Nobel Prize-winning economist: Republicans show a total ‘contempt for democracy and constitutional government’
The late Republican Sen. John McCain, as right-wing as he was, often stressed that no matter how often he butted heads with Democrats, he still viewed them as the loyal opposition. President George H.W. Bush, another right-wing Republican, expressed similar views. But times have changed. And economist and veteran New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, in his September 16 column, stresses that the Democrats of 2019 aren’t simply dealing with an opposition party that holds conservative views — they are dealing with a GOP that has become fundamentally anti-democracy.
Krugman cites some disturbing examples of how authoritarian today’s Republican Party can be. For example, on September 11 — the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — Republicans in North Carolina’s state legislature passed a budget bill and overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto by holding a vote when most Democrats were absent because they were attending commemorative events. It was a sleazy, underhanded move, but as Krugman asserts in his column, it is sadly typically of 2019’s GOP.
Similarly, Krugman writes, the Trump Administration has demonstrated nothing but contempt for subpoena powers of Congress. Recent actions by Republicans at both the state and national levels, according to Krugman, underscore their “contempt for democracy and constitutional government.”
“Elections are supposed to have consequences, conveying power to the winners,” Krugman explains. “But when Democrats win an election, the modern GOP does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken.”
Republicans, Krugman adds, could care less if Cooper won North Carolina’s gubernatorial election in 2016 or if Democrats enjoyed a blue wave in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.
“In 2016,” Krugman observes, “the voters of North Carolina chose a Democrat to govern the state; the immediate GOP response was to try to strip away most of the governor’s power. Last year, Democrats won a majority of the votes for the state legislature too, although Republicans retained control thanks to extreme gerrymandering. But they no longer have a veto-proof majority — hence last week’s power grab.”
Krugman also points to the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 as an example of the modern GOP’s authoritarian mindset. After Trump nominated Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, at least three women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. But as Krugman notes, the GOP saw to it that Kavanaugh wasn’t sufficiently investigated.
“The FBI, essentially at Republican direction, severely limited its investigation into Kavanaugh’s past,” Krugman notes. “So Kavanaugh was appointed to a powerful, lifetime position without a true vetting.”
Democrats, Krugman emphasizes, need to win more elections but must also realize that Republicans won’t accept the election results.
Democrats, he writes, “need to win elections, but all too often, that won’t be sufficient because they confront a Republican Party that at a basic level, doesn’t accept their right to govern — never mind what the voters say. So winning isn’t enough; they also have to be prepared for that confrontation.”
Krugman ends his column on a somber note, asserting that former Vice President Joe Biden is being naïve if he thinks Republicans view him as the loyal opposition.
“The big problem with Joe Biden, still the frontrunner, is that he obviously doesn’t get it,” Krugman laments. “He’s made it clear on many occasions that he considers Trump an aberration and believes that he could have productive, amicable relations with Republicans once Trump is gone — which raises the question: even if Biden can win, is he too oblivious to govern effectively?”