Election 2016

Krugman Eviscerates Republican Establishment: You Made Trump!

Trumpism comes straight out of the modern GOP playbook.

Photo Credit: via YouTube

Republicans need to stop acting so shocked and upset about the ascendance of Trump, Paul Krugman writes in Monday's column. Establishment darling Marco Rubio, and other "ideological warriors of the right" practice the same sort of paranoid politics tinged with demagogy and tribalism, he points out.

Everyone needs to remember "the glitch heard round the world," Krugman reminds, Marco Rubio's repetitive talking point that Chris Christie so roundly mocked him for.

It went like this: “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” The clear, if ungrammatical, implication was that all the bad things Republicans claim have happened under President Obama — in particular, America’s allegedly reduced stature in the world — are the result of a deliberate effort to weaken the nation.

In other words, the establishment favorite for the G.O.P. nomination, the man Time magazine once put on its cover with the headline “The Republican Savior,” was deliberately channeling the paranoid style in American politics. He was suggesting, albeit coyly, that a sitting president is a traitor.

And now the establishment is shocked to see a candidate who basically plays the same game, but without the coyness, the overwhelming front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Why?

It has become impossible to rise in the Republican party without subscribing to the right's extremist orthodoxy, which includes, of course, not raising taxes on the wealthy, even though the vast majority of Americans—even Republican voters—are in favor of that common sense measure.

The question then is how does a party with such unpopular policies keep winning elections? Lying and obfuscation is always good, as Krugman points out, but even more effective, as we now see, are, "racial dog whistles and suggestions that Democrats are un-American if not active traitors." 

For the underlying assumption behind the establishment strategy was that voters could be fooled again and again: persuaded to vote Republican out of rage against Those People, then ignored after the election while the party pursued its true, plutocrat-friendly priorities. Now comes Mr. Trump, turning the dog whistles into fully audible shouting, and telling the base that it can have the bait without the switch. And the establishment is being destroyed by the monster it created.

And, please, Krugman concludes. Stop with the attempt to draw a parallel between Trump and Bernie Sanders and the establishments that they are challenging. "The Democratic Party is, as some political scientists put it, a “coalition of social groups,” ranging from Planned Parenthood to teachers’ unions, rather than an ideological monolith; there’s nothing comparable to the array of institutions that enforces purity on the other side," he writes. (Still, Krugman being the Clinton supporter that he is, can't resist taking a swipe and Sanders and his supporters, implying there is a little demagogy going on in that camp.)

But his main target remains the GOP. In short, Mitt Romney et al, you need to stop acting so damn shocked about your frontrunner, and own the horrible monster you built.


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