Paul Krugman, the Conscience of the Liberal, speaks

May 1, 2016

Paul Krugman, the Conscience of the Liberal, speaks on US Presidential Elections–It’s Hillary vs Donald in November, 2016

Maybe we need a new cliche: It ain’t over until Carly Fiorina sings. Anyway, it really is over — definitively on the Democratic side, with high probability on the Republican side. And the results couldn’t be more different.

“Personalities surely played a role; say what you like (or dislike) about Clinton, but she’s resilient under pressure, a character trait notably lacking on the other side. But basically it comes down to fundamental differences between the parties and how they serve their supporters.”–Krugman

Think about where we were a year ago. At the time, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were widely seen as the front-runners for their parties’ nods. If there was any dissent from the commentariat, it came from those suggesting that Bush might be supplanted by a fresher, but still establishment, face, like Marco Rubio.

Secretary Hillary Clinton

Most Experienced and Prepared for the Job as US President and Commander-in-Chief

And now here we are. But why did Clinton, despite the most negative media coverage of any candidate in this cycle — yes, worse than Donald Trump’s — go the distance, while the GOP establishment went down to humiliating defeat?

Personalities surely played a role; say what you like (or dislike) about Clinton, but she’s resilient under pressure, a character trait notably lacking on the other side. But basically it comes down to fundamental differences between the parties and how they serve their supporters.

Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.

First, about the Democrats: Their party defines itself as the protector of the poor and the middle class, and especially of nonwhite voters. Does it fall short of fulfilling this mission much of the time? Are its leaders sometimes too close to big-money donors? Of course. Still, if you look at the record of the Obama years, you see real action on behalf of the party’s goals.

Above all, you have the Affordable Care Act, which has given about 20 million Americans health insurance, with the gains biggest for the poor, minorities and low-wage workers. That’s what you call delivering for the base — and it’s surely one reason nonwhite voters have overwhelmingly favored Clinton over a challenger who sometimes seemed to dismiss that achievement.

And this was paid for largely with higher taxes on the rich, with average tax rates on very high incomes rising by about 6 percentage points since 2008. Maybe you think Democrats could and should have done more, but what the party establishment says and what it does are at least roughly aligned.

Things are very different among Republicans.Their party has historically won elections by appealing to racial enmity and cultural anxiety, but its actual policy agenda is dedicated to serving the interests of the 1 percent, above all through tax cuts for the rich — which even Republican voters don’t support, while they truly loathe elite ideas like privatising Social Security and Medicare.

What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order a la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too. Yes, his actual policy proposals still involve huge tax cuts for the rich, but his supporters don’t know that — and it’s possible that he doesn’t, either. Details aren’t his thing.

Establishment Republicans have tried to counter his appeal by shouting, with growing hysteria, that he isn’t a true conservative. And they’re right, at least as they define conservatism. But their own voters don’t care.

If there’s a puzzle here, it’s why this didn’t happen sooner. One possible explanation is the decadence of the GOP establishment, which has become ingrown and lost touch. Apparatchiks who have spent their whole careers inside the bubble of right-wing think tanks and partisan media may suffer from the delusion that their ideology is actually popular with real people. And this has left them hapless in the face of a Trumpian challenge.

Probably more important, however, is the collision between demography and Obama derangement. The elite knows that the party must broaden its appeal as the electorate grows more diverse — in fact, that was the conclusion of the GOP’s 2013 post-mortem. But the base, its hostility amped up to 11 after seven years of an African-American President (who the establishment, dominantly White, has done its best to demonize) is having none of it.

The point, in any case, is that the divergent nomination outcomes of 2016 aren’t an accident. The Democratic establishment has won because it has, however imperfectly, tried to serve its supporters. The Republican establishment has been routed because it has been playing a con game on its supporters all along, and they’ve finally had enough.

And yes, Trump is playing a con game of his own, and they’ll eventually figure that out, too. But it won’t happen right away, and in any case it won’t help the party establishment. Sad! ― The New York Times

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12 thoughts on “Paul Krugman, the Conscience of the Liberal, speaks

  1. After New York’s primary, yes, I concur: It is between Killary and Drump, the two sides of the same evil coin. God bless America! I still will work very hard for Sander’s California primary – just to send Killary a message.

  2. I wish Secretary Hillary Clinton well in her political journey to become the next President of the United States. She is the most experienced and prepared for the job. I believe the American voters will do what is right and good for their country and their own welfare.

    Hillary will be good for Asia, of course,given her knowledge and role role as America’s First Diplomat which is now occupied by the equally effective Secretary of State, John Kerry. She has been a Senator for New York and First Lady to President Clinton and has been most Presidential so far. The campaign will enter a new phase after July and may be different.

    I have been partial towards the Bern, but I am realistic enough to accept the fact that Senator Sanders is too far behind to catch up. He has run a very superb campaign on issues, though, and I salute him (he is of my generation–a septuagenarian). His views resonate well with young Americans and must be taken seriously by her party and Hillary herself. Perhaps, there will be a role of him in the next administration. Who knows!

    On the Russians are taken up with Donald Trump. This political outsider has created history, no matter what. Unfortunately, his views and ideas on many issues are too archaic,isolationist and and worrying to me. The globalised world requires an engaged American leader, not a demagogue. Furthermore, he represents what is wrong with his own party.

    The Republicians have run a very divisive and negative campaign and their efforts to prevent his nomination in July is indeed a total disgrace. So, the RNP deserves what is coming to it–defeat in November, 2016– both in Congress and the Presidential Elections.

    In making these comments, I am conscious that I am not an American. Maybe, Ambassador Malott, Orang Malaya, LaMoy and Dr. Phua and others can share their thoughts on the primaries and the state of US politics today.–Din Merican

  3. Hillary Clinton has no achievements from her time as Secretary of State to boast of.
    She lied about the Benghazi murder of our Ambassador and security staff by terrorists.
    She said a video caused it, not true, and she denied reinforcements to come to help though they were close by.She denied accusations even though it is proven fact.She also broke federal law by setting up a private server for classified emails.She has a long history of corruption.
    That is not the general view in Asia. I think you should stick to religion and not dabble in politics.–Din Merican

  4. What Paul Krugman conveniently left out in analyzing Democrat’s establishment is that he ignored overwhelming super delegates (the party’s leaders and official) tilted the scale even before the first grass-root vote is cast between Clinton and Sanders. So, the democrat side has a process which is much more less democratic than that of Republican. For Malaysia, I think what we need to remember is that extreme leftists like Paul Krugman are hardly representative of US populace and we are likely to learn the wrong things from them.

    The pendulum of US politics has swung to the right (Bush), far-left(Obama), and may swing to center-right if Trump is elected. US politics is complex and dynamic. It is not possible to have a good judgement if we are not presented with all sides’ (more than two) views. Here is an article from a respected conservative columnist who is grappling with Trump’s phenomena: I agree with her to some good degree.

  5. Hillary would make a good President.

    However, she is too hawkish in terms of foreign policy, and too pro-Israel.

    The militaristic, right-wing regime in Israel is actually making
    life difficult for Jews in Western Europe e.g. anti-semitism
    is on the rise in France.

    The world will be in big trouble if an unstable character like Trump gets to be
    the next US President. Will be even more reckless than
    George W. Bush (who has destroyed the unfortunate
    Iraqi nation).

  6. There’s an interesting possibility:

    Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren as the Prez and VP candidates for the
    Democratic Party. If this turns out to be so, this would be
    a very good development. Elizabeth Warren, former Harvard law professor
    has a very interesting life story.

  7. The last time the US made the mistake of ignoring Dr.Ron Paul… and this time if they leave our Bernie it will be a bigger mistake… by themselves neither Dr.Paul nor Bernie can fix the US but they will have lit the torch on a peaceful way out of the sorry state of the country… if this torch is put out it will leave very few peaceful options for the US…

  8. Isa Manteqi & Dr Phua: Don’t rule out Bernie from the presidential race yet. The deadline to put an independent contender on the ballots is before the democratic convention. Bernie could run as the candidate of the Green Party – continue his revolution and in such a 3-way election would likely win, because his program is both truly progressive and grounded in realism. Running for the Green Party would then give Bernie a chance to restructure that party into a new party that can disrupt the current “one-party” system with a new and solid platform based on people’s wishes and needs. He would thus accomplish two things in one: win the presidency and either force the current calcified parties to reform or add a third major party to Congress. Nothing would be more revolutionary and healthier than that. And this is what many of us have advised him.

  9. Yes, a Third Party is a possibility… something people like Jesse Ventura have been advocating for a long time… Ventura already proved this can be done when he won his election as Governor… and on a shoestring budget too…

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