Paranoia Strikes Deep

If the G.O.P. essentially shrinks down to a rump party across America, the country could become ungovernable in the midst of a continuing economic disaster.

Comments: 125

  1. ..." The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."

    NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! But, Professor Krugman, I have more faith in our young people and their voting intelligence than perhaps you do! The really crazy right-wing whackjobs I see (wielding Obama-as-Hitler signs and yelling about Government taking away their healthcare) are mostly middle-aged, beer-bellied, depressed looking losers! I have looked closely, and notice only a few young people--mostly with older people, presumably parents!

    I think the "tea-party" types are, in the main, a bunch of not-so-bright, easily manipulated folks who are in a snit about all of the terrible things happening in our country about which we are all in a snit! They just have a more obnoxious way of expressing it--and follow psychopathic "leaders" and corporate lobbyists who enable them! And, let's face it, there is more than a little RACISM involved here!!!!

    Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I think the Democrats will win big in the 2010 elections--and hopefully there will be more progressives among them! What I am worried about now, even more than the likelihood of a watered down healthcare bill, is the probablity that Obama will send many, many more troops to the wasteland of Afghanistan--and we will be pouring more money and lives down the BLACKHOLE OF WAR!!!! This scares and saddens me beyond belief!!!!!

  2. Paul; the Democrats control absolutely everything. They have a larger majority in the House than the Republicans ever had when they were in power -- that is a fact. The Democrats claim they have a mandate in the Presidency; and, they have a sixty vote majority in the Senate,

    But, if things continue to go wrong economically,you want to blame the populists -- mostly minority party Republicans? No one who is rational and reasonable will take you seriously with that -- No One.

  3. It's the institutional structures, stupid! California is ungovernable, of course, because a 2/3 majority is necessary to pass the budget there. That's why the Republican rump is able to thwart the will of he majority; a different institutional structure would eschew such problems.

    The parallel problem at the federal level is the US Senate, and especially the normalization of the use of the filiibuster. The Senate overrepresents conservatives (Wyoming has as many Senators as New York, etc.), and the filibuster exacerbates this tendency. If something were done about this arrangement, the threat of Californiafication wouldn't be nearly so great.

  4. "Conservatives may not have better ideas, but voters might support them out of sheer frustration."

    Unless a white knight appears to save the GOP from itself ... someone who can bail out that party, pay off/sponsor GOP "leaders," subsidize their '10 campaigns, marginalizing the southern strategy, while buying himself the '12 GOP nomination without having to raise a penny ... he may have just squeaked into his illegal 3rd term as NYC mayor, but the rest of the country will little note nor long remember that slim victory. We will only know what his incessant presence on the airways tells us in TV ads. All we may feel is the impact of $2B peeled off his own $17.6B wad, and how efficiently this will buy Bloomberg his presidential nomination, sweeping the heretofore necessary crazies back to the fringe.

    Dems, beware. The Great Manager vs the Failed Leader: the '12 contest.

  5. Amazing, Krugman seems to echo Karl Mannheim's 1929 classic, Ideology and Utopia.
    The more things change, etc.

  6. It is unprecedented that no one, seemingly, is making an effort to reach out to the reasonable right (a group almost never mentioned). The GOP has become addicted to an electoral strategy of playing up to the extreme elements of the grassroots while taking the larger, middle-leaning segment for granted. What remains is for either the Democrats to find a way to move the middle-leaners away from the GOP or for the GOP to start paying attention to them -- which they may not do, fearing that the extreme right is motivated enough to split the right wing.

    One thing that must not be done is feed the "paranoia" of today's politics so that reasonable right-wingers adopt a fear which leads them to huddle with the lunatics who are destroying the GOP.

  7. Scary indeed.

  8. Afghanistan is ungovernable because rational democratic processes are continually attacked and subverted by a radical, extremist fringe who base their beliefs on conservative, fundamentalist ideology.

    The G.O.P. is doing the same thing to the United States.

    The irony would be humourous if the stakes weren't so high.

  9. "Once elections were won, the issues that fired up the base almost always took a back seat to the economic concerns of the elite."

    Well, isn't this exactly just also what happened to all those who voted the current WH and Congress in office. Speaking of an example, the weak healthcare bill that passed in the House last night is so perfect:

    Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing? Marcia Angell, M.D.
    Physician, Author, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

  10. Do family newspaper values prevent you from saying Californicated? More elegant, and it's what Oregon has been trying to prevent for years, according to their bumper stickers.
    The power of the GOP in California arises from peculiarities of the anti-tax Propositions which make it virtually impossible to raise (but not to lower) taxes in the state. Still, I think Dr. K's overriding point is valid. Just small gains in 2010 and the Republicans will be able to effectively stifle anything "progressive;" even with substantial majorities & the White House, the Democrats seem incapable of effective united action anyway. So if we become literally "ungovernable," then what's the logical next step? I guess we'll find out. On some particularly bizarre days, we do get glimpses of a very different future.

  11. Mr. Krugman; it was President Obama and the Democrats in Congress who gave the bankers trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. It was Obama and Democrats in control, when another trillion was wasted for a so-called stimulus, without jobs; and unemployment surpassing ten percent and climbing.

    It is President Obama who hires Goldman Sach's alum as advisors, and who has Llyod Blankfein and George Soros as special visitors to the Whitehouse.

    You keep blaming the minority Republicans, but I can tell you who the voters are going to blame during the next elections. They will rightly blame the spendthrift, friend-of-the-banking-establishment Democrats.

    I am happy to see dissent in the midst of what the democrats are doing to destroy the middle class in this country. You call the dissenters all of the silly names you like; but their numbers keep growing. They are questioning authority; the first time I've seen it done in large numbers since the 1970s.

    The dissenters are seeking to protect freedom while the Democrats continue to protect the bankers and the corporate ceos. I am advocating for the dissenters; while they are still largely unpopular; but I have no fear, at all, I will soon be part of a vocal and voting majority

  12. Frightening, indeed.

  13. Paul, We're aware of the vacuum of leadership in the GOP upon the sweeping victory of Democrats last year. However, what is most frustrating is that with that sweeping victory the Democratic party is fumbling and unable to deal with that power they gained. Instead of promoting Democratic social values (Jobs, peace, human rights, and public welfare) they are in colloding with Wall Street bankers, and robbing this country blind.

    When was the last time anyone in power questioned the massive outsourcing of US jobs and the heavy toll it is taking on the population? Oh, I remember! Obama, during his campaign, wanted to repeal NAFTA. But once it became apparent that he was going to be the winner he joined GWB and Paulson for massively stimulating Wall street at our expense and leaving us with nothing but prayers for trickle-down crumbs.

    The truth is that when it comes to either political party, priorities are quite clear. The leadership of both parties exploits its base to the point of no return at any expense. The difference is that the GOP effectively manipulates right winger public emotions and anger to keep them loyal. Democrats, on the other hand, distract you and then steal your lunch.

  14. I agree with you Mr. Krugman. Watching that display last Thursday was disheartening, not just because I am a liberal, but because such irrational, crazy speeches and signs was getting prime time attention. I think the news media likes irrational behavior, if the reality shows are any indication. The real drama, thought, is on C-Span, folks, where you get to see the real issues debated, and the crazies are limited to timed tirades with more protocol and response!

  15. Are we looking at another Civil War? Texas succeeding from the Union?

  16. “The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America.”

    The scenario you describe has been made much worse by Obama and the Democratic Congress, both of which were elected for a “believable change” with high hopes of putting the country back on a sensible track. But instead these shameless people not only continued the Bush/Cheney/Republican policies, their actions surpassed them in a way that Republicans could only dream of. Trillions for banksters, big pharma, AHIP, military industrial complex, continued illegal wars in three countries, continued warrantless spying, special legislation to subvert the judiciary and FOIA (torture pictures), etc., etc.

    Nothing for the main street, or the middle class.

    Obama has betrayed his base and kicked them in the teeth. The Republicans have an excellent chance to come back in 2010 and 2012 because most of the Obama supporters will stay home. If that does indeed happen, then the Democratic Congress and Obama will only have themselves to blame. The country will suffer immensely in either case.

  17. As a native Californian, I simply must object to your use of the phrase "irrational right". It is redundant.

  18. Mr. Krugman's observations are astute. Increasingly shrill Republican rhetoric and intolerant attitudes have crippled the Republican party, recent elections notwithstanding. There are no rational actors with a plan in the Republican leadership. There is a lot of irrational anger and fear which would be dangerous for any group let alone a political party. When I read about the bizarre claims asserted by the Republicans or at the very least being allowed to slide by without categorically denying them, I am reminded of Edmund Burke's famous quote "The only thing needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing." Where are good Republican men willing to stand up and do something?

  19. Paul, I agree. The fact is that The Republican Party has been hijacked by the religious right and ultra conservatives and has become out of touch with main stream America. This is no more Mr. Lincoln’s Party. Unless it changes its course drastically it is headed for demise like the Whig Party.

    For related comments, feel free to check out my blog: www.thekoolheads.blogspot.com

  20. Paul Krugman, as usual, has his finger on the political pulse of America and finds it dangerously high. His excellent treatise reminded me of the eerie parallel of Howard Beale, a fictional character from the 1976 movie "Network", played by Peter Finch, to Glenn Beck.

    In the movie, Beale struggles with depression and insanity, but his producers, rather than give him the medical help he needs, use him as a tool for getting higher ratings. The image of Howard Beale, in a beige coat with his wet, gray hair plastered to his head, standing up during the middle of his newscast saying, "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" ranks as one of the most memorable scenes in film history.

    Beale's career as "The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves" is sparked by his half-joking offer, after receiving his two-weeks' notice, to kill himself on nationwide TV. He subsequently apologizes to his viewers, telling them he "ran out of bullshit". Viewers respond positively and Beale is given his own show where he can say whatever he likes. Unfortunately, he exposes the ties between CCA, the corporation that owns the network, and business interests in Saudi Arabia. Arthur Jensen, CCA chairman and chief stockholder, thunderously explains to him that money is the only true God, whereupon Beale completely turns his message around; before, he told people their lives had value and meaning, but after his meeting with Jensen, he says the opposite. His ratings drop, but Jensen orders him kept on; network executives order him to be assassinated. The film concludes with the murder of Beale on national television; a voice over proclaims him "the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings."

    The blood that the vampires like Beck, Limbaugh, Bachman, Palin, et al feed on is fear. The Republican party has learned the lesson of 9/11. Fear works. Especially today in an economy that has devastated so many lives. In one single, brilliant stroke, a wealthy Saudi rebel has brought America to its knees by injecting a massive amount of fear into the vein of its culture. That Saudi is Osama bin Laden. And for the right wing of the Republican party to ride that fear to power is unconscionable. But it is working and that is Krugman's warning. It's working.

  21. When Republicans do control the government they bring up a bunch of issue politics, lower taxes and on the national level they saber rattle, and then when the economy takes a bump the people kick them out, for being do nothings. We've just seen it on the national level where Bush's mismanagement caused the collapse of Wall Street, and his wars had the Army on the edge of collapse...FInance and defense, are supposedly the Republican's strong suit.

    The G.O.P has been savaging it's own for years. I had lunch with a former GOP state senator in Colorado and it brought tears to her eyes when she explained how her own party savagely turned against her for being too moderate. They ran a more conservative candidate against her a number of years ago. The purge isn't new...it is stronger and accelerating. McConnel has been bullied himself, right after the election, when the wingnuts sent him "balls" to stand up to Obama. crushing McConnel's early willingness to be bipartisan.

    The rump party is indeed all that is left. The question is how do the democrats pull away the rational former republicans like the Former State Rep. and strengthen the opposition to the radical right?

  22. The problem isn't Republicans versus Democrats. The problem is corporations versus democracy and Americans in general. When money becomes the only ideal, the only currency that has a voice, the politician who seeks to be in power naturally gravitates to whoever can put him/her there. Everything, every ideal, every worthy goal then becomes negotiable, there is no solid ground. America and its citizens have always been the ideal and we are being devalued by our government and greed. We and everything we have striven for through the generations are being sold to the highest bidder time and time again. President Obama promised change, promised a return to integrity, promised a steadfast compassion for the American citizen and their struggle. At over 10 percent unemployment (with actual unemployment at 17 percent) and no effective jobs bill, along with a weakened health care bill, the words and campaign pledges are ringing hollow. We the voters who voted for change, voted for integrity, voted for compassion and fairness will not be fooled again by empty rhetoric. President Obama please walk the talk and we will walk with you and once again create a more perfect union.

  23. NOT EXACTLY a shock to read that rationality is not something which wins elections in the u.s. poor, uneducated 'folks' have consistently voted against their interests since the election of ronald reagan. just repeat the lie often enough and many americans start to believe it. greatest health care system on the planet; iraq 911 iraq 9ll; obama was born in kenya; only in america could.......

    discourse in the u.s. is based on hysteria; huge bags of money corrupting the political system; media reporting two sides as if pointing out lies and mistakes by one side is somehow not being neutral. stenographers posing as journalists.

    perhaps having british journalists--not fleet street--covering american politics might help the situation. put american politicians on bbc's hard talk and see how they get nailed instead of being able to answer a question not asked and not being called on it by american journalists. just saw john howard, former pm of australia for the 99% who don't know him, on hard talk. it was a combative and instructive interview because the interviewer actually confronted him and didn't let him go on and on about what HE wanted to talk about.

  24. Dr. K.-

    It seems the first order of business in a democracy with only one functioning party is to maintain/restore confidence; that is what keeps civil order as well as orderly business activity. At every turn, those attempts will be attacked by the opposition simply from political expediency.

    These facts make it very important that when talking about health-care, be sure it is framed in terms of what is actually being attempted - it is cost-cutting for American businesses to make us more competitive. That message cannot be repeated too often - it is 'the bidness case' and jobs creation case explaining what we are about and what we are building.

    Regarding unemployment being at a 26-year high; seems you are right that we bottomed - it should also be pointed out to detractors that the last time it was this high was when the fabled 'REAGAN' was president and had been for at least 2 years; not the 9 months Obama has. After David Stockman admitted fudging Reagan's budget numbers completely in trickle-down, etch-a-sketch fashion, the opposition should now have the past pointed out to them and then be told to 'sit down and shut up' for at least 2 years, just at they did for the fabled 'RONNIE'.

    Good news - when even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is against what is being done to Sarbanes Oxley and acoounting standards for Wall Street:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

    there ain't no excuse for the White House to be concerned about the heretofore unidentified problem of too much regulation on Wall Street. Not very often are the Democrats, the unions, Main Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the same side and being vocal - it should be a 'canary in the coal mine' moment down at the Winter Garden.

  25. RE: "Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."

    As a nation and as a culture, we forget that our sanity is based on the power of ideas. It only takes a cursory glance at our 500 channels of television to see the quality of ideas we collectively 'feed' ourselves on ... All in the name of commerce and entertainment.

    It's so easy to target this party or that group for bringing ever more pernicious ideas into the political realm. But these reprehensible ideas do not find fertile ground in a vacuum.

    We long ago opened the floodgates ... Deluge to follow?

  26. The increased level of lies, rant, and ramped-up insult and incivility in political debate is indeed disturbing. It's not just on the radio. You could catch the scent of demagoguery during the House debate on health care, clearly designed to stir up the passions of the base and serve as the 30-second video clips for next year's elections. I hope we are not witnessing the coming of the brown shirts and the advent of American nativism, know-nothingism,and fascism, but I'm afraid we may be.

  27. I enjoy your columns more when they are about your area of expertise, economics. I disagree wholeheartedly with the following statement:

    "Real power in the party rests, instead, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (who at this point is more a media figure than a conventional politician)."

    If the above were true, Bill Owens would not have won election in New York's 23rd District. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck et al. intervened in a way that proved disastrous. They will likely do otherwise in the future. My point: the GOP is learning about the dangers of marching to the tune of the fringe right.

    I take issue also with the following statement:

    "When Hofstadter wrote, the right wing felt dispossessed because it was rejected by both major parties. That changed with the rise of Ronald Reagan: Republican politicians began to win elections in part by catering to the passions of the angry right."

    What about McCarthyism? And what is to be said of Richard Nixon's stunning rise to power? He ran a dirty campaign that pandered to the anxieties of the right in 46' and absolutely crushed Jerry Voorhis.

    I am not convinced that what is going on now is unprecedented. I am convinced, though, that it will harm the Republican Party. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck et al. may be the leaders of the Republican Party, but the general population is not following. Moderate voices will prevail in time.

  28. The GOP seems to be turning into the red meat party.

    In ancient Greece it was called demagoguery.

    The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    America will turn out to be history's briefest empire.

  29. Krugman totally misses the point on this one. It's not the extremists, but the so-called Democratic centrists about whom we should be worried. The healthcare "victory" in the House is a complete sham: a huge, transparent giveaway, transfer of wealth, to the health insurance companies; a laughably weak, ineffectual public option; no power to negotiate drug prices, etc. In short: business as usual! The oldest trick in the book: the wolf in sheep's clothing. Benighted as they are, the right wing extremists have one thing right (for the wrong reasons): Obamacare, Obamachange is not change one should believe in. This country is utterly unjust, rotten, vicious, and brutal, and Obama is just more of the same, however different he might try to appear. People are so beleaguered and downtrodden that even the slightest political crumb that falls to the dirty floor passes for a "courageous victory." How shameful and sad. I can't wait for this evil empire to fall.

  30. This isn't exactly unprecedented. A study of Lincoln's first three and a half years in office reveals many parallels and similarities with what is happening right now. Different problems, but the same vitriol from the opposition (called Radicals); similar outrageous claims and accusations against the president (from the Democrats); same doomsday predictions for the country under the Lincoln administration's agenda (from almost everybody, until Grant and Sherman began winning the war); same treasonous public threats against the president's life.

    The more it changes, the more it stays the same.

  31. As I watched Congressional Democrats debate and vote on health care reform I couldn't help but think I was watching "Dead Men (and Women) Walking", doomed by Mr. Obama's timidity in dealing with the economic crisis.

    The glow from health care reform will fade quickly since it's most important parts won't take effect for several years. In the mean time jobs will continue to be lost and it will be difficult if not impossible for Democrats to do anything about it in the short term.

    A mid-term election disaster will probably bring the sacking of Obama's economic team although it will be for the wrong reasons - political theater rather than a true admission of poor performance. But Mr. Obama has revealed himself to be nothing if not a politician so perhaps we can hope that political necessity will force him to finally support real reform of the banking and finance industries.

  32. Ok, Paul, how are we going to prevent that?

  33. The most powerful countries fall from within. God Bless America.
    Ronni Yardley Pa.

  34. The best medicine is for Democrats to craft government to fight for the average person and crucify republicans for hating their own government, which coupled with their ostensible patriotism is hypocrisy bordering on the obscene. But President Obama (Merton Muffley) seems to have no vision at all - not on health care, where he hung Congressional Dems out to dry but fortunately Nancy Pelosi toughed it out despite our President's almost complete absence. Nor does he have any jobs programs, and his cap and trade proposal is being talked about by Republicans but not the President whose environemntal bona fides have melted even faster than the ice caps. The reason the republicans have gotten so insane is the lack of healthy ideas and follow-through from the Dems. It's still more palatable for a pol in America to call himself a Conservative than a liberal, which means the R's are still winning on temerity. Without a thorough drubbing by the Dems in the marketplace of ideas the Republicans will continue to stagnate and decay and drag American down with them. The Dems need some real guts that will result in progressive legislation, such as pushing for an affordable non fossil-fuel car with the same urgency as Kennedy's pledge to put a man on the moon. No wonder young people stayed home last Tuesday. What was there to inspire them? And the idea that health care reform, even if passed, won't begin until after President Obama's reelection campaign in 2012 ought to give every Democrat in the country pause. What is our logy party up to? Axelrod and Plouffe geniuses? We'll see in 2010 and I wouldn't bet on them being vindicated.

  35. As a Californian who has seen the state university system lose 20 percent of its state funding in a single year because of the paralysis embedded in this state's constitution, I find this column to be chillingly on the mark. It is incumbent on Democrats to effectively advance and defend aggressive policy moves to address not only health care but also the economy (if we need more stimulus, then let's for it!), education, immigration and global warming. We can best fend off the paranoid right if we're spending less time worrying about them and more time acting responsibly in the interest of the nation and its future.

  36. A generation ago, my grandfather spent 15 years in the California Assembly. He ran as a Republican and in many ways was a good Republican: he was thrifty, pro-business, and loathed unions. But he believed that government could be a force for good in peoples' lives and in investing in infrastructure to this end. He was a big supporter of education and child care centers and pushed for these to be available to all, even illegal immigrants.

    I have to emphasize that these were the years of the McCarthy and John Birch Society infestations. The Republicans had plenty of people on the far right, but it was big enough to contain my grandfather as well. The extremists were there but didn't run the show.

    Now the crazy guy in the attic is the Republican mainstream. My grandfather would be labeled a RINO and run out of the party on a rail.

  37. I share your perceptions and your concerns. It is important when dealing with paranoids to follow an old adage from psychiatry-don't spare their feeling! Paranoids have a firm belief that they are the only ones who see the reality and if you go soft on them they grow stronger and more convinced that they are right. Our opposition to them must be firm and relentless. It is a mistake for the Grand Old Party to try to use them to achieve their own agenda and it is destructive to the democratic process of this nation. Jerry

  38. Really, Paul, all you are doing here is constructing a large strawman for those who support capitalism. If you choose to read them, there are rational reasons to oppose the current health reform plans and cap-and-trade. You may disagree with them, but surely you recognize that rational people will not always agree on everything. Trying to attack those who wish to promote economic liberty by associating all of them with the lunatic fringe of the GOP is quite disingenuous. There are irrational, lunatic fringe activists on the left too.

  39. They're right about one thing: America has in fact been taken away from them. And until they come up with a better agenda than "drill baby drill" they're not getting America back.

  40. "The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."

    Paul, you sound paranoid.

  41. I think your fear is well-founded and that we're living through the end of the empire.

  42. I thought Obama would bring real reform and voted/canvassed/contributed to his candidacy. Instead the first thing he did was bailout bankers with back room deals without demanding an iota of reform or without holding anyone accountable. If the conservatives can go after the bankers and bring back some fiscal discipline, including some accountability to the Fed 9as Ron Paul demands), I'll hold my nose and vote for my local conservative candidate.

    Enough of waiting for change. The anarchy of a conservative rebellion is probably the best hope we have to shake the nation up and have everyone focus back on the basics. Voting for a "progressive" candidate, Obama, certainly didn't do it.

  43. The froth of the mad-dog right is daily being unleashed in our airwaves. They have encouraged the murder of those who do not share their religious views on abortion, attempted to intimidate political rivals by displaying weapons at their rallies, and sowed with their hatred the seeds of Oklahoma City. Violence is clearly no problem for these folks. One must wonder, should they continue to gain in power and influence within the Republican party, whether we are looking at the beginning of the next American Civil War. If they are so gun-crazy now, and feel legitimized in their use of racist, xenophobic and homophobic language, how long will be before they begin parading their militias, and then how long before they begin putting them to use.

  44. I watched a lot of the healthcare debate on C-Span and even after hours of hearing Republican Representatives at "work", I'm still unsure what if anything they are for.

  45. The Irony is staggering - that so many conservatives have taken to using methods which, though legally protected, reflect values that are 'Un-American' in order to define Liberals, Democrats and Progressives as 'Un-American'.

    That any thinking followers are swayed by this is disconcerting, alarming and ultimately horrifying - the 'Dachau' poster illustrates the absolute lack of American Values of a group interested in winning at ANY cost - including doing actual harm to this great nation by fomenting such intense division, by spreading outright lies intent on Fear-Mongering and most especially by suggesting that so many people who live here are NOT 'True Americans'!

    We are, all of US and all of THEM, True Americans. They seek to spread Fear, Hate, Intolerance, Misinformation and THAT BEHAVIOR is Un-American, but they remain Americans. Listen carefully as they escalate their Sophist Rhetoric to ultimately suggest that Our President is Disloay, an Enemy of Liberty and of this Nation.

    Regardless of Political Party - It is the lowest, most despicable behavior I've ever witnessed by any Party on any Subject, save perhaps (and of course): McCARTHYISM!

  46. The Republicans will return in 2010 unless the Democrats can show that government can be effective to meet the real needs of American.

    So far after 10 months of a Democratic President and a Democratic majority in Congress it looks like the Republicans will return in 2010.

  47. I am a Republican ashamed of my own party. They, of all people, should know the meaning of the word "republic". It simply does NOT mean "not a monarchy". And monarchies simply are not inherited. It is the difference between a rental apartment building and a condominium apartment building: the difference between a private realm and public realm; the difference between a personal kingdom and a people's kingdom. Based on that definition, a Republican has to ask how powerful and intrusive can our state be without endangering the public ownership of the kingdom.

    Public healthcare would not endanger the public ownership of this very extended federated realm we call "the United States." A healthy people is better equipped to own the kingdom. What does endanger our republic is the siren calls of blindly rigid, overly passionate, very ignorant faction. What allows us to still own this country is that power is NOT concentrated in any part of our government, but still, it is up to all of us to say "NO" to the extremists --especially my fellow Republicans. If we do not do that, then the country will be governed all right but governed by a very possessive, very oppressive, extremist cabal.

    It would certainly not be "We the People" owning our realm, but the extremists violently possessing and violently wielding the kingdom to their own perverse will.

  48. I am not sure that the opposition this time is any more threatening in real terms than they were in the latter part of the Reagan era. The concentration of Right Wing media has simply intensified over time. Any hint of subtle argument has completely evaporated. The Willie Horton attacks on Dukakis were no less severe. They were merely presented with more sophistication.

    No one anticipated that an entire television network, even a cable network, or a large scale radio syndication could be taken over by the Right Wing, pouring out propaganda and invective like opening a fire hydrant.

    Perhaps even more astonishing would have been the idea of someone on a daily basis broadcasting rude and profane commentary about decent citizens, dedicated public officials or honest judges. Certainly no one would listen to that kind of nonsense...would they? But they did, at least five million or more every day. Not a political majority, but certainly a large enough group to be troublesome. They are politically speaking a minority...therefore by definition losers...but annoying nonetheless.

    Moreover, no one realized that sustained, continuous insult would be considered acceptable free speech. Once it became clear that there were people who would make a damned good living, a career of sorts, by simply entertaining less-educated Americans by insulting more-educated Americans, the country gradually accepted it as part of the communications spectrum. It is a relatively new phenomenon, after all..twenty years or so.

    The disturbing aspect is that there are people in the top tier of American society, with enough money to subsidize the ugly speech of a growing number these radio and television commentators to try to suppress the will of the majority.

    Every Presidency has its antagonists and the greater the President the more harsh the speech. We could accept the harsh opposition in response to the good fortune of having elected a Lincoln or a Roosevelt or an Obama. Remember that Roosevelt had his enormous detractors, reactionaries, going so far as to attack his "little dog Fala." In all three cases there were and are those who want swift and aggressive action from the Left and from the Right.

    While the decibel level has risen substantially, the content--perhaps falling victim to the same voracious demands of the expanded television and Internet outlets--has diminished greatly. A comparison of health care reform to barbarous genocide by showing an actual concentration camp photograph is beyond grotesque.

    The only thing left for these people is to look for an even more unpleasant and vicious approach each time they crawl out from wherever they reside.

    They will eventually see that jobs are coming back. Some will lose their jobs in the meantime and that will focus their attention on important matters. They will find that their neighbors, now relieved to know that health care will be available, and that troops are coming home from Iraq and that green energy jobs are on the way...will begin to ignore their tea parties and minor mob incidents.

    It will pass. Everything does.

  49. Great insight. I concur.

  50. Paul's editorial points out a major problem with the Political Party system in America. At present there is no competition with Third Parties so that another political party can take over from the Republicans or Democrats if they become too irrelevant to the rest of the population. This is in effect an oligopoly of two groups with political ideas, nobody else gets a hearing. We need serious competition amongst ideas and political parties more than we need it in the Marketplace.

  51. Prof. Krugman is right. The once mighty USA is starting to look more and more like an ungovernable rabble.
    The massive collapse in the financial system is testing America's capacity to deal with failure.
    So far, the response from the perpetrators has been to pretend it was just a normal adjustment, and let business carry on as usual.
    The political response from the GOP, just say NO, is predicated on extending the impact of failure for political advantage.
    All this clearly demonstrates that Americans have lost sight of any sense of united purpose and the common good.
    As Peter Sellers once said in a dig at the Brits.... "I'm alright Jack"
    How things have changed in only 50 years.

  52. From 7,000 miles away in Australia, it is looking like America is in real trouble managing its democracy. So many angry voters who pay little attention to facts and an awful lot of knee-jerk populism that is poisoning the body politic of your fine country.
    The rest of the first world just shakes their collective heads in amazement that universal health care, decent pay and conditions for workers (yes, even in recessions) and quarantining education budgets are not publically supported in the USA. Cutting in any of these areas damages the social fabric and cripples a generation of new students and workers. It is so short-sighted, especially in the wealthiest nation in the world. I have no idea how you folks can stop the madness, but if you don't, America will soon be a very scary place indeed.

    I rememeber living in the US in the 80's during Reagan's time and thinking that I couldnt wait to get back hime to a country where ordinary people's lives were much easier. Australia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world (and we didn't go into recession)and yet we have managed to do that without rabid right wing economic policies.

    We have universal health care, comprehensive social security and high minimum wages and an excellent govt education system. No-one who visits see any signs of national socialism or communism - just ordinary citizens who don't face bankruptcy, homelessness or starvation just because they have become ill or lost their job.

  53. What is becoming to America? Republicans have lost all their mind. Voters are too gullible to get rid of this menace. Have they been hurt enough?

  54. Prediction: There will be a HC bill that reaches Obama's desk.

    Public option is not good for insurance companies.
    Mandatory insurance is good for insurance companies.

    So what will the final bill have in its final version.

    What was the biggest issue ? abortion payments not mandatory insurance.

    Both parties playing people to fight against each other on irrelevant hot button issues while making sure corporations get what they want.

  55. The Democrats are losing support because they have not taken the lead in legislating oversight and regulation of the banks and financial institutions that caused our current economic mess. By giving billions and billions of tax dollars to the culprits with no real strings attached, the Democrats appear to be maintaining the status quo. This is not change we can believe in.

    It has taken decades for the Republicans' economic philosophy of deregulation and free market capitalism to bring us to this perilous point and with the right wing extremists now running the Republican show, it is easy to think that we ain't seen nothin' yet. California here we come!

  56. "Californified"? That's a new one. People who live in the Golden (not Goldman) State are accustomed to seeing Oregon cars with the bumper sticker, "Don't Californicate Oregon."

    A recent Paul Krugman column spoke of California becoming a Banana republic. Now we see that the Banana Republicans are turning the whole country into one.

    It seems to me that what the Banana Republicans are playing to is mostly the fear of unemployment. Moreover, I think the free trade ideologues, such as Professor Krugman, are reinforcing this.

    Can you, Professor, explain in concrete terms just how NAFTA, the WTO, and H1-B visas bring anything but harm to American workers? I'll keep reading your columns, but until you address this issue, I will do so with a jaundiced eye.

  57. The scary thing about this op-ed is that it's true. California is a great example, the GOP has yet to provide a good example or reason as to why it could be considered a viable alternative to the democrats in governing the Golden State; just look at the way they treat Arnold. Any GOP moderate it seems these days is considered a heretic by the far right and is either cast out, burnt at the partisan stake, or silenced by the bully-pulpits of Limbaugh, Beck, et al. The GOP as it stands now is not a party of governance or values, it is a party of fear. Fear drives their policies. Fear drives their support. Fear has seized the party platform. Fear will dominate in 2010 and 2012 just like it did in '02 and '04. Yet hopefully, like any nightmare, once a person wakes up and realizes it was all a frightful fantasy, the fear will move on. I guess the real question is how much longer will the nightmare continue before the GOP wakes up? In this case, it seems appropriate to remember FDR's words: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself..."

  58. So true. It is terrible what is happening. I am not a Republican by any means, but what I am seeing is a growing organization of hate. Hate for the current President. Hate for any policies that can benefit everyone in the country. Hate for anyone that is not a member of the party leading the charge in all this (and that means those Republicans in the middle).

    Whatever happened to helping one another. Of being responsible for each other. If the far right of Sarah, Glen, Rush read their Bible with a little more focus they will see that it does talk about loving thy neighbor and such. Of course, maybe they believe neighbor means anyone who thinks like them.

    It is getting to the point that you want to re-think citizenship in the US and search for something better elsewhere.

    Our Founding Fathers were right to build Washington DC in a swamp. Because that is where it is right now.

  59. I think that the neologism popularized by the former Oregon Governor Tom McCall--Californicate--remains superior to Californiafied.

  60. Well you might be right but what's the solution? It will take a socially liberal and fiscally conservative person (Democrat or Republican) to standup forcefully for the middle. That person will have to risk something. Instead, we'll only be forced by circumstances instead. That'll happen as you suggested on other posts--when our economy takes another dive.

  61. The United States is breaking up, in effect becoming Balkanized. It's economy taken less and less seriously by developed nations. The dollar, on it's way to third-world status. American values, once admired, now viewed with a jaundiced eye. The "we're number one" mantra, now laughable. And, talk about worry over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the hands of Taliban-types. Better think closer to home and our own right-wing-nuts.

    As an American who cares deeply for my country (the Adirondack Park region, gorgeous), I could weep...and do.

  62. You're right, Mr. Krugman. It could be very bad for ''America,'' aka the United States.

    However, it might be very good for the rich, the superrich and the multi-national corporations who are the REAL ''America'' in these times.

    Take off your blinders, man. The revolution occurred while you were looking elsewhere.

  63. Mr. Krugman, still intent on fiddling while Rome burns. The winner of a Nobel Prize in Economics, which in his case should be taken just about as seriously as Mr. Obama's.

    He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time moaning, groaning and sending out dire warnings about the dangers of the Evil Republicans and what a taint they are to this country and its ability to govern. Curiously, for a Nobel Prize winning economist, Mr. Krugman seems to lack even the most rudimentary grasp of mathematics. He is completely unable to compute the reality of numbers in Congress or the Senate. Astonishingly, he is incapable of performing the most basic arithmetic: His beloved Democrats hold majorities in both Houses. Majorities which easily enable his pet political party to pass any legislation through that they might desire. Why is it, then, that the majority party can't achieve what Mr. Krugman wishes them to achieve?

    Oh, right. Those Evil Republicans must have used like, y'know, some kind of spell. Or something..

  64. Although the GOP is completely out of control, the country is already somewhat ungovernable because of so-called moderates, almost all of them Democrats. As you have repeatedly said, these "responsible" politicians have maintained that they cannot vote to increase the deficit. Yet most of these same people voted for the Bush tax cuts, Medicare Presricption Drug Act, and wars. It has been irritating to hear them speak condescendingly of what is "reasonable"--even while their own skewed policy logic defies reason--but it is beyond outrageous that they should invoke moral language to justify their position, as Joe Lieberman did this Sunday. He said he would filibuster a bill with a public option "as a matter of conscience." Of course Lieberman's assertion that the public option would explode the debt is unwarranted and, in all probability, disingenuous (he may not be the sage the media portrays him as but he's smart enough to remember the CBO's most important figures); but his appeal to morality reaches another level of outrage. I think it deserves a full column. This healthcare legislation has a long way to go just to pass, and it's time to call out--again and on an even more individual basis--those who would invoke conscience to defend the unconscionable: denying a fundamental human right to tens of millions of people at a higher cost to future generations.

  65. Krugman is a smart guy who ought to no better than to charicature political opponents in this way, but I guess American politics is past the point of good sense. No doubt there are right-wingers for whok the "paranoid" style of politics is appealing. But gee, all you have to do is read the comments here at the Times online to see lots of loopy views of paranoid, hostile left-wingers. And that's within the presumably strict bounds of the Times' comment moderation! Check out a few of the well-trafficked left-leaning websites and you'll see unhinged animosity, deep bitterness, and disturbingly authoritarian groupthink, not to mention borderline hysteria from time to time and the occasional violent threat.

    So what to make of all this? For a start, people in influential positions like Krugman could exercise a bit more restraint and responsibility, rather than inciting more animosity in every other column. Remember, Mr. Krugamn, the people you support now have all the power, while the people you excoriate are essentially powerles to do anything but wave placards and annoy you. Big deal!

  66. Why is so much attention paid the right fringe? We on on the left "fringe"--you know, the people who settled for the robust public option--want some attention too. Would it help if we carried pictures of women bleeding from below after botched illegal abortions? Because access to a safe abortion is in extreme danger right now. If I may be the "Conscience of a Liberal" is it too much to ask that Paul Krugman not waste his soapbox worrying about internal Republican party politics?

  67. So the extreme left is worried about the fate of the GOP. Please, no one on the right takes Krugman with a grain of salt. He's not worried that the right are not part of what's going on in Calif. He's worried that the GOP won't even want to govern in Calif.

    The left has destroyed Calif. Why should the right even want to come to the aid of the one-time "Golden State"? Look at the state legislature, the residents of Calif. keep electing extreme leftest to run the state. The fund programs the destroy the credibility of Calif. The state is broke! And calling the current gov. a Republican is like call Krugman and the Times moderates.

    Look what the left has done and continues to do to Calf., and what Obama is doing to the rest of America. Krugman dosen't want the GOP to govern, he just wants them to be available to take some of the blame for the current chaos the left is inflicting on Calif. and the nation.

    "Become ungovernable"! Hey, that's Calif. now...the rest of the nation is next. It's the democrats doing.

  68. Anyone concerned with the direction of the radical right needs to pay very close attention to Hannah Arendt's account of the growth of the pan-movements in Eastern Europe and Russia prior to the rise of the totalitarian parties. I realize such comparisons are part and parcel of the very craziness of the right, but we have to keep in mind that Karl Rove's explicitly stated political tactic was to accuse his opponents of the very sin he himself had committed. Everyone also needs to take a look at Sheldon Wolin's argument in Democracy Inc. that America is in danger of succumbing to a form of government he describes as inverted totalitarianism. The structural similarities are strong: the nominal leader of totalitarian governments is a highly charismatic entertainer rather than tyrant; party politics are based on randomized fear and isolation; totalitarianism begins with the mass disaffection of multiple social classes from the state; and totalitarian ideology is based on universalized, imperial expansionism as a foreign policy with strong racism as a core.

    http://www.amazon.com...

    http://www.amazon.com...

  69. This country is as angry and as divided as I have ever seen it. I thought the Big O was supposed to bring us all together. Instead, his election has unleashed a fury on the right and dug up for the center strong misgivings about the direction of this country. The system is broken, and no one man is going to be able to fix it. I hear the rumblings of a revolution afoot.

  70. Maybe it will be good for America if the GOP is reduced to a rump party. Isolated on the national level, and without the relatively reasonable economic reasoning of the wealthy part of the GOP, the radical right will quickly repulse its constituents. It's about time that people in poor states in the middle and south of the country start voting for the Democrats, who are much closer to representing their actual interests. If people vote based on reason rather than faith, it is better for democracy.

  71. Oh Prof. K,
    surely you haven't been blind to the increasingly shrill, panicked, and angry voices spurred on by Fox News, Rush and AM Talk radio? Have you been blind to the exponential growth in gun sales? (Of all things, there is an actual shortage in ammunition, as gun owners are now buying everything available. Talk about a growth industry for America.)

    As a brilliant economist, have you not noticed at least the economic similarities, and populist mood resemblance, to 1923 Weimar Germany? I am a Californian who attended a town hall "meeting" complete with folks carrying "unloaded" guns. (Although as one wag said in an interview after the event: "if the gun was unloaded, it wouldn't be much good, now would it.")

    We are reliving history. We only lack a screaming demagogue politician to point out who is to blame (insert the convenient scapegoat here) and to focus the mob mentality into a laser of hate, and we have... Well, we've seen this movie before.

    We have passed the point of reasoned discourse. The right have found success in fomenting fear and anger, so much that violence is bragged about and presented as a desirable method of change. And the moderates are dismissed as cowards, or traitors.

    I feel more and more like someone trapped on a speeding bus, whose driver is unconscious. The cliff approaches.

    Perhaps America's lasting gift to history will be as a cautionary tale.

  72. Someone has got to get the message across to these Brown Shirts that their enemy is the corporations not the people who want to regulate them. If a true 1930's-style populism were to sweep this country, the moneyed elite would be booted from the halls of power and a real, workable coalition of progressives and self-identified "conservatives" could govern this country effectively. Unfortunately, FOX "news," hate-speech radio, and militant Christian preachers have so addled the minds of their targets that they are no longer capable of thinking straight. But these people are potentially our best friends if we can only figure out how to get through to them -- like intervening to save a meth addict from total self-destruction.

  73. Krugman:
    "Back in 1964 the historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay titled, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which reads as if it were based on today’s headlines: “America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.”"

    Uhh, this could’ve been written about Democratic activists (and Krugman himself) a year and a half ago. Anyone remember “Bush is destroying our country and everything it stands for”? But of course Democrats were right then and Republicans are wrong now, right?

  74. The mantra in Republicanland used to be, "Just do what they say and your life will be wonderful. Even if it makes no sense or is wrong." Well, an awful lot of people just did what they said, and look what happened. . .

  75. There are precedents for the current period: the "Jackson/Anti-Jackson" period, after the conservative Federalists and their successors fell apart and before the Whigs got their footing; and the pre-Republican period when the conservative Whigs fell apart.

    In both cases the supposedly conservative party fell out of step with populist interests. America has always had conservative and progressive strands of populism, and any party needs to align with one or the other to win a governing majority.

    Jackson was a liberal populist with a preference for a decentralized government; that's one of a handful of traditional American approaches to politics that have been forgotten by our current elites. (Remember that Jackson shut down the Federal Reserve of the time).

    The current tension between centralized conservatism and centralized progressivism is what's unprecedented in American history, and it is what's making it hard to rule from Washington. Europeans have a history of a small cadre of conservative elites facing off against a small cadre of progressive elites, and bringing large factions with them. America has a tradition of decentralizing rural liberals facing off against decentralizing urban industrialist conservatives. That doesn't match very well with the current party philosophers.

    So it seems reasonable to expect a re-alignment. It has happened before.

  76. Sorry, but this kind of words doesn't help any problems. It's already not clear who is at fault in California (many would say excessive government spending), and to many people on the right, it just looks like you are blaming future economic troubles on Republicans in advance.

    I support the health care reform also, but I'm getting nervous about how divided this country become because of it. We have on one hand most Republicans thinking this bill will become a disaster, and on the other hand most Democrats refusing to compromise on abortion for the sake of a much larger issue. In addition, there are many, many reasonable people who think with good reasons that we cannot pay for this bill.

    I think the Democrats should compromise more in the Senate to get this through with at least senator Snowe's vote. The health care system can still be improved in the future, when the economy is more stable. On the other hand, the Democrats should focus more on the current economy and on climate change, which actually does have a ticking clock attached to it.


  77. Mr Krugman your fear that "...the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster."

    You miss the historical events happening in this country and the fact that democrats are as angry as republicans but will express that anger by taking back the responsibility of government by direct means.

    Government in this country is governed from the bottom up not the top down.

    The transgression of the elected over decades has broken the bonds of the people to its government and this may lead to an exercise the right of the people, given in our Constitution, to change its form of government.

  78. for god sakes krugman....why are you lambasting the party out of power? The party currently in power is perfectly capable of dismantling what remains of this fascist masterpiece..."amerika"...

    Your presumed response.....
    "we need MORE deficit spending!!!!!" lol
    "floor it Obama!"

  79. Indeed, when Obama hails as "courageous" a HR affirmative vote under 51% (with an abortion constraint), representing a population that regularly polls affirmative over 70% (without such constraint), one wonders what he thinks they stood up to.

  80. We've become a reflection of the Jerry Springer show through politics. Its sad. The US is going down hill because it fails to deal with issues that are affecting the future of this country. The Baby Boomers had everything handed to them and blew it for all future generations.

  81. Krugman, you are simply getting more hysterical as time goes on. As are the protesters.

  82. Mr. Krugman, you have hit right on the nail. You say, “The banker-friendly bailout of Wall Street has angered voters, and might even let Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism.” You might add something like: “The health care reform which is supposed to be Mr. Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative but in which he has not pursued a reform favored by a majority of ordinary citizens but, instead, chose to pursue legislation whose principal impact would be insuring the continuing prosperity of the health insurance industry but offering relatively little or dubious benefits to middle-class families, would certainly help create and even appear to justify the bizarre spectacle in which the Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism.”
    Isn’t it strange, ridiculous and really ironic that the Republican Party, whose only discernible policies are tax cuts for the super-rich, more unnecessary wars and giving the maximum freedom to mega-corporations to gouge profits from ordinary people, can now claim the mantle of economic populism? But this certainly would not be possible without a lot of help from the Obama administration.
    Economic or other populism or any progressive movement is undermined and destroyed more effectively from within than by any opposing political forces, when their supposed leaders act in ways fundamentally contrary to their cause. It is quite possible that this subversive impact on the progressive movement might turn out to be the most important long-term legacy of the Obama administration. Similar phenomenon was observed under the Clinton’s presidency. But if this is what is happening again under Mr. Obama’s presidency, it is probably happening in far more destructive ways than under the Clinton administration precisely because the popular excitement, expectation and trust about Mr. Obama and his intention to make real change that were ignited in the 2008 presidential election were that much greater and the disappointment from the betrayal by Mr. Obama, consequently, that much more profound.

  83. Mr. Krugman -

    You'd have a much better understanding of the extremity of public feelings if you'd read your colleague-in-print Frank Rich's Saturday 11/7 column about why so many people, and not just those you consider immanent fascists, are upset with things the way they are now. These things have been facilitated in recent years by members of both political parties, in the service of essentially unrestrained financial opportunism and greed, with cynical disregard for the well-being of the citizens of the United States of America.

    It would be useful to your readership if you'd turn your attention from those visibily being manipulated by the whipmasters of the big money to the holders and controllers of the wealth itself. Are you, by chance, willing to do so?

  84. What the world fears is the extremism of the american right.

  85. Paul: You are right and I'm glad I'm old.

  86. The right wing is very good at accusing others of what they themselves are becoming. "National Socialist Health Care" ? The National Socialists were the Nazi party in Germany before and during WWII. And in this country it's not Obama and the people looking for heathcare reform that are the modern day Nazi equivalents. It is the far right wingers themselves.
    I hope people wake up to the real threat to democracy before it's too late.

  87. Ronald Reagan got many to vote against their own interest.

    Ironically, what could be more anti-self than to be "angry" at legislation, however flawed, designed to ensure health care? Do these believe they or their loved ones will never get sick?

    It's very strange thinking and behavior.

  88. You forgot to mention Sean Hannity as a pot stirrer, Paul. He's been playing to the base and stoking up his ratings in the process. Sean took it upon himself to play the newspaper mogul Kay Thorndyke of "State of the Union" by featuring Doug Hoffman several times on his program and dropping Hoffman's name in practically every other sentence in the days leading up the 23rd District special election.

    This is certainly not my father's Republican party, nor is it mine. But to me the Democrats are even worse. Please, oh please give me a viable centrist party for us level-headed, middle of the road folks. Contrary to what Rush Limbaugh says, I have principles--for starters, I don't buy his right wing folderol. To boot, the Pelosi-Frank-Waxman crowd in Congress couldn't give a rip about Middle America.

    Ye gad--Mexico offers its people a third party option. But America? Nope.

  89. The process of globalization has turned US into a virtually broke and a second rated country. It happened in a slower paste to the UK in the late 19 century, but it is happening faster to US. Have you thanked your neighborhood banker lately? Where is the Time on this issue?

    Any way, this is an excellent work by Paul Krugman. Thank you

  90. The real rebellion will come once everyman realizes that both parties have been taken over by corporations and lobbying money and that neither party cares about him.

    Hopefully everyman will forever be too sedated, commercialized and polarized to realize this.

    The health care bills are examples of this. Everyone wants health care reform yet every proposal is a bad bill amd doesn't solve the problem. Yet both Democrats and Republicans will claim victory, everyman will lose and the corporations and moneyed interests will win.

  91. Mix a few more Know-Nothing Screamers with the corporate-toady Blue Dogs, stir in a spineless Democratic Congressional leadership and a don't-rock-the-boat administration, and we'll have us a full recipe for paralysis and disaster.

  92. The internecine battles are mostly within the Democrat party, with the uber-libs fighting with the centrists. The Republicans will take over in 2010, but only if they follow true conservative principals: smaller government, lower taxes, private sector job growth, and liberty over tyranny.

  93. An excellent and distressing column!

    This should be a call... and a real opening... for a true multi-party system instead of the lumbering, ineffectual, money sucking beasts we now have.

    When Obama was sworn in, he could have issued a few executive orders to send a signal the HE was in charge. #1 for me would have been an immediate closure of Guantanamo and secret prisons an torture centers. What did we get? Nada.

    After he made a slew of "in-good-faith" attempts to work with the Congressional Republicans and was clearly ignored and worse, Obama continued to dance around, rather than simply using the considerable clout he carried along from the election, trotting out a "see, I tried dealing with these clowns" PR blitz and ramming home legislation that We the People thought wad voted for.

    Instead, he has simply continued many unsavory Bush policies. This sort of thing sent as powerful a signal as did the Wall Street money shower.

    Where's MY economic recovery, Mr. President?

  94. As Mr. Krugman repeatedly makes know in his columns, the Republicans are clearly at the mercy of right-wing extremists, and it is now near impossible for the elected Democrat majority to govern at state and national levels. Hoping the Republican Party can somehow reform itself to rubber stamp Democrat Party legislation is a farce that only maintains our traditional two-party system of government. Perhaps this current framework needs to be reformed for the good of the country. A multi-party system with coalition governments would only bring chaos to an already broken system held hostage to partisan politics. A workable solution to the current crisis, even if it would be a short-term one, might be to amend the Constitution to make the Democrat Party the sole legal political party to hold power in state and federal government. A single-party system doesn't abolish universal suffrage. A democratic system of government would still be in place where the American people - not the party - vote which candidates should represent them in the legislative and executive branches. The current terms for holding office wouldn't need to be changed at all. Think of it as having a one-party primary with no general election afterwards. The upshot is less campaigning and partisan bickering and the needs of the national finally being addressed.

  95. Thank you, Paul, for this.

    One might apply Godwin's Law here, which says that whoever uses Nazi comparison in an argument, loses. G.O.P. does not seem to have any interest in rational argueing anyway, but only in damaging the Democrats and the President. Looks like the habits of an impudent 8-year old rascal, whose parents have taken away his favorite toy.

    But this is not fitting, and it is not funny at all. The thought that these people may come into power in a few years, gaining control over the most superior military force ever, does not only make me feel unwell. This strikes me with real fear.

    And I am saying this as a German citizen, having multi-decade experience with both Nazi comparisons and the threat of major military forces.

  96. “If this (“… California”) happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster.

    It has happened Mr. Krugman.

    Almost 50% of Americans voted against Obama and just more than 50% voted for “Change”. Both sides lost.

    We got more Wall Street crimes and derivative trading in another format, half-rumped Health Care plans no one understands, more War, more dead Americans, increasing unemployment and a ranting GOP and arrogant Democratic party that only cares about the money trail to their front door and keeping their own Health care plans and pensions.

    None of this is a laughing matter on both sides.

    Nothing has “changed” from George Bush. In some ways it is worse. Is Nancy Pelosi any better than Sarah Palin deep down. They both don’t belong running anything except far from any job where they are supposed to help America.

  97. the paranoia that Hofstadter describes has always been there - a product of a deeply mixed and culturally divided society. However, if the level of enfranchisement achieved in the last presidential election continues the paranoid fringe will remain just a fringe.

  98. Luckily, today we have "hate crime" laws and the potential to enforce FCC laws and curtail the harm the far right may try to inflict on a nation that has elected a black president and is about to pass a health care reform bill. While it may inflame this fringe, it is essential for the Obama administration to succeed and the health reforms with it that we thoughtfully remind the nation that this wing of the Republican party fought bitterly against Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in the 1960s.

  99. There is a political saying that the country gets the party it deserves, that says it all; we are a country with a very short memory, the knowledge that it was the Republicans that created the diasters somehow slipping away. If, as suggested, the right wing experiences success in its plans then eventually the rest of the world will isolate us. I was in both Asia and Europe for work during the reign of George Bush and during the astounding Sarah Palin for VP period and there was wide disbelief at who we'd evidently become. In terms of ungovernable....I think we're already there. German friends, observing the fear tactics, are indeed reminded of the period during the rise of Hilter; this is how they see the "new" GOP.

  100. There is no if, the Republicans hate any government that restricts profit and they control the government to this day.
    The health care bill, for example, is two tiered system males and second class women, a republican value.
    With the filibuster , which isn't in the constitution, we suffer the same minority control and destruction that consumed California . America is done, thanks to the ignorance that is running rampant.


  101. Paul Krugman makes a case that is not easy to dismiss..BUT.. what is to be done by those of us moderate enough to want improvement and co-operation without abandoning our conservative beliefs? Religion is not involved here, nor should it be, but somewhere people have to take a political position and defend it.

    Those of us born in the 40's have seen so much wonderful improvements in America coupled with so much loss of principle and honor that government failure does not seem impossible. Most are running scared , not scared of changing demographics, but disintegrating morals. Nothing is barred, nothing means more than power and riches, patriotism is passe' and we have to honor all beliefs even if they are unhuman.. torture and murder in foreign countries is accepted as just part of their culture, American laws are not just broken , b ut ignored and not enforced because of fear of being politically incorrect, soldiers slaughter brother soldiers, bankers slaughter decades of retirement dreams..America has never been in such a desperate need for leadership and direction.

    President Obama was close to the truth during his campaign when he said something about the poor being so discouraged that they seek refuge in religion and guns. A very scary, and very astute observation.

  102. Right on. I have thought for some time that we were on the verge of becoming ungovernable.

    The risk that we will stale and other nations will succeed us.

  103. Love those Buffalo Springfield allusions!

  104. I get more & more unhappy with Mr. Krugman.

    Extremism in American politics is the result of failure to govern.

  105. Yeah, and the incompetence of the current occupant of the White House -- elected merely because he's Oprah's lapdog -- assures Palin's victory in 2012.

  106. I believe your statement that the Republican party has been taken over by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to be overstated and designed to tamper the reality of our collective situation.

    Yes, there are those zealots who follow some talking head dogma, but the majority of those protesting are truly concerned with the direction our country is taking when it comes to such issues as healthcare and job creation. President Obama promised that unemployment would not break the 8 percent level should his stimulus package back in February and now we stand at over 10 percent - he lied to pass his $800 billion turkey. In response, all the left can muster is we need to spend more.

    Like GWB on Iraq, Obama and his cronies cannot admit the error of their ways and it is the taxpayer (both now and in the future) which will need to pay for his follies. Our economy will not improve from some massive government intervention, but rather from a slow improvement in market forces within the private sector.

    Limbaugh and Beck have not engineered the public's anger, but rather are reflective of the general mood and disappoint in our President and Congress.

  107. That is a frightening and sober analysis. I remember Chomsky recently expressing his concern about how ripe we are for some kind of demagogue - particularly one who is not obviously corrupt. Fortunately, Palin et al. have been so transparently corrupt - but that doesn't mean it will stay that way. Sad and scary.

  108. "Something unprecedented is happening here." Why cite Hofstadter's 1964 book? Is "the right" more paranoid about "the left" than vice versa? Krugman vs. Krauthammer? It's all pretty dispiriting.

  109. When you put it in the terms of "the party of Limbaugh and Beck" it certainly does add an ominous tone to future of politics in America. At some point devotees and fans of Rush and Beck must know that these two are just overpaid entertainers - don't they? That if they were offered a long-term overly paid job spouting leftist spiels that they'd take that job in a heartbeat?

    I worry for a country that falls for these uber entertainers - whether they've got a leftist or a rightist leaning - doesn't matter. What matters is that we are stuck with a too large segment of voters who are swayed by paid entertainers, voters who don't appear to do their own thinking. The founding fathers would never have believed the country they fought so valiantly for had become so dysfunctional.

  110. I suppose it's entirely predictable that Mr. Krugman would fall prey to the same "paranoia" that he ascribes only to others.

  111. You're absolutely right, Mr. Krugman.

    And as I sit here contemplating the content of the tirade I want to launch, I realize that nothing I say will alter even a single individual's opinion.

    The people on the fringe right are perpetually angry. And those who pander to them (Rush, Hannity et al) are perpetually evil. It's a pretty lucrative pandering. Tens of millions of dollars a year. Why would they quit?

    And why, flying in private jets or secure behind gated communities, would they want to?

    Does any rational human being imagine that they care about America?

  112. It's easy to fault the wingnut Republicans, but lets not forget the role the Democrats have played and continue to play in the destruction of America. Over the past eight years in virtually every bad thing that Bush did he received enough support from Democrats to make it happen.

    Yesterday we witnessed all but one Republican and thirty nine Democrats vote against watered down Health Care Reform. My Democrat "representative" was re-elected last year with a 28% margin and Obama won his district with an 8% margin and yet he voted against the house health care reform bill put forth by his party. Why? It couldn't have been the abortion issue. The Democrats betrayed women on that issue. It could only be because it's not generous enough to the corporations who finance his campaigns.

    Where is the transparency Obama promised us? Where is the New Deal? The banks are back to raking in money and we taxpayers are still on the hook if they blow it again.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  113. As the urgent issues before our nation continue to mount, this angry and destructive mob offers no real direction forward. Instead, they are content to spend their time gleefully tying our political shoelaces together, and apparently for nothing more than the juvenile thrill of watching our nation stumble.

    Thank you, Mr. Krugman, for a succinct and accurate presentation of the problem (for you mob-members: succinct means short), and may cooler heads ultimately prevail.

  114. One dissimilarity between California and the federal government lends some hope. California has a years long accretion of strictly gerrymandered districts that the state is locked into a Balcanized Dem/Repub balance, with Democrats in the majority in the senate. BUT, Proposition 13 (remember Howard Jarvis?) changed the constitution to mandate a 66.6% vote to pass any tax. So just a few republicans can lock the government from tax revenues, and that's the main cause of California's fiscal nightmare. The U.S. Congress is not quite so locked, but it's close with 60 votes in the Senate required to halt a filibuster.

    What really bothers me is who is funding the far right nutcases? Call me a conspiracy maven if you will, but I think it's the likes of Fox corporate and other big money giants (corporate and private) who just want the Republicans taken over by far right (i.e., fascists) as a huge red herring. If the Repubs can take the congress back, expect another 6-year round of huge tax cuts for the rich, e.g., the big money giants. That's the game that's afoot; all else is smoke and mirrors.

  115. This is actually one of the reasons why I've reconsidered emigrating to the US. There are a lot of things that I love about America, but the list of those that repulse me have grown significantly.

  116. Mr. Krugman, You are seriously scaring me now. . . .

  117. It is actual thoughtful leadership in both parties that makes so many oppose what Obama/Pelosi/Reid are doing...read what the Demcratic opposition to health care paln had to say about it...

    Stephanie Sandlin opposes the bill because of the “effect of the House bill on the nation’s long-term deficit, and more specifically, its failure to start bringing down the deficit and health-care costs in the long term.”

    Big tax, bigger entitlement, no reform. Thats the Democrats plan.

  118. What makes this analysis truly frightening is that I not only find myself in agreement with it, but I see very little chance of offsetting either the hard-right radicalization of the GOP or it's potential for significant mid-term electoral success.

    Once elected, President Obama made a calculated decision to move toward a political center that essentially no longer exists, surrounding himself with supposed 'centrists' from previous administrations and with strong ties to the very industries and institutions whose lack of effective oversight had led to the current economic crisis.

    When the political capital existed for bold moves, the administration settled instead for mere incrementalism. This gave the hard right an opportunity to take control of the political dialog, and at this point the President's 'capital' is virtually spent.

    The one hope I see to prevent a midterm GOP sweep in the House (if not the Senate) is if the loony tunes that have taken control of the GOP spin so far out of control that average Americans are able to see them for what they are. That, unfortunately, is a fairly slim hope.

  119. Yes, the republican party has morphed into a monster. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But the longer we dwell on the ridiculous things republicans say about health care, the more we're not dealing with plan itself--which is deeply, deeply flawed and possibly worse than what we have now.

    We need to hold the democrats to account for this and stop wasting our time talking about how crazy the republicans are.

  120. Yonkers, New York
    09 November 2009

    What Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman postulates here could very well be the shape of the future of America.

    Given the fact that the present serious economic crisis and its horrendous consequences to millions of Americans may not yield quickly to all the stimulative and restorative efforts exerted by President Obama, the Congress and the Federal Reserve, America is getting to be a very fertile ground for the extremist elements of the Republican party to regain political power starting in the elections of 2010--and even onward.

    Virginia and New Jersey starkly appear to be harbingers of what the future holds for Democrats.

    The American people are impatient, frustrated, disaffected, and hurting if not desperate for quick and easy fixes to the problems now bedevilling them.

    But President Obama does not have a magic wand which he could simply wave and make those problems go away. Those problems took eight previous years to develop fully, and it will take more than eight months, possibly even more than four years, to fix completely.

    But millions of hurting and desperate Americans, now driven more by emotion than by reason, are lashing out. This is precisely the kind of atmosphere in which extremist Republicans, egged on ceaselessly by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, William Kristol, Ann Coulter, Dick Armey, John Boehner, Michael Steele, Mitch McConnel, Jon Kyle, John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions and others of like mine, will be able to pursue their paranoid agenda for America.

    Mariano Patalinjug

  121. Partly, I believe these people were left out of the national conversation for too long, and by that I mean since the 1950s. They were isolated, and they grew strong. Rush, Beck, Palin, they've just managed to capitalize on these people, who will vote along the lines of key words/ideas.

    The greater risk, I believe, comes from the strength of evangelical churches, and their inroads into government. As someone who worked for an evangelical organization, I can assure you these people are using the most desperate sales techniques in order to bring people, and money, into their churches and pockets.

    I have seen the distributed materials that show how to argue against other religions. I've seen the power these pastors have, and the money they make. I can assure you that evangelical Christians are in your schools, being paid by the Federal government, seeking to convert your children and hopefully get you into the bargain. They want to save your soul, but they want to keep your tithe.

    This power runs to the root of the establishment of our country, and it is as shallow and self-serving as any other 'media'-based industry. They will change the course of history, and I'm sure they would lead us to war in the middle east, if they haven't done so already.

    Recent government decisions have empowered the far right. View the school voucher program as a method by which Christians schools can get money from the government. Blackwater is a born-again organization, and military officers are proselytizing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Faith-Based Initiative program is against the wishes of the founding fathers, and I'm sure awards a large part of their funding to evangelicals.

    The point is, these people are as motivated as you can imagine, have an iron-clad social philosophy that trumps all others, and are straining towards the reins of power. If they should attain it, as they have done in the past, they will lead our country into a moral and financial quagmire (remind you of anybody recent?) that will damage our interests and the world.

    They are to be feared, these people, for there utter conviction, and their willingness to have the ends justify the means. When you have God, in your head, telling you before bed each night that you're a spiritual warrior, and that you will be rewarded in heaven for wishing Armageddon, well, that's pretty whacky to start with. When you have your own president, and he starts a war on false information in a site of 'biblical significance', well, you have to be pretty happy about that, right?

  122. "But while the paranoid style isn’t new, its role within the G.O.P. is. "

    The question becomes; is this guy paranoid about paranoia?

    Afraid of public dissent? Ungovernable?

    This guy has a bad case of the "fear of the fear".

    He is also increasingly becoming a demogogue.

  123. Couldn't agree more. It seems countries that are going thru a tough economic crisis and have a miserable mass that is clamoring for relief always has a tendency to turn to some extreme form of politics in order to vent their frustrations on someone or something. How this venting takes form is something to watch out for, lest the countries ended up in a civil war.

  124. There is commited minority with views outside the mainstream. The task of the moderates is to keep this group a minority and to establish thier own commited majority. Disregard these voters and cultivate your base. Forget about consensus, it's not happening.

  125. Interesting take, Professor. It certainly seems to me that the national mood is anti-incumbent, but perhaps I'm projecting my own feelings. I certainly agree that the country has become nigh ungovernable, but I believe it has more to do with the usurpation of power by corporate interests, the very interests to which both major parties are far too beholden. For my own part, I, a life-long Democrat, feel that both parties have deserted their electoral constituencies and I don't plan to vote for either major party. I have no way of knowing how many others feel this way or are on the verge of feeling this way, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number were significant. We might well be looking toward a very interesting election cycle.