The Education of Fanatical Centrists

Will they finally admit what the G.O.P. has become?

Comments: 257

  1. And to think how Republicans lyingly described President Obama, who really was largely a centrist, as an extremist who was trying to turn the United States into a different country! In reality, the GOP’s agenda has been for years and still is, fringe, not moderate.

  2. @NM Good point. They were doing what Trump does: as Nancy Pelosi says, when he accuses anyone of something, you can be sure it's what he is doing himself.

  3. @NM I would describe Obama as a moderate—meaning he exercised non-ideological judgment case by case to arrive at his policy—rather than a centrist in the sense that PK seems to mean here, if I am right to see a centrist as someone who "triangulates" to find a position in the middle. On some issues, Obama was progressive; on some, he was a tad conservative, if measured on a European left-right political scale. He seemed to me to actually think about what he really believed over time (case in point: his slow path to gay marriage) instead of knee-jerking his way to an opinion. That is why the Republican characterization of Obama as an extremist was so absurd. They liked to make shrieking noises, but I don't call anyone who actually said "here is a position Obama took, and here is why it is extremist when judged against the stated positions of the American public taken as a whole." Alas, I speak of him in past tense, as if the hopeful Obama years were shrouded in the oh-so-very-long-ago of history.

  4. @C Wolfe ...affordable health care for all is a centrist, accepted policy for generations abroad. Our GOP promotes a warped view, supporting excessive profits as 1st priority. Some of these profits go to finance election campaigns. Even Krugman never explains the contrast of how these countries have financed HC-- with voter support. I've wondered--- suppose our moderate, admirable Obama had strongly pushed for the public option with ACA, traveling around the country, and on TV in a campaign to explain how the public would benefit. Then if the GOP blocked it the public would reject them in elections. And suppose our moderate Bill Clinton had traveled around the country educating the public on why it was a bad idea to go along with the GOP to repeal the long standing bank regulations on the books since the 1930s? It would have educated the public and built public pressure to demand better protections and representation of their interests. Instead the public got rationalizations by Democrats for GOP sponsored laws.

  5. I agree with your thoughts on the GOP moving far right in the last 20 or so years. However, many moderate Republicans would rather stick with the GOP than ever vote for a Democrat. Even though they may agree with some of the Democratic party ideas, they have been brainwashed by Fox and feel that it is safer to stick with the GOP (or just not to vote). I just read an interesting article about Generation Z and how they believe in environmentalism, globalism, multiculturalism and a post-racial society. That is the future! We just have to get this generation to the polls when they are of age! The GOP realized in the mid-1980s that their support base is shrinking and they have been desperately trying to keep the power (many examples abound, such as denying a president to nominate a SCOTUS judge). But everything will be shifting and they know that their end is in sight. The question is how much damage will they do before their party becomes obsolete?

  6. @Kris D I have to disagree with your assertion that "many moderate Republicans would rather stick with the GOP than vote for a Democrat" What you're describing is in fact a rigid, partisan mindset that is anything but "moderate". A "moderate" Republican these days would've been considered a very conservative one 20 years ago. Republicans are reactionary extremists, period.

  7. @Kris D We need to cull our herd (the global population) by encouraging people to have fewer children. Then we need to start changing our mindset from the family being the core unit to villages and towns serving in that role, to bring us closer together in our diversity (and with fewer kids). This will be a tremendous undertaking, but it is the best path to a sustainable future.

  8. @Kris D Krish You can't stick a Moderate label to anyone who is currently voting for GOP.

  9. "With economic advance and accompanying social responsibility, the problems facing government increase in both complexity and diversity, not arithmetically but geometrically. There must then be either a knowledgeable electorate intellectually abreast of these issues and decisions, or a more or less total delegation of them to the state and its bureaucracy. Or there must be surrender to the voices of ignorance and error. These, in turn, are destructive of the social and political structure itself. There is no novelty in this last. All democracies live in fear of the influence of the ignorant. In the US, from experience with Huey Long, Gerald L.K. Smith, Father Coughlin, George Wallace, the more extreme of the religious fundamentalists and in recent times the militias, it is known that a certain percentage of the population is available to support virtually any form of political and social disaster. It is education and education almost alone that keeps this minority to a manageable number." - John Kenneth Galbraith, "The Good Society", 1996.

  10. @RAD61 In response to the threat posed by an educated public, the GOP strangles education funding, sets up for-profit alternatives, and institutes No Child Left Behind requirements for radical testing that leaves no time for the "fluff" of teaching civics, critical thinking, or the humanities that support civil engagement.

  11. @RAD61 Except that we have all been brain washed, habituated to believe that the capitalist system in its current form (forms shift) is basically OK and that the govmt should support it.. (Thus the ACA and not a universal single payer healthcare system. Thus, medicare advantage plans.) Thus, NAFTA, deregulation of Wall Street, getting rid of the luxury tax. There are so many arcane laws in place supporting the system.. and the big banksters and friends in real estate and lord knows what else - their wealthy friends from abroad, underpaid workers from abroad. (not to mention misogynistic legislation!) The great thing about the Trump admin is that at least some of the dis.may lack vision. (Forget immigration , think about land use or abuse. Lots of that going on.) Google of Plutocrats or wannabees. Their ideas haven't changed since forever" everything is for sale-- health, happiness, immortality -- so long as one has the $$. OTOH there are limits for Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and as we shall see Mr. Trump.

  12. @RAD61 how insightfully diagnostic of today's political condition. Galbraith was indeed prophetic.

  13. Goldwater to Nixon to Reagan to Gingrich to George W Bush to McConnell to Trump. The through-line has been more or less straight and the destruction of the Party of Lincoln is complete.

  14. @Rick That makes Eisenhower the last true Lincoln-Republican. Ummm....hmmm....probably true. Didn't he warn us about the, Military Industrial Complex? "Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Eisenhower's farewell speech. If he were running today, I would vote for Ike, even though I am a Yellow Dog Democrat.

  15. @Rick - The Republican Senator who heads the Homeland Security Committee, declaring to Chuck Todd on Sunday that he doesn't believe our FBI or CIA, is yet more validation.

  16. @Parsley Of course, with 91% marginal federal income tax rates on the wealthy, reasonable corporate federal income tax rates and his warning about the military industrial complex, Eisenhower seems wonderful compared to today's Republicans. Nixon seems wonderful compared to today's Republicans. But I would research history a bit more on Eisenhower before getting all misty eyed. There were plenty of problems there also.

  17. Yes, re: 'My Great and Unmatched Wisdom' 45* you would surely think any and all centrists have been disabused about what has happened to their tribe. But since 'Extremely Stable Genius' 45* has been nakedly revealed to everyone from his escalator descent in 2015, regularly channeling his magnificent tailor who flatters him nonstop about his (non-existent) new clothes giving him an 'absolute right', and giving 45* the ultimate 'stay out of jail card', ad nauseum, anything's possible. After all, who is going to tell Moscow Mitch, who's busily raising funds in Ky. from campaign ads promising he will stop a Senate impeachment conviction of 'Individual-1' 45*? When it comes to GOP'ers and their radicalism, you are exactly correct about where it leads - take it from a native of the state where Rick Perry appointed over 10,000 officials.

  18. @R. Law We need to remember why George Washington was considered the one indispensable man in the American Revolutionary War. He was absolutely determined to win despite the odds seeming to be against the Americans, and his confidence helped others to keep fighting. Trump had no business running for president; He has firmly cemented his place as worst American president ever. We citizens must organize ourselves in getting out the vote, contributing to credible candidates, and if need be, marching to Washington (which did have an effect in the 1960s). We must not sit around passively waiting for Trump to destroy democracy in the US.

  19. Very insightful and strong argument. I'd counter and contend that the rise of the right is a reaction to the overreach of the left through the seventies- both in centralization of government power and chaos of the counter culture and stuff like that. The radical left almost destroyed us in the sixties- now it's the radical right's turn

  20. What exactly are you saying that the radical left did in the 60s. Seems to me it was fringe and with no unlike the right now.

  21. @H The radical left was just a response to the Vietnam war that was killing 50,000 American kids for only the greed of the military industrial complex and the political system that supported it. The radical left did not almost destroy America. They saved it.

  22. @John Pultz that radical left was protesting an illegal and immoral war in Vietnam, fighting for civil rights, demanding accountability from America’s corporate citizens, fighting for issues related to the environment, and battling the corruption of the Nixon Administration. These and many more issues were the rally cry of the left and its evident to me they were on the right side of history.

  23. I admire your optimism but I don't see the transformation you predict. I am now of the opinion that the GOP plans to take its place within the autocracy.

  24. As someone who grew up in a right-wing family, I saw this coming a long time ago. In the sixties and seventies, my father was a member of the John Birch Society--a forerunner to the much larger paranoid conspiracy theorists of the deep state. In my experience, no amount of empathetic listening and calm conversation will influence the beliefs of the self-deluded, fanatical right. There are a lot of things we can do to resist the anti-democratic Republican Party, but pretending they are anything but authoritarian in nature is not one of them.

  25. @David Yes, and one thing is to donate to liberal candidates. The rightwing PACs have been pouring money into the elections. Liberals need to counter that. One way to do that efficiently is to donate to the candidates in close races. That's where our money will make the biggest difference.

  26. @David Yes, my parents were authoritarians, cruel in theory and practice. My mother possessed John Birch literature in the 1960s. My father had it was said attended Communist Party meetings in the 1940s, but by the 1960s, he was an intransigent right-winger.

  27. @David Thank you. I have a similar background - some of my early memories are of accompanying my father to the John Birch bookstore where he volunteered - and he was a Bircher to the day he died. No logical discussion would move him in his beliefs. It took years for me to properly think things through, but I did eventually come to the conclusion that these people were just paranoid believers in conspiracy theories.

  28. Centrists think that donald trump has not committed enough bad behavior. They are waiting for the apocalypse. Would they not accept that one is right around the corner, as Greta Thunberg so aptly explained to a roomful of dumbstruck adults?

  29. Well, Mr. Krugman, I am a centrist (in my mind, which is all that matters!) and you have finally offended me. I do not think Trump is a harmless aberration. I was exquisitely aware after Bush II invaded Iraq that we had been lied to about WMD. I have loathed Karl Rove since before I knew he existed. I have been hoping for a reasonable alternative in the next election, but the party with whom I have voted for the last 20 years is lurching left. I won't vote for a delusional criminal, but I also won't vote for a socialist. The way things are going it appears I may have to find a third party to give my meaningless money and vote to.

  30. @Robert If you want to actually be able to vote in future elections, I heartily recommend voting straight Blue in 2020.

  31. @Robert I wonder where you get socalism from the democrats running. I can't find any. I see efforts to bring taxes back to where they were in the 1980s, efforts to extend health care to all citizens and efforts to curb pollution and unrestricted gun sales. Taxes are, well taxes. Health insurance is, well, insurance. Regulations on markets or pollution are well, regulations. I don't see any person running that advocates government ownership of the means of production. I see a lot of proposed reforms in regulations and markets to make our society and business climate healthier, less dependent on pollution, corruption, cronyism, and monopoly.

  32. @Robert As an anti-communist, growing up in a communist country in central Europe, I can assure you that this country will never be communist. It is impossible, I know how communism works. However it may become a fascist country quite easily. How you define “socialism” is the matter here. If health care for all Americans is socialism, majority of Americans are for it. If free college tuition is socialism, most Americans are for it, and country would greatly benefit. If more regulations for cleaner water and air is socialism, most Americans are for it. If higher taxes on multimillionaires are enacted to pay for all that and are socialism, most Americans are for it. The worst thing I ever heard about socialism by democrats is social democracy akin to Denmark. Is it really that scary? Of course, with our own cultural circumstances, that are different from Denmark, the final form our “reformed” system would be negotiated down to essential changes. Unless, of course, Senate remains under GOP control and we will accomplish nothing and slowly limp toward another crisis, hopefully not outright fascism.

  33. I understand the political necessity to make compromises if the Democrats want to win next year, but at this point, making a compromise is like shaking hands with the devil.

  34. This problem is much broader than just the overreaching Republican party. The more serious problem is that nearly half of our citizens - Trump voters - want an authoritarian regime where they, as whites, are considered the only "real" Americans. Trump voters are thrilled that for the first time since WWII, we have internment camps on our soil - caging hundreds of Hispanic children who have broken no laws. Trump voters have, in a few short years, destroyed a thriving if far from perfect democracy, and replaced with a racist, bigoted Republic of Gilead. This is the America they want. They are absolutely thrilled with what this country has become in the past three years. Now, I'm told that some 55% of us are sickened by Trump's regime - his caging infants, threatening journalists, continuing to spew his ugly racial epithets - and we insist this is not "who we are". But for those of you who believe next year's election will "save us", think again. Any "president" who would shove young children into internment camps and would sell out his own country for his own political gain would have no qualms about manufacturing a "national emergency", declaring martial law, and cancelling elections. And Trump's voters will love him all the more. After all, they say they would rather be Russians than Democrats. Turns out they mean it. The fact is, Trump is counting on our silence. Our appeasement of his base. He knows we won't fight back. And he is right.

  35. @Nicholas Rush It may be that opposition to the reign of Trump and the GOP will increase if people can see that he and his colleagues have done nothing good for the country, and much to embarrass and degrade its reputation. The Trump-GOP has decreased any type of investment in education, environment, health, and preparing for the changes in jobs that will increase as more work is done digitally and by robots. The GOP and Trump have done nothing to help America compete globally in the 21st century. They seem to think it is still 1955, and they overlook the dynamic nature of capitalism that makes employment and the economy likely to continue to change and evolve. If the GOP is not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem.

  36. @Bonnie How will the opposition increase, if after two and a half years of bad policies, lies, and near-criminal behavior, the fraudster-in-chief still has his followers mesmerized, and the so called "independents" missing in action? I don't want to be so pessimistic, but the mere fact that Americans are not joining the impeachment movement in great numbers does not provide me with a lot of optimism, especially when I remember how the crowds were burgeoning with "impeach Nixon".

  37. @Bonnie Oh, they know full well it is not 1955, because in 1955 we had an progressive federal income tax system where large corporations paid reasonable taxes and the wealthiest faced a 90+% marginal tax rate.

  38. Maybe some people are going to stop saying, "Hey, everybody does it, politics is a dirty business." A news story quoting presidential chiefs of staff over the last 40 years said none of the presidents have ever sought, or accepted, foreign interference in domestic politics.

  39. Dr. Krugman, where are these “centrists” of whom you speak? I cannot identify them. I have seen none since, oh, Tip O’Neill, a politician to his fingertips who could, nevertheless walk arm-in-arm with a Ronald Reagan and not hear his Democrats on The Hill wail and gnash their teeth. Speaker O’Neil’s epitaph reads, “All Politics Is Local,” the obvious meaning being that it’s people who are the root of politics and when they speak, their voices are heard and respected. Newt Gingrich changed all that; tossed out the baby with the bath water. Gingrich is the mid-point of the arc between Barry Goldwater and Donald Trump. The early 1960’s marks the watershed in the Republican Party from Dwight Eisenhower to something more sinister and menacing: a grab at the national story in which there are rightful winners, those to be lauded and celebrated for their exceptionalism, and those losers who represent a blemish upon the visage of an America that never was except in the popular imagination. It roared: “We are right and everyone else is wrong.” The party divided the nation into enemies across a racial, political and business divide. There could be no comity. The GOP stood aggressively hard against every progress for marginalized groups. Every Republican president since Nixon was worn the same clothing, only now, the current president wears his slimy rags proudly and is applauded lustily by a Republican Senate so untethered from decency it takes the breath away. We have no center.

  40. @Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18 I am sure that many Americans are appalled by both parties. The number of independents has been growing. Sane, decent people may not be in control in DC but I doubt there are none left in the population.

  41. @John, "Independents" and "Centrists" don't become candidates and stand for election. They sit and quibble 'til someone else acts and then they kvetch. "Centrism" and "Independentism" are the death of the politics that can lead to govt OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people.

  42. @Red Sox, ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18, I'm pretty sure he's talking to David Brooks (again).

  43. Biden brings to mind Yeats famous line. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The center cannot hold.

  44. @baseball55 The point is that the center is now only a mask for those who refuse to accept that the GOP is now actively hostile to democracy and the US Constitution. Yeats wrote his poem in 1919, after WWI had ended, a war where there really were no good guys vs bad guys. That is not the case today. The best- Elizabeth Warren of them -do have great conviction and passionate intensity that Trump's authoritarian rule must end and US democracy must prevail and flourish. This is not a time to bemoan the state of affairs but to change it.

  45. Spot-on, as ever. Although it's important to note that the blindness of the "centrists" in American politics is that they're functional conservative, and not actually representative of an authentic center or moderate position. That's likely what helps keep them from seeing how the GOP has devolved over the decades. For them to be authentically centrist, they'd have to take several very large steps leftward ideologically.

  46. I was a Democrat in my younger years. I was a Raegan Republican for a while. I've been an Independent for longer than I can remember. I believe both Partys are losing active membership and I think both major Partys are doomed, since they are merely fund raising schemes to finance candidates chosen by elites and Big Donors. It's good to see Bernie raising money from small donors, and Mayor Pete "hanging in" during the debate season. I'll choose a candidate to support after more of the dust has settled. It's really a shame that we're involved in constant wars and constant political campaigning, our attention, time and treasure could be better spent.

  47. @KOOLTOZE Nothing personal, but this false equivalency is exactly the problem that Dr. Krugman is talking about. The Democrats are a normal political party. They have their problems, sure. They also have a basic party platform and room for people to have beliefs and policy ideas to either side. The Republicans, however, oppose the basic tenets that a functioning republic is based on: allowing access to voting, everyone paying their share for our shared resources, providing services for those in need, and so on. So, if you support our Constitutional democratic republic, you probably want to stop considering the Republicans a viable party, because they haven't agreed with you since Reagan was President (and probably before). Remember the Heritage Foundation? What they wanted has come true.

  48. @KOOLTOZE I suppose it is too bad that the great majority of us do not have your innate ability to look into the very souls of persons to divine their true intent.

  49. @mattjr "...refusal to accept facts at odds with its prejudices has long been a major source of political dysfunction."

  50. Dear Paul, Your analysis is spot on. The face of today’s Republican Party are the fringe players like McCarthy, Jordan, Graham and McConnell. They will say and do anything to hold onto power and take direction from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity and Fox. It’s pretty simple when you consider their deplorable voting base. Our stable genius #45 is going to self destruct and it’s not going to be pretty. Stand by, we are not living in normal times. However, he must be impeached because we are a country where laws matter and flaunting power will not be tolerated. America deserves better and I’m predicting a tsunami of blue in 2020 to help put our country back on track and fix the damage done both internally and our reputation around the world.

  51. It's long overdue. "Moderate" as a term to describe a political faction is as inaccurate as "conservative" is. Being an apologist for a status quo that is visibly failing on all fronts is not "moderate", just as being a science-denying far right radical is not "conservative" in any meaningful sense of the word.

  52. @Anthony Flack Being a true centrist in America is the opposite of an apologist for the status quo, which is increasingly dominated, in the two established parties at least, by flame-throwing extremists. Moderates in both parties and like-minded independents need to establish a third party. It is increasingly clear that many Americans are not welcome in the old parties.

  53. @John , Problem: Parties in the US don't work like they do in other countries. To people in the US, "third party" = "third rail" = "don't walk on it."

  54. The Republican Party has been sliding to authoritarianism at least since Nixon with his Southern Strategy and his embrace of the demagoguery of Roger Ailes. They have been disinterested in formulating any concrete policies In the legislature to address the multiple problems of our society. They have been unwilling to work civilly with their political opposition to find the best solutions. Instead they demonize and smear their opponents and seem to choose party loyalty and power over the rule of law, the Constitution, and their oaths of office. With their approach they are destroying the moderation and spirit of cooperation needed for a functioning democracy and worse yet they have poisoned the beliefs of their supporters in the integrity of democratic institutions. This has led to their exploitation of conspiracy theories to stir the passions of their voters. Unfortunately this is the chosen method to attaining power for totalitarian regimes and Fascism. I worry about the Republican Party and their voters who seem to have abandoned the fair play and honesty required for a functioning democracy in which power must be shared and opposing views respected.

  55. In the US, you seem to live in a political dynamic akin to: "If it doesn't go down well on TV, does it really happen." Mueller did not go down well on TV, so it was like it didn't happen. Despite what was in the written report. The shallowness of the process leads me to just one conclusion....the Dems need a strong voice out in front. Pelosi and Schiff are not that. They need someone with charisma and presence to lead the way in public on this..... we know with America, if the front person does not deliver on TV, it will be like it never happened.

  56. @EC "They need [a front person] with charisma and presence to lead the way in public . . " No. The wish for a powerful leader is the essence of authoritarianism and the antithesis of democracy. For a very long time, Americans have withdrawn from participating in civil society to focus on material and personal goals. They lost the idea that collective deliberation over the public good was in itself something good. They came to see governing as tedious, and belonging to boring eggheads and wonks. And then when national and international crises arose, as they typically do, they wished for a charismatic strongman to grasp control of the levers and set things right, so that they could go about their lives. This is at least as true on the left as on the right. People get the government they deserve. The glam bolsheviks were more than happy to leave the organs of government to Stalin while they penned off tract after tract. Finally Stalin was in a position to consign them all to the dustbin with just one flourish of his pen. Today the NBA sold out America for a bowl of kung pao chicken. Last one out, please turn off the lights.

  57. @Joyboy Since when did having charisma have to equal being an authoritarian?

  58. You are so right. I've said "tv is the most powerful drug" for many years now. And scripted "reality tv" has blurred the line between real and fake even further. Our Reality President acts out tv performances for his tv audience on Fixxed Snooze, and watches his reviews the next day in real time. His non-golfing days are consumed by all-morning hair, makeup, and bronzing routines, short mtgs in afternoons, then marathon addicted Twitter rampages. Dems need to construct must-see tv sessions of "The Impeachment Show," with classic Prosecutors like Barry Baritone the high-paid corporate trial dog and a few sharp legislators like Senators Whitehouse, Murphy, and Harris. Make the committee bicammeral like the Special Select Watergate Committee. Use Hollywood talent to make the hearings must-see tv to capture the bored, jaded audience. We can DO THIS!

  59. This voyage of truly losing the importance of "the people's vote", is far from finished. After WWII, the wealthy were taxed at 70%. They didn't seem to mind. They have a responsibility towards their workers, towards the country which allowed them to attain this status. To have a "civilized" society. NRA was huntsman like, now it is mafia like. Nixon voted for the EPA in fear of losing "the people's vote". With Nixon came Sen Powell & his Memo of '72, giving politicians steps on how to gain, consolidate with corporations/businesses. THIS is the origin of losing our national voice. Nixon also allowed healthcare/hospitals/physicians to become "for profit". I know, I graduated nursing school in '78. I remember vividly watching, at age 11-12, the people's protests. No one was forcibly removed: freedom of speech right? I remember the issues. The GOP was against all of them. I knew this at that young age. No one gave a thought to the evangelicals, still simmering underneath our nation's earth, their dearest wish to destroy our Constitution. The Powell Memo gave great power- we are still seeing it destroy. Reagan cut that wealthy tax, all the way from 70% to 28%. Carter had created a commission on mental health care. Reagan killed it. It's been a road from Nixon towards GOP extremism. They've pulled so far right, the Democrats are almost right of center. Enough pretending like the parties are the same. Enough not working together for the nation's success.

  60. @Stephan The GOP has become very comfortable with starting wars and tax cuts at the same time, resulting in huge deficits that ordinary taxpayers will have to pay for. They seem fine with ignoring parts of the Constitution, like separation of Church and State. They no longer uphold what used to be called conservative principles. Now they're all about their own careers and serving their real constituency - the ultra rich.

  61. @Bonnie Exactly! I do not believe they have changed at their core. We are just seeing outright their agenda, as has been seen in history. My father-in-law fought both arena's in WWII. He has passed; I am glad he is not seeing this travesty towards our Allies, the UN, so many good things that came out of this (still grifted during the war by some of the political dynasties- laundering money, building munitions plants for the Germans) We are a huge nation, diversity is proven in biology to strengthen the human. Time is NOW to rid of evangelical aversion to science and truth. I often wonder, if they want to destroy our Constitution, and refute new medical research: why on earth do they go to physician's? This faux OK with church and state mixing, is obscene.

  62. "the impeachment of Donald Trump has gone from implausibility to near certainty ,,, Conviction in the Senate remains a long shot" But this is a time for both sensible Democrats & Republicans to negotiate for coming to a compromise: Instead of impeaching president Trump Censure him for all the presidential malfeasance he has undertaken so far, provided he agrees not to run again. Other Republicans can compete in the Primary for the winner to run against the Democratic nominee. If this can be achieved, Republicans can save face and avoid a permanent bad mark. Democrats and for the country can avoid to see another Trump-term. This may not be the best outcome but a reasonable compromise. Andrew Jackson was censured in 1834, I think.

  63. @A.G. Why should we be concerned about a permanent bad mark for the GOP? Since Reagan they have clung to the lie that government is always the problem, never the solution. They repudiate the example that FDR left, showing how government could help the country recover from economic disaster. Obama also showed the same thing after the 2008 recession, restoring stability to the economy despite the GOP's relentless efforts to block everything he did. I see no reason to coddle a party like the GOP that does not believe in democracy, except for the rich. Now the GOP supports an incompetent president who is creating economic, diplomatic, and social damage for no legitimate reason. You may not have studied Trump very closely. It is clear that he's much more likely to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue than ever to agree not to run again. He does not have the kind of character to admit any mistakes or failures. He will focus entirely on protecting himself, especially from legal accountability after he leaves the Oval Office. He has lied to the country (with support from the GOP) more often than Bush or Cheney did, and if left to his own devices, could very well start a war at least as catastrophic as Bush's invasion of Iraq.

  64. @A.G. Sounds very reasonable except that Trump would NEVER agree to this compromise

  65. @HJK He would if he were to be convinced that he would be removed from office otherwise. He agreed to everything when he was faced with personal bankruptcy, in late 1980s.

  66. I don't know if I have ever understood who a centrist is. I have no idea what a centrist policy would be on invading Iraq, continuing to reduce the taxes of the very rich, cutting social security and the list goes on. I have the same confusion over Independents. They may not officially belong to any party but they most often vote with same party over and over. I suspect these are more low information voters than anything else. They certainly aren't people involved in the political process. Most of those people belong to a specific party. I do agree that the Republican party lost it's way a long time ago. It did not just start with Trump.

  67. Yes, broadly speaking the Republican Party supports authoritarianism. Although there are still Republican in office who strongly support democracy such as the governor of Maryland. The country is being ripped apart in a struggle between those who support democracy and those who support authoritarianism. Many of the latter are white supremacist nationalists like Trump. That being said there is still some legislation that both parties can work together. But there is no way they can work together on the basic direction that the US should take. I think most Democrats realize that they are in a struggle to save democracy as we have known it.

  68. I have given up on the country I used to know. I think we will be lucky if Trump ever leaves office. The Party envies its communist counterparts in China and Russia where they adopt their own truth, the apparatus of power works only at the Party’s behest, and law is optional for the oligarchy and party officials. We are almost there, and the impeachment is likely to leave the Party in a more consolidated position when we all realize there is nobody to enforce any court order or any political result the Republicans don’t agree with. They have already determined that impeachment is a coup de tat. No, this will not end soon.

  69. Yep. Thanks again Paul. Strange days indeed. It's only recently been reported, too, that earlier this year, senior figures in not-long-past supposedly centre-right "Liberal" Australian federal governments, did not feel disinclined to speak at an anti-immigration conference in "illiberal" Hungary. So-called "conservatives" of the world unite? Nothing to worry about - hey centrists?

  70. I get it Paul, you hope, as I do, that the centrists are finally awake/aware of how bad it is, and how close to the edge we all are. I hope we’re right.

  71. Today it seems like breaking a few rules but make no mistake this is about democracy and the rule of law. If people don't obey the law now why should anyone obey the law in the future, even you and me. If they refuse to honor subpoenas now why should anyone honor them in the future, anyone. If they break the law today and the SC says it's OK, then why not let New York break the law tomorrow, and then Texas and then who knows? If we don't follow the constitution there is no country. If elected officials don't follow the rules why waste time on taking an oath of office? Republicans think it's about a few crumbs but it is about democracy and having a honest, fair and free country, plain and simple. It is not a joke or a soundbite, and it's here now.

  72. Between the GOP, moderates/centrists and those that don't vote the vast majority of US electorate opposes being decent human beings. They are a bit more like Trump than not, especially with respect the childish whining and self pity. They just can't find a way to help anyone but themselves.

  73. @Chris , More like "They just can't find anyone who'll put them on their way to helping themselves and no one else. You're right. It's childish whining, self-pity and egotism.

  74. At heart this is about owners of capital vs. rest of us. The owners know that there is no mass market for cutting their taxes and reducing regs on their businesses so their take goes up. So they stoke racial animus, feed conspiracy theories, and play dirty by funding gerrymandering, voter suppression, and stacking the court. You may also have noted that the owners of outrage media (Murdoch, Limbaugh, Sinclair, etc) are all in the .1%. Outrage is pretty good business and it delivers the desired results. The GOP is, and has been, their party and Trump is one of them. Until we the people take back our country we can only expect more of the same.....

  75. @jon Racism, sexism, homophobia....all just different forms of capitalist crowd control.

  76. NB: the usual suspects you properly call out are all white as the driven snow.

  77. Centrist and moderate are two words that belong in the dustbin. Not there anymore. We have transcended balance. Time to get ready for the tidal wave that sweeps the experiment into the sea.

  78. Are you saying that there is no longer room in the Democratic Party for moderates? The polls even today show that Biden far outperforms Warren and Sanders in critical states by between 10 and 30 points. If there is no longer room in the Democratic Party for those who value decency, civility, support for civil rights and the environment, and for improvement of the ACA instead of destroying the entire private insurance industry, then it isn't only the Republican Party that has become radicalized. Personally I am exhausted by the extremist rhetoric and the flying insults from both sides as well as the constant nastiness aimed at politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Trump has eroded basic values. It doesn't mean Democrats have to mimic him and demonize everyone else. If the Democratic Big Tent is shrinking, then it may be time for me to leave my lifelong party and become an Independent.

  79. @SMB I understand the desire for caution in policy, but our health care system costs too much, and covers too little. If we were to take the best ideas from any other western country and apply them here it would be a "radical", and positive change from our current system. It's not extremist to believe that our health care payments should actually go towards health care. On education, no one paid for public college in the 50s, was that so terrible? Imagine how much money would cycle back into the econemy if people weren't paying thousands a year to Sally Mae. It's not radical, or extremist, just good for the middle class, lower classes.

  80. @SMB What is so wonderful about the private health insurance industry?

  81. Stop letting yourself be influenced by Republican media, talking points, and screaming media. Trump and his minions, as is clear to everyone, is a protofascist who wants to be a king, operating the country (poorly) for his own personal gain and that of his sycophants, like the dictatorial world leads he so admires. Even the most “radical leftist” serious politicians on the Democratic scene, even Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, are not more radical than FDR 75 and more years ago. Given their heads, the GOP aims to drag us all back to the Middle Ages socially, and make almost everyone who has to work for a living into a serf.

  82. Your definition of a centrist is very different to my definition of a centrist, which I consider myself to be. In my understanding a centrist is defined in the first instance by their policy preferences, not by their opinion of one party or another. I've long held the same view of the GOP that you describe here, but I consider myself a centrist because I believe that the antidote to the sickness of the GOP is candidates who offer policy prescriptions that can make real progress based on broad appeal. It is not candidates who counter GOP craziness that in reality jives with the wishes of only about 25% of the population, with policy prescriptions that likewise appeal only to another 25% of the population, at the other end of the ideological spectrum. We need to break the spell that's been placed on the other 50% of people who just want sensible government, and decriminalizing illegal immigration, taking away private health insurance, and free college tuition are not going to cut it. That, to me, is what a centrist is. And you and everyone else appalled by the Trump circus from hell had better jump on board or we're headed for another four years of this nightmare.

  83. @Michael Hogan I strongly agree with your definition. Republicans are losing educated voters and suburban women. But moderate Republicans who would consider voting for Biden would never vote for Warren or Sanders who also cannot reach minorities, critical to any Drmocratic coalition.

  84. @Michael Hogan I agree wholeheartedly. For quite some time, there has been no one for this centrist to vote for - I feel disenfranchised. I vote Blue because the Democrats are less repugnant to me than the Republicans - but we really need a re-alignment of the parties. My fantasy - the Republicans split with a sizable portion of the party returning to the center.

  85. @Michael Hogan I do not agree because for me centrism is an empty space and has never produced anything of value. Centrism looks like more of the same, nothing done. We have not have a sensible governing for a long time and almost everything is broken. We just got used to that. Realistically, whether we keep private insurers or not is a minor detail, private doctors and hospitals will stay. Free college tuition is way overdue and is necessary to keep this country competitive. We have around 1 million jobs openings for engineers unfilled. We are heading for the cliff and need more bold structural changes in order to put this country on the right track. Centrism just won’t cut it.

  86. Oh you mean like David Brooks.

  87. @ezra abrams Are you kidding me. Lots of people at the presidential level had brothers/sisters , sons/daughters, fathers/mothers (Nixon, kennedy, carter, clinton, Bush, obama) who were problematic. Of all of those I mentioned only Nixon a problem. Trumps children (and in-laws) are yards wide of Trump's collection of neer-do-wells. It's hard to throw your own child under the bus. Joe's son is problematic but Joe isn't because of his son.

  88. @ezra abrams C'mon, Ezra, Trump is the poster boy (man/child) of sleaze. Yesterday I had a man in our house to do some repairs. He lived in NY for decades. He said to me, "We who work as laborers in NYC hated Trump. He cheated all of us. What a sleaze!" I hope you watch any news cast other than Fox--- they've been a propaganda machine now for decades. Hope you try any of the many other (factual) newscast choices.

  89. @ezra abrams Nothing wrong with Jared and Ivanka though. Right? I bet they move to Israel so they won't be extradited to face criminal charges in the US.

  90. I don't agree. Would we prefer if Trump resigned and we could start a new chapter? Sure. Would we be happy with a Mitt Romney GOP establishment type candidate? Of course, that would be terrific. But remember what Krugman and the liberal punditry said about Romney: I for one believe in American exceptionalism and firmly believe one of the explanations is the conservative streak in our politics--not to argue we need to push further to the right from what we've seen in the modern era, but that the center of American politics is balanced by a vibrant conservatism. A happy medium if you will. Now if we could only get some bipartisan legislation done...

  91. @Mmm I have no idea what conservatism is. I do understand words conservatives say, but then they do something completely different. Fiscal responsibility is just one glaring example. Now I do not take any conservative seriously.

  92. @Mmm Maybe if Moscow Mitch would actually bring legislation passed in the House to the floor of the Senate, we might be able to get "some bipartisan legislation done..."

  93. @Mmm What do you mean "conservatism?" Fiscal responsibility, social and personal responsibility, government out of personal lives (and choices), prudent use of military resources and alliances, support for the Constitution? Any of those look familiar? I don't see any of those reflected in the conservatism of today. Sorry.

  94. The problem with centrists is that they define themselves politically with a bad metaphor, staking out a “moderate” between two “extremes,” a “center” between two sides, “left” and “right.” But in my experience they never seem to question the framing, the initial definition of the extremes; they tend to ignore historical or global context, taking the present American scene as a given. There doesn’t seem to be, for instance, a genuine “left” in this country, not according to what I understand as left in other countries and throughout history. What could it possibly mean to be a “centrist” in a thoroughly right wing country like the US?

  95. @Kryztoffer Standing from the outside looking in, I always find it absolutely equally sad and hilarious that Americans can claim to even have a left and right. As far as I can determine, many of the so called extreme left ideas and policies of the Democrats are mainstream in pretty much every single western developed nation in the world. Your right wing, however, is completely off the charts and is truly without equal. Again, from the outside looking in, it truly boggles the mind how so many Americans can vote so comprehensively against their own self interest so frequently. Unfortunately, it would not be as much of a problem if American internal squabbles have such an outsized effect on the rest of the world.

  96. @Jeff , From my outside perspective, you're totally right. This is why, except for the other 2 "unitary superpowers," Russia and China, all other countries are more and more looking for ways to keep the US, as well as the other two, at arm's length. Their internal squabbles make messes for everyone.

  97. @Kryztoffer What does it mean to be a centrist in a right wing country? It means that if the right wing goes further right, centrists will follow so as to stay "moderate" and "in the middle of two extremes". It means being complicit in evil while claiming to neutrality and pragmatism. This is why, historically, liberals have sided with fascists.

  98. The Party of Trump (formerly the GOP) is a theocracy with support from the corporatists and the Second Amendment fanatics. They cannot be reasoned with. They are a minority but thanks to the Electoral College, the small state advantage in the Senate, and gerrymandering they have enough power to push their agenda and control the judiciary for at least a generation. The irony is that the only way to counter this on the right is for the Democrats to move to the left and when they get power to play the same way, such as packing the Court. The old days are gone and they aren’t coming back.

  99. Whoa, I think you need some moderation, Dr. Krugman. Not about the direction of the tip of the spear of the Republican Party and its refusal of democratic principles, but about Joe Biden. Looking at the comments below, I see it is now open season on the Biden family. This is wrong. Biden knows all about today's Republican Party, he was in the executive for eight long years with Addison Mitchell McConnell working overtime to assure that the Obama administration was "a failure" — which it wasn't, but not the success it might have been with a bit of bipartisanship. I think that what Biden is suggesting is that within that obstructive and obnoxious party there are human beings, and that it is necessary to reach out to them, to work with them, to attempt to include them, positively, in their own governance. He is trying not to make the mistake of the Republican Party. Self-rule does not mean disenfranchising everyone but oneself or one's party, it means ruling collectively without authoritarianism. It requires finding the people that comprise the party and dealing with them human-to-human, disarming everyone of ideological weaponry and getting down to the true business of the nation without lies or hatred. It isn't enough to reject hatred, one must make an effort to allow love to exist. That is what Joe Biden is trying to say, not to credit the insanity of Trumpism with reasonableness.

  100. @Soquelly Well said. I couldn't agree more!

  101. @Soquelly Obama reached out to Republicans repeatedly. How did the Republicans respond to Obama's efforts for civility and compromise? "YOU LIE!," bad faith, obstruction and disrespect - like inviting Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in 2015 without telling Obama about it beforehand.

  102. @fast/furious So do not do as the Republicans have done. That behavior yielded Trump, a man who is destroying the nation's institutions. Bad behavior invites more bad behavior, but that just introduces an infernal cycle of degeneration. Try wisdom for a change.

  103. There were once respectable conservatives- they were wrong, but not evil and acted out of real conviction. Then there is today's variety that is neither fiscally conservative or acting based upon anything that is provably true. You cannot reduce deficits by cutting taxes and increasing spending at the same time. Social Security is not a "Ponzi scheme"- it is an insurance system funded by premiums collected as taxes and does not add to the deficit or debt. Climate change is not a hoax and there was no conspiracy to doctor the findings, There is no such thing as clean coal or safe and cost-effective nuclear power.

  104. I'll grant you that nuclear power is more expensive per kWh than fossil fuels. But it's safety record is the best of any electrify generating technology. Claiming otherwise is just as made up as whatever fiction the GOP is peddling this week.

  105. @ZB The issues with safety on nuclear is more than just the record - it is the risk. Much higher safety risk than any other form of energy, and very long lasting including the waster. Imagine what the cumulative affects of lot of nuclear waste years from now

  106. @Adrien I studied nuclear engineering in college and reviewed a lot of case studies. The issue is perception. Probabilistic risk assesment describes risk as probability * consequence. In the case of a nuclear accident the probability is low but the consequence is high. People simply only consider consequence, not the frequency of events. So yes, nuclear power accidents can be devastating, but they're incredibly uncommon, in fact I'm sure most folks can name the top 3 (three mile island, chernobyl, fukushima) because there are so few in the historical record. As far as waste in concerned, it can be deposited in deep ocean and subducted under the earths crust, or buried deep underground. The problem there are NIMBYs, not any difficulty in imagining a solution. In my experience, I've never heard a single one of these anti-fission talking points from anyone with a hard science background and I think that's telling.

  107. I have argued the GOP now consists of the legitimately aggrieved. Remained faithful to the GOP rewarded with the tax shaft, two optional wars and a great depression. The depression left many with foreclosures, repossessions, job loss, health care unaffordability, credit destroyed, dignity gone, with bailouts and bonuses for those responsible. The final straw traditional republican failures led to the election of a black president. Cultural shift unwelcomed by many. Trump did not create he capitalized on the disaffection. Ryan racing not sprinting for the exit a clear sign standard GOP policy no longer sells to the aggrieved. No leaders on the near or far horizon, not shining stars waiting off stage to restore order and glory to the GOP. Autopsy officially dead. The curious issue concerns how to repudiate Trump, a recovery absolute without offending his flock? A schism lies ahead close to unavoidable. Enter Reverend Pence to ignite .....

  108. I see where the US is today as at the culmination of a 50+ year backlash against the domestic accomplishments of LBJ--the civil rights act, the voting rights act, the fair housing act, the immigration act of 1965 which prohibited discrimination in legal immigration on the basis of race, religion or country of origin, Headstart, Foodstamps, etc. Obama's election was the tipping of this backlash. Trump is the result. It is no coincidence that when Trump was in college, LBJ was the president.

  109. @James Ricciardi , And, perhaps more importantly, JFK had just been president.

  110. @Harold (Mexico) Hello Harold. I truly do not understand your comment. Please elucidate.

  111. "But my sense, although it’s impossible to quantify, is that the events of the past several weeks have finally broken through the wall of centrist denial." That's good. Denial is an unhealthy defense mechanism. Having said that, what in the world is Krugman talking about? Is this airy speculation on his part? Besides Biden, who else? If centrists are 'finally coming around," where and in what way? Good news is usually good but it's even better if connected with somethings tangible.

  112. @blgreenie , "Not Biden" is good advice. It should be accepted. Non-Biden-ness abounds and should be preferred. Which of the non-Biden candidates has the best chances of winning is the second part of the topic. I'm sure Dr Krugman has thoughts on that part, too.

  113. @blgreenie — He gets a limited number of words for each column. Biden was a sufficient example to start with. — Brian

  114. Since FDR, a central goal of the GOP has been to destroy the Reforms of the New Deal and Great Society. They cannot do so democratically. Thus, they seek so by autocratic means including packing the courts. To preserve our Democracy, today’s Republican Party must be destroyed.

  115. @Pat Choate You are right. I have never felt that the old G.O.P. conservative party had a natural majority. They have found it necessary to build a majority coalition based on strong views of average Americans on religion. Remember prayer in the schools, prayer breakfasts, and that crazy idea that LBJ did away with the tax exemption for churches that became involved as political advocates; right to life, right to bear arms, and the big one, integration of public schools and busing. The old G.O.P. mantra of free enterprise, and small government, and pragmatism became buried by these side issues. Amazingly, the evolved G.O.P. have sold the notion that a Tax Cut for the very rich will benefit everyone through some sort of trickle down multiplier.

  116. @Pat Choate of the few commenters here who actually gets it. Yes, the trumpublican party wants to destroy democracy and the constitution. We can't have a functioning country with Trump and his base who don't believe in democracy, truth, justice, or the rule of law. The USA is not big enough for both sets of ideas. Democracy vs Dictatorship. One will prevail. Which one do YOU want?

  117. @Pat Choate Yo! You've nailed it!

  118. Well, a long trip begins with a single step. Paul is coming around to the view that the GOP is not just an assembly of thoughtful but misguided souls. But he has not taken the final realization that the GOP is an assembly of vassals doing only what their billionaire masters approve. No thinking, no weighing, no facts, just doing their bidding. Period. The next step is to drag this bilious billionaire cabal out in the open and put it in a blinding light.

  119. The problem with so-called centrism is that it is not so much a philosophy as a disinclination to take sides, and as a result, it is not actually tethered to anything. It is just a temperamental disposition to seek the midpoint of any controversy, as if the truth were always to be found "somewhere in between", like a geometry problem. As a result, it is entirely susceptible to being dragged in one direction, which has been the net effect of decades of relentless radicalization on the right wing. When I was young, the John Birch Society represented the lunatic fringe, not really part of the American political spectrum at all, but way off the chart someplace. Now their successors define exactly what it means to be a Republican. The same effect results in Elizabeth Warren being characterized as a dangerous radical, when she is really just an unapologetic New Deal Democrat. There is no center between the two parties right now, just a gap filled with people who can not come to grips with what the Republican Party and its wealthy owners actually have in mind.

  120. @Bill Levine No, centrism is the realization that neither party is right about everything. It's not complicated.

  121. @Bill Levine Bill, your first paragraph in particular is so right on I'd like to tattoo it to my frontal lobe. Sadly, I see something of myself in that quote. Perhaps there is hope in recognizing the truth of your statement.

  122. @Bill Levine Exactly. Most--not all, but most--of the small "middle of the road" crowd is that way because they simply don't give a rodent's behind about most of what is being argued about. They are disinclined to debate and to invest too much mental capital in forming positions--they prefer the low information, low commitment route, except when something affects them personally--and all too frequently not even then. I'd like to remind them that Jim Hightower once said ain't nothing in the middle of the road 'cept yellow lines and dead armadillos--but I doubt that sentiment resonates with most of them.

  123. "My sense . . . impossible to quantify", meaning Mr. Krugman's hope without evidence that the center is shifting left. Democrats live in a fantasy world in which they cannot, or as they think, do not need to, modify their extreme left agenda to win elections. It's the job of the voters, whole sections of the voter base, to move left to accommodate the needs of the hidebound Dems. They also think the rules should be changed to help them win without voter-attracting ideological compromise; the Electoral College should be scrapped, the Supreme Court packed, the Senate and House reapportioned to help them win. What they can't think, or won't accept, is that their political agenda is too far left for most Americans. They could easily win in 2020 if they could just move more to the center, but no, they demand that the center move left to them! Mr. Krugman hopes he sees this happening.

  124. @Ronald B. Duke I hope to see it happen too. The rest of the world is already there with health care for all, free universities, free quality childcare, (all paid for by a reasonable taxation system that doesn't favor the rich at the expense of the poor), sensible gun regulations, etc., and their populations are much better off.

  125. Most American families would benefit from Medicare for All and free college education. The cost of for profit health care and high interest student loans are crippling American families and dampening the economy.

  126. You are the centrist he is talking about. The call is coming from inside the house!

  127. While Republicans are screaming all sorts of things to push back against Trump's impeachment, they are forgetting their own recent history, that of planning to impeach Obama, and saying it was justified, and the purely political impeachment of Bill Clinton in the '90s. There was a strong movement to impeach Obama throughout his first term. It was not merely "rumblings of mutiny" but an actual plan. Then, Republicans realized belatedly that it would backfire and they resorted to spreading rumors and claiming Obama was acting illegally. Obama was called a lawless president, a man trying to become a dictator. They went wild with the idea that he wouldn't leave office at the end of his term. (In fact, Obama and his wife Michele were eagerly looking forward to the end of the tumult, the glare of constant attention. "I can make my grilled cheese," she told an interviewer, meaning she wouldn't miss the constant personal service at the White House.) Rumors and lies were used to undermine Obama's authority as president. He wasn't born in America. He was not Christian but Muslim (something many STILL believe). An ordinary, scheduled military training exercise in Texas was a PLOT, the beginning of an effort to allow him to stay in office. Obamacare required a computer chip to be implanted in enrollees, they claimed. The goal was to defeat Obama while still in office. There is no comparison to what Trump has done and is doing. Obama issuing executive orders? Wearing a tan suit?

  128. I actually know of a local minister that opined that Obama was the antithesis.

  129. @terry I have heard that someone called Obama the anti-Christ, a prophecy of the Christian Bible that he supposedly embodied. This kind of thing is really, really bad. Wild ideas and made up junk get out there and it is all but impossible to counteract them.

  130. New definitions of plain old English words: President Trump’s definition of TREASON: not sufficiently supportive of Trump in all his hideous manifestations. Unlike the antique meaning, it has nothing to do with quaint notions of betrayal of country or support or aid to the nation’s enemies. It’s a somewhat flexible term that, according to Trump’s whim, could mean opposition to Trump, or could mean inadequate support of Trump, or anything that might get in Trump’s way, or even statements of plain facts Trump does not sanction. The preferred penalty, though seldom justly applied these days, is execution, preferably by firing squad, on live TV, during prime time. The GOP’s revised and improved definition of HOAX is anything that could be characterized as not conforming to the Party line, or more broadly construed as bad for the interests of big business, especially in the extractive segments. Legally, it implies a lack of culpability for decisions that only an infinitesimal handful of people are empowered to make, or more generally, anything that might cost money that could otherwise be leveraged to increase shareholder value and quarterly performance bonuses.

  131. @Pottree Your sarcasm splendidly underscores the dangerous fantasy Trump concocts. I hate to suggest that Trump may be brilliant and the Repubs are the dull tools. Democrats and Republicans come to your senses.

  132. Krugman is right. And this is why Joe Biden has no business being president. Biden's insistence that there are still Republicans he can work with and that things will revert to "normal" once Trump is gone is a fantasy. Biden believes those things because he's engulfed in nostalgia for the collegiality that existed when he entered the Senate in 1973 - back in the Stone Age - when there was some cross-party compromise and the Senators - all old white men of similar backgrounds and prejudices who accommodated each other - had pretty good interpersonal relationships. Biden still thinks that's true today - despite the massive evidence of the Republican Senate's attempt to block any legacy - or re-election - of Barack Obama. Joe Biden sees what he wants to see because he's stuck in the past. It's dangerous. The G.O.P. Biden believes in is dead. Biden commented last week about the way Trump is personally attacking him and his son: "I can't believe he is going after my family like this." Really? Wow.

  133. @fast/furious Yeah, Biden is past it and those who are propping him up would do better to let him drift back into his role as retired VP. His most recent debate performance is evidence of his living in the past-- record players? radio? Really!? He is like a character from "Gone With the Wind" whose way of life is gone, but he just hasn't realized it yet. Four years ago, coming off being Obama's Veep was his last, best chance and circumstances took him out of that race. Go play with your grandkids, Joe.

  134. @fast/furious Mr. Biden needs to sit down and have a serious chat with Hillary Clinton if he can't believe Republicans would go after his family.

  135. @fast/furious Biden would make the same mistake that Obama did, ie, think that the GOP is reasonable, and cares one whit about our country.

  136. "...but at a basic level he’s the culmination of where his party has been going for decades." So on that basis Paul, I find it difficult, if not impossible. to share your optimism that the "centrists" are finally waking up. Where is the evidence of that? But even if you're right, if the "centrists" woke up, they would find themselves far right of center. That's the problem with supporting the Bidens and Clintons: they're Republicans-In-Dem-Clothing. Under the Clintonista Third Way, the Democratic Party surged to the right, trying to curry favor with the donor class, Wall St., and Corporate America, jettisoning their FDR-rooted support of the working and middle class. It was this abandonment that led to Trump being elected, as those abandoned for decades finally said "Enough! If the System won't work for us, let's overturn it!" The havoc Trump is wreaking is the fulfillment of his promise to "drain the swamp". Tragically, those who believed and voted for him don't understand that swamps are important ecosystems, and draining them causes a lot of problems. It may be that these "centrists" are waking up, and if they support impeachment and removal of King Trump, that would be a good start on making up for all the damage they've caused over the years, but so far I don't see that happening.

  137. @Kingfish52 Well said! On social issues, Clinton/Biden crowd was "ok", but it was Clinton's "Centrist Governors " group ,along with Gingrich's and Norquist's "Contract with America " that greatly contributed to this economic quagmire. Clinton,afterall,repealed Glass/Steagall (and Gingrich); Clinton had the Dotcom bubble to help his economy and his faith in Greenspan was a big mistake.

  138. We so badly need radical change, but we're equally not ready for it. That leaves the middle, but there's another (higher) layer to our political fate- patriotism. There's a big price to pay for devotion to country- not that I have ever gone to war to defend the USA. It's not a place, and it's not the treasury. You love it in spite of its many flaws, because descendants of slaves have demanded that everyone is included in the big tent. Native Americans are a constant reminder of our treaty obligations, and immigrants define our inherent internationalism no matter what some people may think is a second class citizen. The real danger is the gulf between the Wealthy Club cloistered away from the rest of us, and every-day poor slobs who have to get a few more years out of their aging refrigerators. Rich people have an ever-expanding lock on what we're collectively capable of achieving as a society, with a million excuses why this confusing and conflicted mess is "the American Dream" we all want. "Maybe I'll win the lottery, and then it will all be OK". Only it won't- lottery winners are some of the most unhappy people you'll ever meet- weird but true. So if it's not the money that will finally set you free, what is missing from your life? I suggest it's a lack of appreciation for the earth, the sun, and the stars- things no one can buy. Freedom to think, freedom from fear, from oppression, from sickness. The system must insure that we can depend on these freedoms for all time.

  139. 1. The house will vote to impeach. 2. The GOP senate will turn against Trump to save themselves. 3. President Pence will choose Joni Ernst or Lisa Murkowski for veep. 4. The asylum issue will once again save the GOP’s bacon.

  140. @Caveman 007 It's nice to have dreams, even if there is no possibility of their coming true. Sigh.

  141. @Caveman 007 no. GOP will go down. A GN(ew)P will price, hopefully, returning to basic principles.

  142. @Caveman 007 How in the world is Pence going to pick Ernst or Murkowski? Remember, he can't be alone in a room with a woman who's not his wife.

  143. What George Washington feared most in his farewell address may be coming true in the most horrifying way possible - A GOP that puts party ahead of country seeing that its days in power are numbered. Demographic change will make the Republicans an ever shrinking influence, so the response to that is to undermine democracy in order to retain power at any cost, especially with an uneducated base ready to accept authoritarian rule to save their “values.”

  144. @christian Ah, there was no GOP in 1796 when this speech was delivered. There were the Democratic-republicans and the federalists. The GOP is generally thought to have been formed from the whigs (an ani slavery party) around 1824. And Washington was fearful of partisan divide above all— which IS what we see today.

  145. @In the middle The Republican Party was organized in the 1850's, and the Whigs, while they contained antislavery individuals, were not really an antislavery party.

  146. Trump will leave office in just over a year, or perhaps in five as there is no way he's going to get a term limit extension amendment ratified even if he could get it through congress. The question is: Can the GOP hold together the monster it has unleashed without Trump's force of personality at the helm? Many have tried to imitate him, but none can quite match his absolute shamelessness. My feeling is they cannot, and the party will fade away as it probably would have without Trump providing it's extinction outburst.

  147. @Ken Unfortunately, our democracy will die before Republicans "fade away." And, don't discount the idea that Trump will not leave office even in 2026. And certainly, facing extinction, Republicans would find some reason to support that action.

  148. @Ken Kind of like a political "supernova" for the Republicans. One last, huge grab for power before it's gone forever.

  149. @Ken Trump is a poison to our democracy, not an inconvenience to be endured.Freedom needs to be fought for. Your lassitude suggests that you feel no obligation to defend our Republic. Wake up! This is not nor has it been, business as usual.

  150. I wish it were possible for GOP authoritarians and centrists to “come around” and react rationally. I fear this is impossible when considering their total denial of global warming, and research showing that half of the republicans do not believe in evolution. This rejection of science makes our regressive contemporary life similar to living in the past, when the vast majority of people were illiterate and the historical era was labeled as the dark ages.

  151. For those who remember the Reagan and Bush !st years, the Republicans were then in a kind of heaven, which is a major factor in our problems now. They looked forward, they said, to perhaps half a century of Republican rule in which corporate and wealth power would determine all policies, laws and legislation. When Clinton came in, he was taken as an insult to everything they wanted. A bubba from Arkansas of ordinary birth? Impossible! Then came Gingrich with his "take no prisoners" form of politics. First launch investigations, then destroy, which is how Gingrich got to be speaker of the House. Search and destroy culminated in the phony impeachment of Bill Clinton, one they knew they could never win because they didn't have enough substance in their charges to get any votes from Democrats. It was pure politics. It has been all out war on the Democrats, and democracy, ever since. Biden is sadly and grossly out of touch if he thinks there is anything to rescue, anything of value in today's Republican party. They are a bunch of radicals and those who aren't radical are actually worse. There is no point of cooperation or compromise because Republicans aren't interested. Their party is pursuing a dead end politics probably because demographics are running against them and they've run out of promises. Every party, every candidate, has to promise something. The goal? The complete undermining of the federal govt., the only power capable of standing up to corporate/wealth power.

  152. Clinton committed perjury. For a sitting President to lie under oath is to deny the authority of one of the three branches of government. He did it to undermine the civil rights of a US citizen. That was not a fake impeachment, nor will that of Trump be as he stonewalls and denies the authority of Congress to even investigate. Imagine what would have happened if the Senate had not broken on party lines and actually removed Clinton as President. Gore would have run in 2000 as the incumbent and likely won. No W, no Iraq war, and ultimately no Trump. I can only hope the republicans prove just as cursed as the democrats were when they chose party over principle.

  153. @Douglas Evans Not one to condone perjury at any level, but do you recall why he did so, if he in fact did? There was a special prosecutor, a lifelong dedicated Republican, who was given the task of investigating the land deal known as Waterwater. Starr took it has his "mandate" to investigate anything and everything about Clinton (unlike Mueller, who struck to the Russian interference probe). There might be some reason or another to impeach every president because, at one time or another, most presidents feel they are backed into a corner. I consider any impeachment on slim grounds and without a realistic chance of winning in the Senate to be fake. That it was carried out for political purposes was later confirmed by the Republican majority leader of the House, Dick Armey, who said that it "worked" because the Republicans got the presidency in 2000. There are vague parallels between what Trump has faced and Clinton in that both were met with strong opposition the moment they took office. What Clinton faced was a combination of social/cultural rejection. Clinton passed and approved at least some of what Republicans wanted through cooperation. Trump has welcomed and cultured opposition from the start, never asking for majority support. If he had wanted to be an orderly president and still reach his stated goals, he could have done so. Instead, he seeks constant conflict and division and now tries to win a second term by subverting American foreign policy. Far different.

  154. It may be hard to contemplate, and I don't see how it could be so myself, but maybe Trump is not "the culmination of where his party has been going for decades." Can someone or something come along that is actually worse than the current GOP/Trump?

  155. @koyaanisqatsi "Can someone or something come along that is actually worse than the current GOP/Trump?" A pertinent question. Remember when we all thought that the "intelligence and facts...being fixed around the policy" of setting the Middle East afire for the benefit of Halliburton was as low as the US could ever go?

  156. @koyaanisqatsi Picture somebody who adopts Trump's xenophobic nationalism but is more competent, and who genuinely believes in the theocratic impulses of the religious right rather than simply pandering to them as Trump does. Josh Hawley is one such politician. Trump will leave the stage sometime in the next several years, and no doubt we will see more figures like Hawley looking to fill the void. A long string of defeats force the Republican Party of Herbert Hoover's day to moderate itself into the party of Dwight Eisenhower. Today's Republican Party needs to spend at least a decade, and probably much longer, in the political wilderness.

  157. To my mind, some of the basic indicators of Republican disbelief in decadency are their acceptance of McConnell's refusal to give Obama's SC nominee a hearing and vote, and their willingness to engage in depriving people of a meaningful vote (for example gerrymandering and voter suppression laws).

  158. Thank you, Mr. Krugman. Indeed, there are those of us who've been making this case since at least the 1990s (with the inception of Faux News), if not since the Reagan era (the rise of the so-called "Moral" Majority) or the era of Nixon himself. But Trump has proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Biden (among many others) is dead wrong about this historical moment, and it's time for the centrists to admit aloud what Krugman lays out so clearly here.

  159. Centrists, Libertarians, Republicans, are all the same half of the same whole. The only conservative folks who claim to be something other than the Republican Party that gets their straight-ballot vote are folks who deem the Republicans too extreme (Centrists) or not extreme enough (Libertarians). One couldn't squeeze a single sheet of paper between any hyped differences between the three, but when they say they are something other than Republican, but certainly not Democrat, they feel empowered to not be deemed extreme, or not extreme enough.

  160. @David This makes no sense. What are you trying to say?

  161. So my question is who exactly are these Centerists that you think are waking up? I see no indication of anyone in the GOP turning away from the road they have been following all too gladly for the last 50 years.

  162. @AP18 They are Biden voters like myself who have become repulsed by the idea of trying any longer to compromise with the uncompromising. I will try to get Warren to be our candidate because there is no middle ground with the extreme right, and Biden's hopes for compromise were what sunk Obama's first term and brought about the collapse of the Democratic majority a few years ago.

  163. @candideinnc Warren doesn't stand a chance of being elected for the same reason that McGovern didn't. The American electorate is cautiously and rigidly conservative --- including the Democrats in the swing states. Warren is perceived as a brainy, radical woman, and that is more than enough to tank her with the kind of Democrats (male) who infest the swing states. My vote does not matter, since I live in California, but I don't believe Warren can possibly win against Trump.

  164. I think she can win because the majority of American families are struggling to afford expensive for profit health care and high interest student debt on wages that have stagnated for decades.

  165. I agree with much of the assessment of the Republican party, but let's not confuse this as an argument against a centrist/moderate approach to public policy. As well, the critique of centrism as "corporatist" is unfounded. Some centrist politicians may be too beholden to corporate interests, but that does not mean that a moderate approach that looks at all sides is inherently corporatist. As well, "progressive" policies must be judged on their own merits. Progressive policies are not necessarily good simply because the current Republican approach is bad. Biden may be a flawed candidate but he remains, I believe, the best chance for defeating Trump. Progressives forget that the midterm retaking of the house was a result of moderate victories. Progressives are risking another four years of Trump with their self indulgent battles about medicare for all etc. Isn't a platform of healthcare for all good enough?

  166. At least some in the media are showing signs of abandoning the 'both sides' narrative. And it's my sense, as well, that there is a meaningful shift underway, which may be accelerated by the Trump get out of Syria decision. But maybe it's wishful thinking. Also recommended on the subject of what the GOP has become - 'Rule and Ruin' by Geoffrey Kabaservice.

  167. Until I see republican ‘centrists’ standing up with courage and integrity, I really don’t believe they exist. I fear, Mr Brooks, this is wishful thinking. The ‘authoritarian party is waiting’ is actually in charge, and anyone who have decency and true patriotism has been silenced.

  168. @organic farmer Note that you are talking to Mr. Brooks through the comments on Dr. Krugman's column. Apart from both having conscious minds, the two lack much similarity.

  169. @organic farmer Paul Krugman wrote this, not Brooks.

  170. Well, perhaps. But I have to believe that the GOP could jettison Trump in the flash of an eye. It is not going to help to say the GOP is not fixable. We must give them a place they can live up to; appeal to their better angels. I know some think this is impossible, but that is why we have politicians who can lead and bring together those who can find what they agree on, and work up from there. Keep the faith baby!

  171. @timothy hoimes Just how much damage can be done in that “ flash of an eye”?

  172. @timothy holmes And what if they don't have any better angels and don't WANT a place they can live up to? You're talking about ideals. I believe the GOP don't believe in ideals. I think they believe in money and power. I think they'd laugh at your "better angels" and then put them behind barbed wire fences. I think their idea of a place they can live up to is a palace somewhere where there are lots of brown people waiting on them hand and foot, where they have to pay no taxes, and where pesky voters don't expect elections.

  173. I agree completely with this article. Trump is only the logical development of how the Republican party has been trending for years. Trump's authoritarian views are only more explicit than other Republicans . Is Moscow Mitch's holding back the vote on a Supreme Court judge anythng other than this same dimissal of democratic norms in favor of keeping power. Trump represents the culmination of the erosion of the moral compass of the Republican party. Let's hope that, Trump, being this expression of the central tendancy of the party, awakens the voting public to its dangers and punished hte party at the voting booth in 2020.

  174. Today's "centrists" who control the Democratic Party are tantamount to Reagan Republicans. Change will never come unless an authentic Left rises up to confront the corporate tyranny, authoritarianism and fascism that cloaks itself in the morally and intellectually bankrupt ideology of Neoliberalism. Time is running out to save democracy and the ecosystem. I fear we have yet to hit bottom.

  175. There is and has not ever been a "centrist".

  176. Republicans have pushed their politics so far to the right that they actually embrace totalitarianism. (The non-politically correct term is fascism). They wish to create a government where the state and corporations become one and the same. A state where minority rights are trampled upon in order to boost corporate and oligarchical power. Throw a little racism into the mix and we have a fascist state. The center that Mr. Krugman is referring to, is what the right used to be. There is no center. It was killed off many years ago. The fascist right is unreachable. They cannot be convinced of anything that contradicts their love for their dear leader. These people actually want an authoritarian in charge. Democracy is too messy, too inefficient for them. They essentially have rejected democracy for the expediency of dictatorial power. But the new center, which was the old right, can be reached. This is the silver in the middle that can throw Trump out of office and soundly. This is where the battle must be fought. Sadly, because of the entrenchment of the fascist right and their complete rejection of factual information and the democratic process, they must be rejected and voted out of power, not catered to.

  177. One of Mr. Krugman's most brilliant and insightful analysis. Hope it will help!

  178. Okay, let’s accept the thesis: the Republican Party is an authoritarian regime in waiting, and this development has been long true; Trump is merely a glaring culmination. So what? So you’ve labeled them and denounced them. They haven’t succeeded in a vacuum. They have many many supporters. True, less than the other side. But theirs are loud and aggressive and spoiling for a fight. How does the recognition of what you deem a fact, but what I would call judgmental name-calling, in any way point us out of the current political impasse? If they could be shamed to death, your column would have eradicated them in 2003.

  179. Now, why would someone in a little country wedged in between two big countries (Argentina - Brazil), who could be lying on the beach at Punta and sipping a gin and tonic - in our beautiful spring - be interested in American politics? Because it's bizarre. Fascinating. And because it affects us, little as we are. Our big neighbor to the north - Brazil - has a "phenomenon" now - running the country - who's not unlike Trump. We've seen all that authoritarian undemocratic stuff first hand during the Junta and the Dirty War backed by your CIA. Now, the people that were the revolutionaries - the Tupamaros - are more-or-less running the country. And they are not doing such a bad job. Argentina is a basket-case economically and politically. Brazil: a nightmare. But Uruguay is the Switzerland of South America: sensible, rational, centrist, health care, social justice, financial services to the world, a few sheep, couple of cows, soybeans, wheat - goats - and some very interesting and relatively happy people...

  180. Searching my memory, and trying to come up with a hopeful example of an authoritarian regime removed from office in a democratic process led by people following the rule of law. Help.....

  181. @Castro Poland? Lech Walesa?

  182. @Castro Um... to wit.... the American Revolution?

  183. You'll be waiting for Trump's impeachment about as long as you've been waiting for Hilliary's Presidential victory party Paul. If impeachment is such a sure thing, why isn't Pelosi taking a vote in the House? Could it be that she just doesn't have the votes? The Dems are sinking fast and people are getting tired of hearing all about all the free stuff they've been promised by the likes of Warren but know it will never materialize. Your political theatre is playing to a dwindling audience.

  184. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think this article is about equal to one spiderman pointing at himself meme.

  185. What Republican centrists? Are there any at all? I now have my doubts.

  186. It was evident back when Reagan was president that the Republican Party aimed to remake America as an authoritarian plutocracy. Reagan carried out a number of insidious moves that showed contempt for the opposition. One of these were the dismantling of the part of the Census Bureau that tracked the degree of concentration in an industry. This was to prevent antitrust suits; the number of antitrust cases dropped by 2/3 by the end of the George HW Bush administration. Another was the creation of classified programs in the DoD to shield from oversight by a Democratic Congress. Successive Republican leaders have merely expanded and embellished the Reagan agenda. The creation of Fox News gave the GOP a propaganda arm; they were increasingly adopting the methods of their former adversary, the Soviet Union. When Clinton took office, Republicans by then had the idea in their heads that they owned the capital. Well-established was the Arrogant WASP. When Clinton visited an aircraft carrier after declaring gays welcome in the military, a photo showed him surrounded by fighter pilots with angry smiles, on the verge of tossing him overboard. From Reagan becoming president, we have seen the WASP go to arrogant, to stupid, then resentful, and now militant. The latter is the opening to a second civil war.

  187. @Kevin Blankinship "When Clinton visited an aircraft carrier after declaring gays welcome in the military, a photo showed him surrounded by fighter pilots with angry smiles, on the verge of tossing him overboard." I'm gay and if you are not then I thank you for your support. But whether you are or are not gay, are you sure you aren't projecting the anger you expected the fighter pilots to be feeling onto a picture of a group of pilots smiling? It can sometimes be a simple thing to see a person one knows well wearing a smile and to know their smile is not genuine. It is much more difficult to assess how genuine are the smiles on the faces of a group of strangers in a photograph. Just a technical note but President Clinton never declared gay people to be welcome in the military nor did he issue an executive order (what would have been required) making that the case. He did make known his intention to issue such an order.

  188. @Kevin Blankinship I’m a WASP and a liberal. Don’t conflate ,please.

  189. I am a moderate, but I agree that the GOP since Reagan has been off the deep end. I am astonished that Trump is openly calling for foreign interference in our elections. That McConnell and the rest go along proves beyond a doubt they do not care about our democracy and I am really scratching my head at them splitting with Trump over the Kurds. I do not mean to be callous but slaughter has been going on in Syria for the last ten years. Trump talking about pulling out of Northern Syria can be a problem, but bad governments kill people all over the world every day. OUR democracy is in danger. How dare the GOP squirm and show open fear when it comes to protecting our vital institutions and then show this fake courage about a country in chaos on the other side of the world that we have no way of fixing? Ignoring Russia and China interfering in our country they ignore to please Trump and then jump up and down about Syria? I can't believe their cowardice is forcing me to side with Trump. Clearly someone is not putting American interests first.

  190. Republicans are unmindful of anything other than their wants. There is no law or convention that cannot be contravened if it is to their benefit. Compare the high dudgeon and deep sincerity of Republicans 'protecting our nation' from Bill Clinton's affair/lie to congress, as opposed to their complicit silence when it comes to Donald Trump's multiple affairs and multiple lies to congress, the DOJ, and the American people. Clinton kissed a girl and that was unconscionable. Trump solicited a foreign power to interfere in an American election -- and that's okay, even if it is a texbook example of a 'High Crime' as delineated by our founding fathers. To say American democracy is broken is a lie. To say the Republicn party is broken is much, much closer to the truth. I no longer consider them a party, in fact: just a discredited personality cult.

  191. I can speak for former Republicans; many of us want the GOP burned to the ground and the ashes spread. I am a former Republican. I left the party when we invaded Iraq. (I probably did sleep through the Clinton impeachment fiasco.) Most of my friends were Republican. None are now. They left too. We made a terrible mistake in 2016. Many people weren't paying attention. A terrible mistake can end me, or disfigure me. At this point, we will be lucky if our democracy is just disfigured.

  192. The GOP downward spiral began in the 90s with Newt Gingrich. For newt, it wasn't enough to disagree with Democrats on policy issues. They had to be demonized as unpatriotic. Democrats were not accepted as worthy opponents and fellow Americans. They were a dangerous enemy that had to be vanquished. Liberal became an insult almost as odious as socialist. That's when the divisiveness began. That's how we eventually got Trump. Thanks, newt.

  193. @GK Some would say it's beggining was in 1968. Remember the Southern Strategy?

  194. @Want2know The year reagan, the true architect of this take down of our system, began campaigning for the presidency. The press really blew it that time too.

  195. If you are going to be completely honest and really bring back Democracy then we have to get money out of politics and face the corruption of the corporate dems as well. Bernie who you despise has the only real plan of all the candidates to get rid of the crooks in DC who do not represent the voters. Haven't you wondered why Nancy took so long and why Richard Neal waited months to ask for trump's NYC taxes when he could have had them in a week? And only asked for them too late? The republicans in office now do not dare cross Trump, he has threatened to bring them down with him. Nancy and crew were handed 11 counts of obstruction of Justice plain and simple and pretended that they did not count Why? Because she and trump have the same donors. So she and Richard Neal have been aiding Trump as long as they could, they all belong to the elite club. 95 percent of the nation believes that the politicians work for their donors only. What I am awkwardly trying to say is that elephant in room stamping and trumpeting is corruption, corruption which is never mentioned by mainstream, that is what is at the heart of the Dems creating a situation where Trump could be elected and where he could keep breaking the law and be insane or mentally ill and stay in office. Mainstream loves the corruption as well. We gotta get all the corrupted politicians out of office, or nothing will be accomplished. Nothing, no saving the planet, no higher wages, no clean air, nothing. Read Bernie's plan.

  196. I am done with the extremists. I don't care if they are Republicans or Democrats. I want some decency back. Those who are defending Trump today should realize that he isn't going to be in the White House forever. Sooner or later a Democrat is going to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and he is going to have the house and the senate then you are going to complain without reason. It is not right to ask for a foreign country to interfere in our election. Such request should be seeing as a black mailing opportunity to foreign power. How can we trust a "leader" who lies 110% of the time. How can we trust someone who might not have the country's interests at heart because he is under black mailing from foreign power. One doesn't need to be Republican nor Democrat to see it, one just need to be honest. How can we trust a billionaire president who refuses to show his tax returns? A billionaire with the ego Trump has would have shown his tax returns just to bolster. Trump doesn't show his tax returns because they are telling a different financial history. We no longer need partisans, we need people of integrity.

  197. @Ferrando And when have we had decency? When we catered and kowtowed to Joe McCarthy? When JFK had the Secret Service bring women through the back door of the White House? (Though I agree Jack's indecency wasn't on the same scale, nor did the same kind of damage.) Call for decency, by all means. Just don't fantasize about getting "back" what we have never had.

  198. Perfect summation as to the GOP. I couldn't have said it better.

  199. I hope that David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Bret Stephens are reading. Despite their various individual merits, all have played a role in bringing the country to where it is today and enabling the origins of this madness.

  200. @DSM I’ll never respect David Brooks again after his support of the invasion of Iraq. He’s never been able to publicly admit his terrible mistake (despite Mark Shield’s subtle reminders.)

  201. Professor Krugman, This is one of your most important colums in the the years I've followed them. You have hit the head so squarely on the nail in referring to "fanatical centrists" who continue to deny the mountain of evidence that the GOP has over 15 years become the party of anti-democracy and under Trump, a proto-fascist organization desiring to fully emerge as a one party dicatorship without constraint by our constituion. Further, while Trump's liklihood of winning the 2020 election has certainly diminished for reasons you and others have addressed, the threat of fascism doesn't disappear with Trump's removal. That's why a Joe Biden in the presidency is really short-sighted and why an Elizabeth Warren in the White House is the decisive move needed to rebuild and extend democracy in the U.S.

  202. @Paul from Oakland We could do without another MIC puppet. Ms. Warren has voted for every Military budget increase and expansion except for the latest one from Trump. When she began her pres. campaign.

  203. I guess Paul Krugman wrote this column before Mitch McConnell issued his rare rebuke to Trump over his military pullout from Syria. If there's one thing that proves our Duopoly is, as Upton Sinclair wrote, "one bird of prey with two right wings" it's the unquestioning devotion to war, imperialism and regime change. Centrism is alive and well and living in the Military-Industrial Comples. George Bush was just adorably photographed taking in a game with Ellen - even as Iraq is exploding into an even bigger mess with absolutely no accountable for the elite club that invaded and occupied it, destroying countless lives and livelihoods. Trump's crime, in the eyes of the Extreme Center, is that he doesn't go about the business of Empire in the deadly discreet and platitudinous manner perfected by his predecessors. He can't keep his vile mouth shut or his twitchy paranoid tweeting thumbs still. Meanwhile he's being impeached (maybe)over geopolitical matters related to corrupt oligarchic interests while his racist invective and cruel immigration policies get reactions ranging from fleeting moral outrage to a centrist group yawn. Biden should bow out. The prospect of two old white guys on the debate stage arguing over who's more corrupt is more than any of us should be expected to bear, even in Democracy end-times.

  204. @Karen Garcia I was interested in what you had to say until i read the following: "The prospect of two old white guys on the debate stage arguing over who's more corrupt is more than any of us should be expected to bear" It's a sad fact that in 2019 such a brazen display of bigoted thinking, made up as it is of a combination of racism, sexism and ageism, will get a pass from so many self identified liberals ... to be sure for blatant prejudice and thereby faulty thinking skills on display - but also pragmatically because the widespread approval of such bigotry is making it much more difficult and sometimes impossible for progressive candidates to win elections. Whatever you believe about older white men (when does bigotry not involve strongly held inaccurate beliefs?) they are not stupid and they are able to accurately make the determination that with such sentiment regularly flowing out of supporters of the Democratic party without dissent from other Democrats that the party truly is hostile to them, indifferent at best to their needs and interests and hypocritical in its claims of egalitarianism. claims of moral superiority fall flat in the face of such clear evidence to the contrary. So, one must wonder how many generally egalitarian thinking men who fit that demographic are basically forced by common sense to support, with their efforts and their money, the one major party (out of only two) not obviously and openly clamoring for their downfall. It makes me reconsider

  205. @Karen Garcia "old white guys"? If you substituted any other description you'd be accused of discrimination -- rightfully. I find the comment offensive. Yes the Iraq war was a disaster and the responsibility falls a several individuals who happen to be older white men. While other older white men opposed these policies.

  206. Mr Krugman thank you for hitting the nail on the head unequivocally. We don't have a Trump problem we have a GOP problem and have for some time. Sadly with a political system biased against the majority they are able to cling to power. The scores of new, largely unqualified and/or ideologically hideous, judges the Senate has rammed through will help consolidate that power for some time to come. At least now as you say more and more people and importantly the media is wising up to this fact. It's time to start chipping away through voting and activism and push the GOP entirely to the fringe.

  207. Political "centrists" are people who crawl along the centre line of a two-way road, believing everyone who is going anywhere should stop and join them "at the centre." "Centrists" are "conservatives," that is, people who want to hold on to or "return to" things as they never existed -- pasts inaccurately remembered. Both are delusional.

  208. The center ??? Like the hole in a donut or bagel ? And about as useful.

  209. Years ago, I was a centrist. My basic views have not changed, but now I'm considered a liberal. The people calling themselves centrist now are just right-wing Republicans that dislike Trump. That's not centrist, that's very conservative. I ignore those people - they are just trying to muddy the waters.

  210. Of course Joe Biden is an apologist for Republicans. He is one! Look at the actual record, not the rhetoric. Look at the record of Obama and the Clintons. They are all Rockefeller Republicans in drag. In many ways, to the right of Richard Nixon. Time for a democratic nominee out of the Democratic Party. It's only been nearly a half-century since centrist "Democrats" went to Wall Street and abdicated democratic principles in the process. Particularly in financial regulatory matters. They've been enabling the Reagan Restoration ever since.

  211. Anyone remember Joe McCarthy? The more it changes, the more it remains the same thing.

  212. The problem with these "centrists" is that as the GOP has continually moved the goal post to the right,these centrists keep shuffling to the right. Dr. Krugman is right again; this isn't about the guy in the White House, this has been occurring since,at least,Nixon's resignation. I would venture to go back to 1965. LBJ said, after signing the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts ,"We have lost the South for a generation." Little did he realize it would also include Wyoming,North and South Dakota and a few other states. The centrists seem not to actually think, and that makes it difficult to determine exactly what a centrist stands for,if anything. As we speed into the future, environmental damage is here and now. Climate change is changing,now, and increasing exponentially not in some distant future. Natural resources are not infinite.Wage inequality is real. Over population is real. What,exactly, is the centrist position on these issues? It would really be interesting to hear.

  213. "... Trump has invited foreign powers to intervene in U.S. politics on his behalf; he’s even done it on camera ... It’s important to understand that the G.O.P. hasn’t suddenly changed, that Trump hasn’t somehow managed to corrupt a party that was basically O.K. until he came along." While Trump has not fundamentally changed, and the GOP has not fundamentally changed, Trump has managed to hijack the GOP to his own ends. The real news is Trump constantly doubling down on his overt malfeasance in such a public way. His persuasion methodology involves convincing people that the elephant in the room (i.e., Trump) is the new normal. We should embrace it. There is nothing wrong with it; there is nothing to see here, folks. Trump's fellow Republicans are stunned by this radically new political behavior. They are waiting in the background, watching to see how things unfold. Could this actually work for Trump? And for them? And amazingly, Democrats have been equally stunned, even now. We will have to see how the impeachment inquiry progresses. The House will almost certainly impeach (eventually). The Senate (at present) will almost certainly not convict. If the economy holds through next year, we will likely have a close election. One that, ironically, favors interference. We must accept our new reality. We should never underestimate Trump. And we should never take anything for granted.

  214. Some times, there are not two sides to an issue. Racism is simply wrong, it is immoral - not an arguable opinion. Greed is wrong...and on and on. Centrists? I don't believe that there can be any. They are typically right wingers too embarrassed to state what they really think (perhaps they are republicans with a shred of remaining decency). We are in deep trouble, that's for sure. Democrats - liberals - see a world where we are all in this together. Conservatives - Republicans, as well as independents and centrists - think only of themselves. And that thinking will destroy the world as we know it.

  215. @CSL In my experience, Republican friends, often of good character and general goodwill, regard representative democracy as an immoral system that legally appropriates what they believe they've earned with hard work and talent. They don't appreciate that in a market economy, the allocation of rewards from productivity isn't some divinely moral state, but a function of relative bargaining power which Republicans have systematically gamed for 40 years. That is, it isn't a matter of immoral "redistribution," but of the twisting of distribution itself. They don't like to admit that they don't support representative democracy, even to themselves. But, if you push them hard enough in conversation, they'll admit that they don't believe that everyone should be able to vote.

  216. You have it exactly right. The modern American conservative movement puts conservative values above democracy. It does not accept the right of its political opposition, the liberals, to govern. Conservatives / Republicans treated both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as illegitimate presidents. I'm not sure how this problem is solved in the long run. In the shorter run, we need first of all to admit that Donald Trump is governing as a dictator, not as president of a constitutional democracy. We need to remove him and his henchmen from power (of course we need to prevent him from stealing the 2020 election, which it's now obvious he plans to do). Then we need to put additional safeguards in our system. We should look at countries such as Germany and in Latin America, where they have also lost their democracies and put in new rules to prevent this from happening again. For example, we need to start sanctioning people and institutions who support anti-democracy policies. Engaging in character assassination and denying the legitimacy of political opponents are examples of behavior which should be criticized and penalized. The Republican party should also be dissolved, at least for a few years. This party has betrayed our democracy by supporting a corrupt candidate who does not support our constitution or our democracy. It shouldn't be hard for people to re-assemble a party that supports lower taxes but still supports democracy!

  217. This column is absolutely correct. The Republican Party has been overreaching for a very long time. But they noticed, especially in the time of Reagan, thatno one would ever stop them. Republicans would just pass it off as a difference in opinion or strategy, when in reality, the Republicans were dismantling democracy through every subversive means that they could come up with. How can anyone believe that Republicans care about the country or the American People. No one can ever name anything that they have done to help the country. They have only made the rich richer, and made themselves richer at the same time. Paul is right. But apparently, most people can’t see it. And so life gets worse for the majority of Americans, with no end in sight.

  218. It is amazing and appalling to hear GOP apologists arguing against impeachment using the rationale that 'we should let the voters decide.' The fundamental issue IS our ability as a country to hold free and open elections, when the president himself invites foreign interference in our elections. This is the heart of the argument FOR impeachment--we have a president who does not support and who actively undermines the very foundation of our Democracy. That the elected representatives of one our two major parties continues to support him is evidence that they too are not invested in Democracy.

  219. Whatever happens next, it's going to be insane. Knowing that the opposing party has no morals, no liberal democratic (small l and d) values, no decency, we can narrow it down. We know that Trump will be impeached. We know the Senate will not convict him, even if, as he is impeached, he starts shooting at random members of the press corp from Marine One. This means the most likely outcome is this: A bitter and enraged Trump uses everything at his disposal to subvert the next election. As his arsenal is powerful, this likely results in him winning, and the end of our democratic republic. That is the most likely outcome.

  220. Dr Krugman, They won't. I have come to believe that this has been the goal of GOP all along, grab power at all costs.. never care of American people or America. Enrich themselves and then fly away.. I don't get that people still think that GOP is making mistake as they don't know what is right or wrong. They very well do and they're working on it every minute. It's we over thinking liberals or progressives are unable to accept that people can be these selfish. Well, GOPer are.

  221. "today’s Republican Party is a radical force increasingly opposed to democracy" Of course not. Do not forget, in your infinite wisdom, that a very large number of people, small and everyday people versus your towering and all-consuming intellect, vote for that party for many years and that they found one Trump closest to what they need from American democracy. You can rage all you want but Trump's triumph is an ultimate proof of democracy in America, just as Obama's 8 years were. And I hope he (DT) wins again, although he is sliding and slipping more and more, since if there is any conspiracy in America, that can only be one by the left media and the pompous elite and their political lackeys (like Shiff) who conspire for at least three years now to overthrow the president and paint the other party as fascists, give or take. I will not even mention the egregious abuse of the media, utterly dominated by those forces.

  222. @ss That millions vote for a party does not qualify that party as pro-democratic values. Millions of ordinary people vote for fascist and extreme nationalist parties all over the world precisely because they want to limit participation in the political process to their in-group.

  223. Who are these Republican centrists that you're talking about? Really no idea who they might be. Are you thinking David Brooks?

  224. “ Yes, he has claimed that his domestic political opponents are committing treason by exercising their constitutional rights of oversight, ”. It is not a “right”, it is a responsibility.

  225. "[Trump] is unusually blatant and gaudily corrupt, but at a basic level he’s the culmination of where his party has been going for decades." What will ultimately become of this minority party, without voter suppression? Will it radicalize into some form of Neo-Confederate Tea Party?

  226. Don't forget that the Iraq War was a lying, shameless con job by W's neocons to get American kids to get their faces blown off for the security of Israel, not us. The neocons wanted to "remake" the Middle East by taking out Saddam to send a message to the others in the region that they could be next, if they didn't play ball with right-wing Americans working to "protect" Israel. So, yeah, the Republicans have not just been accepting foreign political aid, they've been accepting foreign political direction for almost twenty years. Only Trump's fear of being crushed if he actually took us into war in Iran has blocked the Republican instinct to fight a huge war to achieve "regime change" and endless occupation of Iran, just like Iraq. Israel's influence on the American right-wing has been almost as pernicious as Russia's.

  227. @Fred White The neocons are still in charge. Should Warren get elected she would have to deal with it as Obama had to do. Other potential Democratic candidates, like Biden, are neocons already.

  228. I voted for Romney is 2012 and Kasich in the 2016 primaries but can't vote for another republican until they start believing in climate change, gun safety regulations and standing up to pathological liars.

  229. Does Krugman realize that he himself is a capitalism-loving Boomer centrist?

  230. Krugman’s Problem is he only speaks to people who think like him. I recall way back when Nixon ran against McCarthy and denizens of the Upper East Side we’re totally confused when Nixon won in a landslide, they knew no one who voted for Nixon, how could he possibly win. And this my dear NYT friends is exactly what’s happening again.

  231. All true, but you still have that 35%...

  232. The worst part is conservative parties around the world are watching and learning.

  233. The only cure for the republican party is extinction. Perhaps a new party can emerge to represent legitimate conservative interests. That would be healthy for the country.

  234. @Markymark AND whaddodino: Is it really the Republican Party that is the problem. Or is it that there remains and perhaps today there is a growing segment of society that feels this way. Once it was the Blue Dog Democrat’s hiding these attitudes. It’s not the party, it’s the people in the party (but yeah, I know, those people make the party what it is today.)

  235. @Markymark And the way to extinction goes past Ms. Pelosi's shy demurral to impeach the orange pumpkin?

  236. I predict you'll win a Pulitzer for your sustained passion and brilliance in prosecuting the fraud Trump and his craven allies. At any rate, you deserve one. Thank you for a regular dose of reason, historical perspective, and mordant wit.

  237. @Mossy Dell "Mordant wit." Genius.

  238. Don’t mistake that being anti-Trump means one will automatically support a liberal agenda. If Liberals believe this is the moment to push ideas that have never been implemented before because Trump is a complete incompetent is dangerous. Don’t underestimate the ability of suburban Americans to make make devastating compromises when it comes to this election.

  239. @Practical Thoughts The party has an antisocial history, Trump is only the crowning cherry on the top.

  240. Enjoy the devastation, Practical Thoughts .... and the ashes of American democracy. America has been hijacked by the radical right; a little liberal tack to the center is long overdue.

  241. @Practical Thoughts I agree. Let us Democrats not make the same mistake by getting too jiggy in response to the Republican idiocy.

  242. Just as the GOP does not believe in democracy, it does not believe in racial justice either, or that slavery was an abhorrent aberration. They have been working hard for many many years to bring back the external manifestations, and in many cases, the actual substance of Jim Crow. Even slavery is being whitewashed and made out to be oh-not-so-bad. Rotten to the core.

  243. It's not just that the GOP treats Democrats as illegitimate: they have thrown out democracy once it stopped working for them. The instant the SCOTUS overturned voting protections of the Civil Rights act, GOP-controlled southern states returned to their nefarious practices of manipulating the vote. They continue to gerrymander, to under-invest in verifiable election machinery, and have rendered the FEC impotent. The current GOP is anti-democratic. It appears they would sooner have an incompetent kleptocracy that does their bidding than actually fulfill their oaths to protect the Constitution.

  244. @Rich and they did it all of it on their own with the help of their big-money sponsors, no help needed from some Russians to hack computers for them. Putin did not invent the electoral college.

  245. There is nothing wrong with the GOP that one or two national landslide defeats and an end to gerrymandering couldn't mostly cure. Parties only change when they experience significant and broad defeat, and can't try to partially offset that by picking their voters to insure legislative control. In other words, when they and their candidates have no other choice.

  246. The Republican party has been on a path of self-destruction for decades. Trump is the right man, at the right time, at the right place to finish the job. For 8 years the party blocked the Obama administration from governing and Mr. Biden, of all people, should know that. With or without impeachment the party will implode with Trump. The question will be who will be left to pick up the pieces?

  247. @ARL So a party that's on a path of self-destruction controls all three branches of government (yes, even the Congress via the Senate). Does that make any sense? Republicans will go from extreme to extreme unless the voting public wakes up and stops them. The Democrats' greatest fatal illusion is that the GOP will self-destruct.

  248. @Subhash Garg True, they control all three branches of government, the reason why they can't and don't think they need to govern if they wanted to. They feel free to loot the wealth of the nation. The mice are dancing on the table because the cat is out of the house.

  249. American politics is in disarray, and so is U.S. democracy. This is a constructive criticism, by the way, as many of us are interested in seeing a renaissance where hope still vibrates in our souls; that social justice is as vital as is dialogue among differing parties. Centrists seem complacent with their 'holier than though' attitude of not making waves...and ascribing flaws equally to both parties...when it has become obvious the republican tribe remains so rigid and anti-democratic, that there is no remedy but a deep revolution from within, where humility must be present, along with the will, and ability, to bend to the evidence (reality), the truth, and the urgent need to be conciliatory for the country's survival. Last though not least, we all must participate, and hopefully contribute, to this experiment called democracy; otherwise, the current demagogues and charlatans shall remain.

  250. Regrettably, Mr. Krugman as coined the term "Fanatical Centrist" to describe the Do-Nothings in the Republican party. For many years, I've called myself a Radical Moderate--somewhat tongue in cheek--to advocate for positions that are boldy middle-of the road and refusing to accept that our political world should be diametrically opposed and always in conflict. Mine is a world where greater use of contraception provides opportunities to reduce abortion without banning it, or developing temporary immigrant visas whose explicit goal is to export good business practice and entrepreneurialism to their home countries on their return. Or the concept that anyone that who wants to hold public office might be automatically disqualified from holding office...

  251. Centrists are dying off because there's no longer any profit in being a centrist. Formerly, being a hard-core right-winger got you shunned as a Bircher and dead in the water politically; now, it puts you put into the Senate majority. Fermerly, being a centrist meant you could get some support from both sides; now, you get support from nobody. As an economist, Krugman might want to look into why incentives have changed so that almost nobody wants to be a centrist any more. It clearly has something to do with the rich getting way richer while the rest of us tread water or worse, but is that the only thing?

  252. I’m sorry, did I understand that both parties have lost their center? The political landscape has been ripped rightward.

  253. @Alexander Bain - 'Is that the only thing?'; no, but it is one of the most important things in a representative democracy dependent upon campaign funding. George Washington highlighted the inherent danger of representative democracy on the single occasion Washington addressed the Constitutional Convention, as discussed in the NYTimes by Bruce Bartlett (conservative): and Washington wanting to be certain there were enough actual Representatives so voters felt they were in control of their government, instead of legislators becoming captives of their donors. If the House was as large as it should be - or even as equitable as representation in other democracies - our politicians would be too numerous to all be bought by special interests, making Citizens United moot :)

  254. @Alexander Bain The incentive in being an extremist is the career opportunities. Koch funded "think" tank, lobbyist for big business, TV appearances to repeat conspiracy theories, or a staff / support person to any of the above. With a trillion dollar tax cut, a 1% expediting fee is $10 billion.

  255. Trump is the GOP without clothes.