Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#40 / Plutocrats And Prejudice

Paul Krugman wrote what I thought was a column worth reading on Friday, January 29th, titled "Plutocrats and Prejudice." I encourage anyone reading this blog to track it down, and to think about what Krugman is saying. 

One purpose of the Krugman column was to compare and contrast the Bernie Sanders' and the Hillary Clinton approach to political change. In this column, as well as in previous pronouncements, Krugman comes down on the Clinton side, or on what he designates in the column as the "many evils" side, of the debate. In Krugman's characterization, Sanders believes that "money is the root of all evil," and Clinton has a more nuanced view, with her thought being that "money is the root of some evil, maybe a lot of evil, but it isn't the whole story."

That distinction is nice for the purpose of discussing various approaches to political change, but I doubt it's actually a fair way to describe Bernie Sanders' thinking. I have not observed that Sanders is oblivious to the evils related to racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice. I think that both Clinton and Sanders have a full appreciation of ALL of those powerful forces working to undermine the health of our society, economy, and political life.

Krugman notes that it is not ONLY the success of billionaires seeking power that has worked to deteriorate politics in the United States. In what he properly says has been a political "race to the bottom" in the Republican Party, it has been the combination of the power of big money coupled with an appeal to the racism and sexism of the South that has been so politically effective to bad ends. 

Maybe, as Krugman posits, a "political revolution from the left is off the table," but I really wonder what else is going to change the equation that Krugman quite accurately notes has corrupted our current politics. As I see it, Sanders is suggesting that we might be able to leverage our growing understanding of how the "billionaire class" has perverted our politics, to the extent that we could actually break the political connection between the billionaires and prejudice. In fact, decency and democracy have not completely fled the South (or the country in general). Who is going to appeal to that basic decency, instead of ceding ground to prejudice?

Saying that an effort to break the powerful connection that Krugman identifies is an effort that is "off the table" seems to me to be a counsel of despair.

I'm sticking with that "hopey changey" thing that (as Krugman admits) has actually led to some wonderful, progressive changes over the past eight years.

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