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Krugman: The Slippery Slope of Complicity


RAN
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The Slippery Slope of Complicity
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/18/opinion/the-slippery-slope-of-complicity.html


Interesting analysis of GOP behavior by Paul Krugman. I found several excerpts particularly interesting:

 

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The real news of the past few weeks isn’t that Trump is a wannabe Mussolini who can’t even make the trains run on time. It’s the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.

Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.

 

 

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Is Trumpocracy what Republicans always wanted?

Well, it’s probably what some of them always wanted. And some of them are making a coldblooded calculation that the demise of democracy is worth it if it means lower taxes on the rich and freedom to pollute.

But my guess is that most Republican politicians are spineless rather than sinister — or, more accurately, sinister in their spinelessness. They’re not really ideologues so much as careerists, whose instinct is always to go along with the party line. And this instinct has drawn them ever deeper into complicity.

 

 

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Even now, I don’t think most political commentators have grasped how deep the rot goes. I don’t think they understand, or at any rate admit to themselves, that democracy really could die just a few months from now.

And if it doesn’t, if Republicans lose Congress and Trump leaves office on or before January 2021, the same people who kept declaring that Trump just became president will try to go back to pretending that Republican politicians are serious, honorable people who care about policy. But they aren’t.


 

 

One factor Krugman seems to have omitted is ... fear of being primaried. 
 

RAN

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I like Krugman but I am skeptical of his prediction. I have no doubt that Trump would love to use US institutions to go after his political enemies but I think the threat to democracy is overstated. The constitution and the court stands between Trump and a lifetime dictatorship. It will hold.

 

Democracy will survive this man, even if the Democrats don’t take back the House of Representatives. 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, RAN said:

if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.

 

IMO, there's a good chance of Republicans holding both houses.  I won't believe Democratic majorities until I see them.   Polling firms appear increasingly less reliable now that Republicans are a able to throw large amounts of eleventh-hour dark money into elections.  That money has helped the right to further perfect the art of casting last-minute doubt on election opponents, using smear tactics, fake news, conspiracy theories, deceptions and irrational appeals to fear and anger.

 

If the GOP prevails in the mid-terms I agree:  "Trump will go full authoritarian".

 

13 hours ago, RAN said:

But my guess is that most Republican politicians are spineless rather than sinister — or, more accurately, sinister in their spinelessness. They’re not really ideologues so much as careerists, whose instinct is always to go along with the party line. And this instinct has drawn them ever deeper into complicity.

 

These traits define many Democratic lawmakers also, since both parties, the Democrats slightly less so, are in the pockets of special interests.  While most politicians who become Democrats do so because of a belief in equality, they also end up compromising themselves to big money interests in order to win elections.  So their opposition to Trump and his gang, may be considerately blunted because of obligations to their biggest donors.

 

13 hours ago, RAN said:

Even now, I don’t think most political commentators have grasped how deep the rot goes. I don’t think they understand, or at any rate admit to themselves, that democracy really could die just a few months from now.

 

Here, I partially agree with Olivaw.   If the Republicans retain the House and Senate, Trump likely will become even more drunk with power for the remainder of his tenure.  But if Trump wins a second term, I doubt either party would allow him to run for a third.

 

Nevertheless, we are already far down the road to Plutocracy and it will get much worse by the end of Trump's first term.   By the end of a second term, one shudders to think what damage may be done;  especially if both houses stay Republican dominated.

 

Chances are, the traditional structure of government will stay in place.  But it will increasingly, become a sham as wealth gets more concentrated and special interests control almost all US policy.

 

So let's hope Bernie or one of his younger followers becomes  president in 2020.   Even without overwhelming congressional support, the use of the bully pulpit and other presidential influence would start the political pendulum on that long swing, back to the left again.

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I think Krugman is pretty right. And people are mixing up trump as the cause, when he's not - the cause is the broader movement to plutocracy, and trump is just a symptom, as the plutocratic media has shifted public opinion such that a trump and the plutocratic Republican Party can 'win' (when things like cheating are included).

 

I've long said that a lot of Americans only support American values by the parroting of empty phrases they don't mean, and that they actually find authoritarianism and fascism appealing, if it was just offered to them in an appealing package. This is not new - the same thing was said nearly a century ago. But fascists weren't usually offered as an option. Now they are.

They're still not admitting what they are - but it's clearer and clearer it's all but in name, and it's selling 80-90% of the Republican party. trump has more support among Republicans than any other Republican in modern history as I understand.

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3 hours ago, Bluenami said:

 

What would be the result of that?  (open question to anyone)

 

It's hard to say, but they have many ways they move that direction. They're almost to the point of having a constitutional convention that could change any part of the constitution.

 

Having a radical right-wing court 're-interpret' the constitution into nothing is ok for them but why not just actually re-write it?

I think they need 34 states to do it and have something like 32, and people are working on it.

 

One of the many things they'd like to do is return to US Senators being appointed by corrupt legislatures instead of elected, albeit by big-money campaigns buying the elections.

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The Republican legislative agenda would be all but dead if either house flips.

 

 

Just off the top of my head, even without constitutional changes,  if Republicans win big, Trump, in concert with the Republican congress could:

 

-   Prevent Democrats from issuing subpoenas to investigate government corruption and collusion.

-   Prevent Democrats from blocking nominees to the Supreme Court.

-   Cement many gerrymandered districts for years to come.

-   Pass more tax cuts for the rich

-   Finally repeal the Affordable Care Act

-   Inflict deep cuts on food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid.  Pass laws allowing big health insurance to limit or deny coverage.

-   More cuts to Social Security or complete privatization.

-   Permit unlimited mining and drilling on all public lands and national parks.

-   Levy new taxes on renewable sources of energy and give tax cuts and subsidies to fossil fuels, including shale and coal.

-   Loosen up land water and air pollution laws.  And encourage CO2 and methane emissions.

-   Allow previously prohibited high tech war equipment to be sold to police departments.

-   Loosen up laws on risky, speculative investments by the big banks and Wall St.

Add your own.

 

Also various and sundry other abominably regressive laws Republican think tanks might come up with.  If Republicans win big in the mid-terms, Trump himself will undoubtedly be encouraged to use the bully pulpit (and Twitter) to call for violence and jailing of the press, racial violence and the suppression of LGBT.

 

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