Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in economics. He is also the resident economist for The New York Times.
In his latest article, he laments the power of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. He tries to offer eschatological hope. He assures his readers that there is hope politically because the Democrats may eventually come back into power. But this is only hope, he says. The United States of America is on the path to becoming a Third World tyranny. He actually believes this.
I want to stress this fact: he is as sound a political analyst as he is a sound economist.
The obvious silliness of all this should be apparent to anybody who knows about bipartisan American politics since approximately 1953. There has been a bipartisan American foreign policy. There has certainly been a bipartisan policy with respect to Social Security and Medicare. There has been a bipartisan policy with respect to the federal deficit. On anything that has mattered, bipartisan politics has been dominant. On peripheral issues, such as ObamaCare, Congress has voted along party lines, but even that division was short-lived. There were sufficient numbers of Republicans in the Senate who voted with the Democrats this year to save ObamaCare. The Republicans’ 100% opposition was political posturing in 2010.
Any liberal who looks at what Obama accomplished ought to abandon his faith in politics. Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress, early 2009 to early 2011, yet all he had to show for it was ObamaCare. I predicted this from the day he was elected. I said that Nancy Pelosi would be the ramrod for his policies. On the day he was elected, I predicted that he would be cautious, and would do his best to avoid political confrontation. This is exactly what he did for eight years. He did not create a national health plan. ObamaCare is a gigantic boondoggle for the health-insurance industry. Yet even that has backfired, as critics predicted. Healthcare insurers are bailing out every year. In 2019, when the new tax law goes into effect, individuals will not be forced to pay a fine to the federal government for failing to purchase healthcare insurance. With respect to individual purchases, this is going to undermine the whole program. But there wasn’t much of a program to undermine.
Krugman ignores all of this. He really thinks that national politics will make a big difference. He really thinks that America’s future is on the line. He really thinks that there is a serious possibility that America will become a tyranny along the lines of Turkey. He writes:
Many of us came into 2017 expecting the worst. And in many ways, the worst is what we got.Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it’s evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle — and every shred of their own dignity — as long as their donors get big tax cuts.
Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda.
Yet all is not lost. As his headline declares: America Is Not Yet Lost.
Yet I’m ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion. The U.S. may yet become another Turkey or Hungary — a state that preserves the forms of democracy but has become an authoritarian regime in practice. But it won’t happen as easily or as quickly as many of us had feared.Early this year the commentator David Frum warned that the slide into authoritarianism would be unstoppable “if people retreat into private life, if critics grow quieter, if cynicism becomes endemic.” But so far that hasn’t happened.
David Frum is a Canadian who used to be a conservative, or so neoconservatives tried to persuade us. He coined the phrase, “the axis of evil,” which George W. Bush put into a speech. After this, Frum switched sides. That was a tremendous benefit for conservatives, and a tremendous liability for liberals. If David Frum says anything, I recommend that you ignore it.
What we’ve seen instead is the emergence of a highly energized resistance. That resistance made itself visible literally the day after Trump took office, with the huge women’s marches that took place on Jan. 21, dwarfing the thin crowds at the inauguration. If American democracy survives this terrible episode, I vote that we make pink pussy hats the symbol of our delivery from evil.The resistance continued with the town hall crowds that confronted Republican legislators as they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And in case anyone wondered whether the vocal anti-Trump crowds and Trump’s hugely negative polling would translate into political action, a string of special elections — capped by a giant Democratic wave in Virginia and a stunning upset in Alabama — has put such doubts to rest.
It wasn’t protesters who stopped the repeal of ObamaCare. It was RINOs in the Senate.