Paul Krugman highlighted a particular case of Republican silliness, Monetary Conspiracy Theories. Apparently, Donald Trump is now saying the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates low because it wants to make Obama look good. It’s almost funny. After all, raising interest rates is something that the Fed does in order to put people out of work. I wonder if Trump’s supporters know this? I realize they are mostly older people, but still. The implication is that raising interest rates is something that we should want to do. Donald Trump is as much a populist as I am a fascist.
Krugman’s point is that Trump may be crazy to think this, but back in 2010, Paul Ryan was arguing that “quantitative easing wasn’t a good-faith effort to support a weak economy, but an attempt to ‘bail out fiscal policy,’ preventing the fiscal crisis Obama’s policies were supposed to produce.” Same thing. But Paul Ryan isn’t just a moderate in the eyes of the mainstream press — he’s a super serious wonk! This isn’t just about monetary policy, of course. The entire Republican Party is crazy. They are all pushing the same nonsense. If you were a Republican voter, what would you want: a candidate who believed crazy things but spoke soft, or a candidate who believed crazy things and ranted about them? That’s not hard.
What we have here is a Republican base that is paying attention. There is nothing surprising about what they believe. What is shocking is that we have an establishment media that slices and dices the Republican Party. There is a clear narrative: there are crazies in the party, but it is at base a good old fashioned traditional political institution. There is no reason to believe this. They are basing their judgement on rhetoric, not policy. Trump yells about “illegals,” so he’s an extremist. Marco Rubio does not do this, so he’s a moderate. But the two men don’t actually disagree about immigration policy.
It’s clear enough what has happened. The Republican Party has pushed further and further to the right until they are all bunched up at the edge of the fascist cliff. So until they all decide to just take the plunge, the only thing Republican politicians can do is find more and more extreme ways to verbalize their displeasure.
But how did we get to this point? The media have just followed along, defining as acceptable political discourse anything that enough Republicans were shouting about. Supply side economics was always a crock. No non-partisan economist thought it would work. And after 35 years, it has failed to ever work. But will establishment reporters counter Republicans who spout this nonsense? Of course not! Allowing it has worked great for them these last decades; no reason to change now.
So let me reiterate. Republican base voters are making sense in being attracted to Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. The “establishment” Republicans aren’t offering policies that appeal to reasoning, so all they are offering is crazy policy with boring rhetoric. The fact that the mainstream press can’t tell that the “establishment” and “extreme” candidates are offering the same policy is why we find ourselves with an insane Republican Party to begin with.