29 July 2011

Republicans are Only Part of the Problem - But Not for the Reasons the Mainstream Press Suggests

In his column today, Paul Krugman doesn't just excoriate American political elites, he chastises the press for mis-representing the source of the ongoing political disaster in Washington. He concludes by exclaiming: "The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse."

In a certain sense I agree. One major source of political and political-economic dysfunction in the U.S. is the reactionary politics of a series of Republican Congressional delegations (and paralleling that, the reactionary politics of the Bush-Bush-Reagan administrations). It surely is hard to argue with Krugman about that. Pretty much everything we know about the rightward shift of American politics in the past several decades locates a preponderate amount of responsibility with the Republicans.

But Krugman is only half right here. He spends a good portion of the column documenting the anemic centrist politics of the current Democrats. They are not now - and have not in recent memory - mounting any credible opposition to the Republican train wreck. Essentially the Democrats are Republican-lite and that is a big part of the problem too. The difficulty they pose is not one of being equally extreme (as the press narrative would have it) but of being craven. No one seems to want to say that out loud either.

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