Saturday, May 20, 2017

Do Republicans actually care about criminality in the Oval Office?

Paul Krugman is doubtful that they do (What’s the Matter With Republicans? New York Times 05/19/2017):

It has become painfully clear ... that Republicans have no intention of exercising any real oversight over a president who is obviously emotionally unstable, seems to have cognitive issues and is doing a very good imitation of being an agent of a hostile foreign power.

They may make a few gestures toward accountability in the face of bad poll numbers, but there is not a hint that any important figures in the party care enough about the Constitution or the national interest to take a stand.
This is a big reminder that democracy is not just a matter of elections but also of widespread commitment to democratic self-government. And that however useful Montesquieuian separation of power arrangement may be, they can be overwhelmed by political parties and economic elites bent on actually subverting the system.

And, Krugman argues, "nearly all Republicans in today’s Congress are apparatchiks, political creatures with no higher principle beyond party loyalty."

Krugman may be giving them too much credit. He credits them with having at least an adherence to a principle of some kind. For many, any motivation beyond serving their donors is doubtful. Krugman does not that today's Republican Party "lavishly supported by a small number of very, very wealthy families." And that the "rigid ideology" for which they pay so lavishly insists on "tax cuts for the rich above all else."

Krugman oddly echoes the argument of some vocal but not especially influential people on the left who argued that Trump would be good for the left because it would force the center-left to fight against the Republicans instead of defending neoliberal and hawkish policies of a Hillary Clinton Administration:

In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is. Think of what it has taken to get us to this point — his Twitter addiction, his bizarre loyalty to Flynn and affection for Putin, the raw exploitation of his office to enrich his family, the business dealings, whatever they were, he’s evidently trying to cover up by refusing to release his taxes.

The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control.
As much as Hillary hardliners may be happy to attribute that position to anyone to the left of Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker, any influence on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election of that argument is vanishingly difficult to detect.

Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks is one person who made that argument explicitly during 2016.

I just read a post from 01/28/2017 by Claire Connor, author of Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right (2013) The Radical Right Runs America, But Democrats Still Don’t Get It Crooks and Liars, in which she warns that the Democrats weren't taking the radicalism of Trump and today's Republican Party seriously enough:

It’s time to stop pretending that Trump’s presidency will crumble and the radical right will be run out of DC. It’s time to stop imagining some moderate Republicans will break with their party. The GOP will bow down before Trump – even while they laugh at him behind closed doors. They will confirm all of his nominees, and pass his agenda for one simple reason. Donald Trump’s agenda is the GOP agenda. He is doing their dirty work for them.

Donald Trump’s power comes from the GOP’s power. They control 35 states, the House, the Senate, the Executive branch. In a few months – unless Democrats fight a pitched battle and win it—they will cement control of the Supreme Court for decades.

If we want to change this situation, we have to push our Democrats in the Senate and the House to say NO to every Trump appointment, every Trump nominee, and every Trump initiative.

Until the Dems discover a backbone, we will continue to bleed support and lose elections. Until the Dems drop courtesy and learn to fight, we will live in the minority for a long time. Until the Dems follow the example of women who marched in Washington last week, America will be Trump’s America. [emphasis in original]
I don't see either of these arguments as an excuse for complacency or defeatism. Rather, they should be a reminder of the public and the Democratic Party about how very serious a situation this is.

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