Krugman's 'Conscience': Economic Woes Caused When 'Southern Whites Started Voting Republican'
If you take the title of Paul Krugmanâs latest book, âThe Conscience of a Liberalâ literally, you would find that a liberalâs conscience would not prevent him from portraying Southern whites as Republican pawns controlled by the ideological right.
âItâs almost embarrassing. I talk a lot to political scientists, and you go through the numbers and the polls. And it all boils down â almost everything else goes away, except for five words: âSouthern whites started voting Republican.â The backlash against the civil rights movement explains almost everything thatâs happened in this country for the past 45 years,â Krugman said in an interview on the left-wing Democracy Now! newscast on October 17.
Krugman has been a columnist for The New York Times since 1999 and is an economics professor at Princeton University. He has created his share of controversies throughout his stint at the Times, including from within.
âOp-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults,â Daniel Okrent wrote in his farewell column as the Timesâ âPublic Editorâ in the May 22, 2005, issue.
Krugmanâs recent book is no exception to that statement. He attempted to back up his thesis that all the economic woes of America can be blamed on Republicans who were brought to power by Southern white voters.
Krugman believes the ideal situation for the United States hinges on the success of what he calls âthe welfare stateâ â a notion he reiterates over and over again.
But it is Southern whites that have prevented âthe welfare stateâ from existing as he sees fit:
âWhite backlash against the civil rights movement is the reason America is the only advanced country where a major political party wants to roll back the welfare state. Ronald Reagan began his 1980 campaign with a statesâ rights speech outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered; Newt Gingrich was able to take over Congress entirely because of the great Southern flip, the switch of Southern whites from overwhelming support for Democrats to overwhelming support for Republicans.â
What constitutes the welfare state? According to Krugman, it all begins with the Democratic-led Congress pursuing âan unabashedly liberal program of expanding the social safety net and reducing inequality â a new New Deal.â
But all the big-government liberal ideas he holds true are stymied by what he calls âmovement conservatism,â â a group he defines as not only the Republican Party and Republican politicians, but âmedia organizations, think tanks, publishing houses and more.â
So, how does âmovement conservatismâ do it? Krugman explains his conspiratorial belief by stating this movement is âlargely financed by a handful of extremely wealthy individuals and a number of major corporations, all of whom stand to gain from increased inequality, an end to progressive taxation, and a rollback of the welfare state â in short, from a reversal of the New Deal.â
Krugman passed around plenty of blame for todayâs economic woes through his revisionist view of history â all the way from the 1896 presidential election between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan, with the best parts of American history occurring when Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted the wealth redistribution programs of the New Deal in 1933.
But, according to him, all the work of Roosevelt was eroded when President Ronald Reagan came to power in 1981. âRonald Reagan was the first movement conservative president,â Krugman wrote. He called the years leading up to Reaganâs presidency âThe Radicalization of the GOP.â
If it werenât for âmovement conservatismâ playing on Southern whites, he says, achieving what Krugman believes is right could be done â enacting a hodgepodge of wealth redistribution programs fueled mostly by his class warfare rhetoric.
âI believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty,â Krugman wrote. âI believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal and Iâm proud of it.â
By definition, Krugmanâs beliefs fall more along the lines of social democracy â a movement that wants to undermine free-market capitalism and true individual liberty for the sake of fulfilling an egalitarian emotional desire.