Paul Krugman gives voice to a nagging fear a lot of people have had: Even after he loses and loses badly, Donald Trump will continue to be the guiding light of the Republican Party.
After explaining that Republicans knew damn well who they were endorsing and that it’s ridiculous to be shocked that Trump turned out to be a walking train wreck, Krugman gets to the heart of the matter:
Of course, we know why the great majority of Republican politicians supported Mr. Trump despite his evident awfulness: They feared retribution from the party’s base if they didn’t. But that’s not an excuse. On the contrary, it’s reason to trust these people even less. We already know that they lack any moral backbone, that they will do whatever it takes to guarantee their own political survival.
And that is a serious problem for the country.
The Republican base has been racist since Nixon implemented the Southern Strategy. By harnessing the racial resentment of white people, Republicans were able to get them to vote for tax cuts for the rich, cuts to the social safety net and all kinds of economic polices that savaged the middle class, all under the guise of “saving” America from Those People. The only catch was that they couldn’t say it was about hurting minorities.
But Trump rose to power and told Republican voters that not only was it OK to be racist, they should be loud and proud of their hate. And they ate it up:
What Republican voters wanted, instead, were candidates who channeled their anger and fear, who demonized nonwhites and played into dark conspiracy theories. (Even establishment candidates did that — never forget that Mr. Rubio accused President Obama of deliberately hurting America.)
It was like a dam bursting and Republicans will not be able to stem the flood of joyous bigotry. When Trump voters talk about “freedom” and ignoring “political correctness”, what they’re talking about is being allowed to be openly racist and sexist and bigoted without having to pay any price for their hate. And woe be to any Republican that does not cater to their newly-“unshackled” awfulness:
This lesson hasn’t been lost on Republican politicians. Even if Mr. Trump loses bigly, they’ll know that their personal fortunes will depend on maintaining an essentially Trumpist line. Otherwise they will face serious primary challenges and/or be at risk of losing future elections when base voters stay home.
So you can ignore all the efforts to portray Mr. Trump as a deviation from the G.O.P.’s true path: Trumpism is what the party is all about.
Krugman predicts that Republicans will find new and innovative ways to break the wheels of governance because that’s what their rabid base will demand and he’s almost certainly right. Republicans have zero incentive to govern responsibly and every incentive to make things worse. After all, a key component of the right’s mindset these days is give them what they want or they’ll burn the entire country to the ground in one great temper tantrum.
Is it any wonder why they love Donald Trump, a 70-year-old brat, so much? He stamps his feet and cries foul when he loses and Republicans will be forced to emulate him if they want to stay in office.
Hooray for American democracy.