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Paul Krugman: Who Broke Politics?

Friday, November 4, 2016 8:52
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 ”Republican leaders have spent the past couple of decades … trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class”:

Who Broke Politics?, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: …This has been an election in which almost every week sees some longstanding norm in U.S. political life get broken. … So how did all our political norms get destroyed? Hint: It started long before Donald Trump.

On one side, Republicans decided long ago that anything went in the effort to delegitimize and destroy Democrats. Those of us old enough to remember the 1990s also remember the endless series of accusations hurled against the Clintons. …

When Mrs. Clinton famously spoke of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to undermine her husband’s presidency, she wasn’t being hyperbolic; she was simply describing the obvious reality.

And since accusations of Democratic scandal, not to mention congressional “investigations” that started from a presumption of guilt, had become the norm, the very idea of bad behavior independent of politics disappeared: The flip side of the obsessive pursuit of a Democratic president was utter refusal to investigate even the most obvious wrongdoing by Republicans in office.

There were multiple real scandals during the administration of George W. Bush, ranging from what looked like a political purge in the Justice Department to the deceptions that led us into invading Iraq; nobody was ever held accountable.

The erosion of norms continued after President Obama took office. …

What was the purpose of this assault on the implicit rules and understandings that we need to make democracy work? Well, when Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995, he was trying to, guess what, privatize Medicare. The rage against Bill Clinton partly reflected the fact that he raised taxes modestly on the wealthy.

In other words, Republican leaders have spent the past couple of decades … trashing democratic norms in pursuit of economic benefits for their donor class.

So we shouldn’t really be too surprised that Mr. Comey, who turns out to be a Republican first and a public servant, well, not so much, decided to politically weaponize his position on the eve of the election…

Despite Mr. Comey’s abuse of power, Mrs. Clinton will probably win. But Republicans won’t accept it. … And no matter what Mrs. Clinton does, the barrage of fake scandals will continue, now with demands for impeachment.

Can anything be done to limit the damage? It would help if the media finally learned its lesson, and stopped treating Republican scandal-mongering as genuine news. And it would also help if Democrats won the Senate, so that at least some governing could get done.

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