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Friday, December 11, 2015

Paul Krugman: Empowering the Ugliness

Reaping what they've sown:

Empowering the Ugliness, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: We live in an era of political news that is, all too often, shocking but not surprising. The rise of Donald Trump definitely falls into that category. And so does the electoral earthquake that struck France in Sunday’s regional elections, with the right-wing National Front winning more votes than either of the major mainstream parties. ...
Let me start with ... Europe..., from an American perspective it looks as if Europe’s establishment has tried to freeze the xenophobic right, not just out of political power, but out of any role in acceptable discourse. ...
What the European establishment may not have realized, however, is that its ability to define the limits of discourse rests on the perception that it knows what it is doing. ...The European project ... has never had deep popular support...
And there’s nothing quite like sustained poor economic performance ... brought on by Europe’s austerity and hard-money obsessions ... to undermine the elite’s reputation for competence. That’s probably why one recent study found a consistent historical relationship between financial crises and the rise of right-wing extremism. And history is repeating itself.
The story is quite different in America, because the Republican Party hasn’t tried to freeze out the kind of people who vote National Front in France. Instead, it has tried to exploit them, mobilizing their resentment via dog whistles to win elections. ...
But there is a strong element of bait-and-switch to this strategy. Whatever dog whistles get sent during the campaign, once in power the G.O.P. has made serving the interests of a small, wealthy economic elite, especially through big tax cuts, its main priority...
Sooner or later the angry whites who make up a large fraction, maybe even a majority, of the G.O.P. base were bound to rebel...
So along comes Donald Trump, saying bluntly the things establishment candidates try to convey in coded, deniable hints, and sounding as if he really means them. And he shoots to the top of the polls. Shocking..., but hardly surprising. ...
What I am saying ... is that this ugliness has been empowered by the very establishments that now act so horrified... In Europe the problem is the arrogance and rigidity of elite figures who refuse to learn from economic failure; in the U.S. it’s the cynicism of Republicans who summoned up prejudice to support their electoral prospects. And now both are facing the monsters they helped create.

    Posted by on Friday, December 11, 2015 at 12:24 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (125)


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