Paul Krugman Reveals His Darkest Fear About the Republican Party

News & Politics

The GOP is a party of cons, in both senses of the word, writes Paul Krugman in his Thursday column. First, there are four actual convicts running in Republican primaries for the 2018 midterms. One is Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, best known for his role in a 2010 coal mine explosion that left 29 people dead. He went to prison in 2015, but got out in time to run for Senate.

The second kind of con is that the GOP has been duping the American people for a generation in order to maintain its grip on power.

The two are interrelated. As Krugman notes, “the success of people like Blankenship—or Trump— was an inevitable consequence of the political strategy Republicans have followed for decades. For the simple truth is that ever since Reagan, Republicans have basically played a con game on American voters.”

Republicans' entire strategy is based on “the upward distribution of wealth,” taking from the poor to give to the rich and convincing the former they should be grateful for it. The worst part is, “Only a small minority of Americans wants to see tax cuts for the wealthy, and an even smaller minority wants cuts to major social programs.” That hasn't stopped Republicans, who win elections by “posing as defenders of traditional social values—above all, that greatest of American traditions, racism.”

Because of this, Krugman continues, “Trumpism was more or less fated to happen.” In fact, it was part of the plan all along: “Trump’s crude racism and blatant dishonesty are only exaggerated versions of what his party has been selling for decades, while his substantive policy agenda—slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, taking health care away from lower-income families—is utterly orthodox.”

The consequences for the future of our democracy are dire if we don’t take action. First, Krugman admonishes us that we should abandon the hope that so-called principled conservatives will hold their president to account. Second, and perhaps a little more reassuring, we must recognize that the Republican Party has never been more vulnerable. Even if the GOP is running actual, convicted criminals for Congress, Krugman notes, “Republican attacks on health care, not lurid scandals, seem to have been the biggest factor behind Democratic victories in special elections. And in November this backlash could give Democrats not just one or both houses of Congress, but also control of many state governments.”

And if we don’t campaign our hearts out and urge friends and family to do the same? Well, Krugman has an even scarier message:

The nature of the modern G.O.P.’s game gives it a bias against democracy. After all, one way to protect yourself against voters who figure out what you’re up to is to stop them from voting. Vote suppression and extreme gerrymandering are already key parts of Republican strategy, but what we’ve seen so far may be just the beginning.

And if you think that G.O.P. leaders would balk at gross electoral manipulation, you haven’t been paying attention.

Read the entire column

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