❝ As far as anyone can tell, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — and the leader of what’s left of the Republican establishment — isn’t racist or authoritarian. He is, however, doing all he can to make a racist authoritarian the most powerful man in the world. Why? Because then he could privatize Medicare and slash taxes on the wealthy.
And that, in brief, tells you what has happened to the Republican Party, and to America.
❝ This has been an election in which almost every week sees some longstanding norm in U.S. political life get broken. We now have a major-party candidate who refuses to release his tax returns, despite huge questions about his business dealings. He constantly repeats claims that are totally false, like his assertion that crime is at record highs (it’s actually just a bit off historic lows). He stands condemned by his own words as a sexual predator. And there’s much, much more.
Any one of these things would in the past have been considered disqualifying in a presidential candidate. But leading Republicans just shrug. And they celebrated when James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., broke with policy to lay a heavy thumb on the election scales; if Hillary Clinton wins nonetheless, they have made it clear that they will try to block any Supreme Court nomination, and there’s already talk of impeachment hearings. About what? They’ll find something.
❝ So how did all our political norms get destroyed? Hint: It started long before Donald Trump…
❝ Those of us old enough to remember the 1990s also remember the endless series of accusations hurled against the Clintons.
Nothing was too implausible to get on talk radio and get favorable mention in Congress and in conservative media…Nothing was too trivial to trigger congressional hearings…
❝ And since accusations of Democratic scandal, not to mention congressional “investigations” that started from a presumption of guilt, had become the norm, the very idea of bad behavior independent of politics disappeared: The flip side of the obsessive pursuit of a Democratic president was utter refusal to investigate even the most obvious wrongdoing by Republicans in office.
Paul Krugman suggests It would help “if the media finally learned its lesson, and stopped treating Republican scandal-mongering as genuine news”. Ain’t about to happen. A story that gets the most eyeballs is still the best story.
RTFA for lots more detail, making of historic points. I suggest Mr. Krugman has too much optimism about what can be done with a political party – the Democrats – that was happy for too many years simply representing the liberal side of Wall Street. Yes, there is one and it’s just as limiting as you might presume.
Being a lot older than Paul Krugman, I’d also take the Republican commitment to racism back to Nixon’s decision to lead his party into the valley of bigotry abandoned by LBJ and the Democratic Party – in response to Dr. King and the civil rights movement building into something large enough to challenge imperial war as well as racist American culture.