Paul Krugman: Trump and the GOP have shown we're 'sliding into banana-republic politics'

Paul Krugman: Trump and the GOP have shown we're 'sliding into banana-republic politics'
Mitch McConnell // Gage Skidmore

In his New York Times column as well as his newsletter and his Twitter threads, liberal economist Paul Krugman has warned that the United States is not immune to the types of economic or political problems that developing countries have faced. And this week in his newsletter, Krugman cites the Trump campaign's refusal to accept the 2020 presidential election results as a disturbing example of "banana-republic politics" coming to the U.S.

Krugman recalls that in his 2009 book, "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008," he argued that the U.S. had "indeed suffered the kind of economic crisis we used to identify with the Third World."

"What I didn't see coming was the political side," Krugman explains. "It's not just that America has been suffering from Third World-type economic crises. We've also been sliding into banana-republic politics, becoming the kind of country in which a president can refuse to acknowledge a clear election defeat — and be backed by most of his party."

President-elect Joe Biden has enjoyed a decisive victory, winning 306 electoral votes and defeating President Donald Trump by over 6 million in the popular vote. Regardless, Trump has refused to acknowledge Biden as president-elect, vowing to keep fighting the election results in court and claiming, without evidence, that he was the real winner in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other battleground states. A Trump campaign lawsuit that Judge Matthew Brann dismissed in Pennsylvania asked the courts to throw out millions of votes in the Keystone State and block Biden from receiving Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes.

According to Krugman, the Trump campaign's refusal to accept the election results demonstrates that "our democracy is very close to failing." And the economist writes that there are three disturbing takeaways from Trump's response to the election results.

"First, don't dismiss it because the antics of the Trump team — Four Seasons Total Landscaping, melting Rudy Giuliani — are so ridiculous," Krugman warns. "Authoritarian rulers are often ludicrous, because their hangers-on won't tell them how silly they look. When the president of Turkmenistan erected a giant golden statue of himself on horseback, he didn't become a national laughingstock — because nobody in his nation would have dared to laugh."

The second takeaway, according to Krugman, is that Trump is hardly the only Republican who engages in this type of behavior.

"Second, don't make the mistake of thinking that this happened all of a sudden," Krugman writes. "Republicans have been systematically undermining democracy for years through voter suppression, gerrymandering that gives them control of state legislatures even when they lose the popular vote by large margins, stripping power from governors who happen to be Democrats, and trying to bring criminal charges against their opponents."

The third and final takeaway, Krugman adds, is, "Don't bothsides this."

"The decay of U.S. democracy isn't about 'politics'; it's about one party's turn away from democracy," Krugman explains. "Today's GOP is nothing like center-right parties in other advanced nations; it's more like Fidesz, which has turned Hungary into a one-party state, than it is like, say, Britain's Tories…. Joe Biden's inauguration won't be the end of the story."

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