Paul Krugman is no friend of Donald Trump or the Republican Party, to put it mildly. Yet while his January 2 New York Times op-ed is extremely hard-hitting, his argument is incomplete in a way that understates the challenges they might constitute for our democracy.
One challenge he airs is whether America will turn into a Trumpistan, along the lines of the Central Asian states (the names of which all end in “stan”), formerly parts of the USSR, that are controlled by corrupt, crony-capitalism strongmen pushing personality cults. (Pardon my nit-picking, development professional digression, but Krugman gets this wrong when it comes to Kyrgyzstan, the only one of those five states that is a functioning though flawed democracy – not that we’re ones to judge these days. It should not be lumped in with its neighbors.)
Krugman emphasizes how much Trump prioritizes his own personality and enrichment, as well as his anti-democratic tendencies – traits the compliant Republican Congress is unlikely to counter. He goes on to skewer the George W. Bush administration for setting a deeply cronyist example that Trump’s will likely exceed.
And yet, in at least one crucial respect, Krugman underestimates the threats to our democracy. He makes no mention of the matter of Republican voter suppression of likely Democratic supporters this past November. I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this in coming months, as careful election analyses trickle in.
For starters, though, consider this post-election snapshot of voter suppression efforts in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida. Consider whether such efforts might have made the difference there or elsewhere. Finally, consider the implications going forward, in view of the many Republican-controlled state governments and a Republican-controlled Supreme Court…