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Friday, June 10, 2016

Paul Krugman: Hillary and the Horizontals

 "Group identity is an unavoidable part of politics":

Hillary and the Horizontals, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: I spent much of this politically momentous week at a workshop on inequality... As so often happens at conferences..., what really got me thinking was a question during coffee break: “Why don’t you talk more about horizontal inequality?”
What? Horizontal inequality is the term of art for inequality measured, not between individuals, but between racially or culturally defined groups. ... And like it or not, horizontal inequality, racial inequality above all, will define the general election. ...
Defining oneself at least in part by membership in a group is part of human nature. Even if you try to step away from such definitions, other people won’t..., a truth reconfirmed by the upsurge in vocal anti-Semitism unleashed by the Trump phenomenon.
So group identity is an unavoidable part of politics... Racial and ethnic minorities know that very well, which is one reason they overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton, who gets it, over Mr. Sanders, with his exclusive focus on individual inequality. And politicians know it too.
Indeed, the road to Trumpism began with ideological conservatives cynically exploiting America’s racial divisions. The modern Republican Party’s central policy agenda of cutting taxes on the rich while slashing benefits has never been very popular, even among its own voters. It won elections nonetheless by getting working-class whites to think of themselves as a group under siege, and to see government programs as giveaways to Those People. ...
And race-based political mobilization cuts both ways. Black and Hispanic support for Democrats makes obvious sense, given the fact that these are relatively low-income groups that benefit disproportionately from progressive policies. ... But the overwhelming nature of that support reflects group identity.
Furthermore, some groups with relatively high income, like Jews and, increasingly, Asian-Americans, also vote strongly Democratic. Why? The answer in both cases, surely, is the suspicion that the same racial animus that drives many people to vote Republican could, all too easily, turn against other groups with a long history of persecution. ...
The Republican nominee represents little more than the rage of white men over a changing nation. And he’ll be facing a woman — yes, gender is another important dimension in this story — who owes her nomination to the very groups his base hates and fears.
The odds are that Mrs. Clinton will prevail, because the country has already moved a long way in her direction. But one thing is for sure: It’s going to be ugly.

    Posted by on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 08:40 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (80)


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