Paul Krugman is one of my favorite economists, no surprise to any of my friends, and I’m sure I will address that topic at some point in the future. What is nice is that he will venture into right field, left field or just way out of his area of expertise with a theory that sometimes hits home — for example his September 5 column.
Elite bashing is a time-honored American sport. One can safely argue that both initial waves of emigration to this land and the Revolutionary War were reactionary movements against the appearance of domination by home-country elites.
In today’s society where economic outcomes are increasingly based on the ability to attain certain elements of elite status, particularly related to education, the ability to play the populist card is perhaps as easy at any time since the Depression. What is remarkable is that it is the Republicans who are able to play it so well. Arguably, this is the party whose policies have furthered class and economic divisions in the country, and whose policy goals would continue to deepen that rift. Yet, Republicans also have been able to benefit from them by appealing to those left behind on a separate level, whether it be faith, values, or according to Krugman, sheer resentment at being told that one is the loser in this economy. For the GOP, waving the bloody flag is a time-honored rite and one that they have employed to great electoral success.
This argument makes sense given Clinton’s success at pointing out that, “It’s the economy stupid” in plain language that preserved both the ability to advocate for change as well as membership in the class of the resenters.
All this makes me wonder if today’s Pandora’s box would contain vitriol instead of hope.