Krugman: Republicans Are Bigots So Vote Clinton

Paul KrugmanI devised The Paul Krugman Bernie Sanders Giving Game just three days ago. If I were actually playing it, I would now be broke. Three days! Krugman doesn’t seem to be interested in much of anything but how wrong it would be to vote for Bernie Sanders and how Hillary Clinton is the only sane choice.

He also has taken to complaining about Sanders’ supporters not being nice to his friends and him. In fact, last week, he wrote, Health Wonks and Bernie Bros. Now I don’t know the etymology of the term “Bernie Bros”; it probably started with Sanders supporters, but among the liberal punditocracy, it has become a pejorative. The implication has long been that Sanders appeals to young men and that being a Sanders supporter is somehow sexist (despite the fact that the people supporting Sanders first wanted Elizabeth Warren). And note: young women now support Sanders far more than Clinton.

But Krugman’s column yesterday was truly over the top, Plutocrats and Prejudice. It’s a straw man, as so many arguments against Sanders are: Sanders is an idealist who can’t get his big ideas accomplished and Clinton is a pragmatist who will make incremental improvements. The implication is always and forever that Sanders is some ossified old sixties socialist who can’t adjust to political reality. Listening to Krugman, you would think that when the public option was off the table, Sanders had voted against Obamacare. What actually happened was that he got the Senate to roughly double funding for community clinics in exchange for his support. Sounds like a guy who is capable of making incremental change.

So we have a Republican Party that is bigoted. One of their great bigotries is against powerful women. And one of their greatest bigotries is Hillary Clinton herself. And she’s the one who is going to be able to make incremental progress?

So Krugman argues that since Sanders talks insistently about economics, he must think that is the only (or almost the only) issue. It’s funny. Just a few days before, Jonathan Chait wrote pretty much the same thing, What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About American Politics. I’m not suggesting that these guys are on the Clinton payroll, but they both have the same ax to grind, and they grind it the same way.

But it is worse than that. Because Krugman starts off by going over territory that I’ve gone over before: the plutocrats were able to get their lower taxes and decreased regulation by supporting politicians who got votes by demagoguing against minorities. But that isn’t entirely true. We got the Taft–Hartley Act in 1947 — long before the Silent Majority, Welfare Queens, and Willy Horton. But does Krugman really believe that Sanders doesn’t understand the role that bigotry has played in helping the plutocrats since the 1960s? I don’t think so.

If you look at the other things that Krugman has been writing, you’ll see a certain level of hysteria. He’s been looking for anything he can hammer away at Sanders on. There’s never a kind word. And there is never a negative word for Clinton. No, in Krugman’s world, Clinton is right and perfect and Sanders is wrong about everything that matters. As one commenter (PN) put it, “Prof Krugman seems to dream of ways to disagree with Sanders and to support Hillary.” It’s true.

So we have a Republican Party that is bigoted. One of their great bigotries is against powerful women. And one of their greatest bigotries is Hillary Clinton herself. And she’s the one who is going to be able to make incremental progress? Krugman ended the article with a question, “Isn’t there something noble, even inspiring, about fighting the good fight, year after year, and gradually making things better?” Yes! Yes! Again, I say, yes! But isn’t there also something incredibly suspicious about a candidate who campaigns in that way?

Everyone (and certainly Krugman) knows the Mario Cuomo quote, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” And Bernie Sanders’ entire career has demonstrated that. The only place that isn’t true is in the fever dreams of people like Krugman. It could be that Krugman either doesn’t really like Sanders’ positions, but this seems unlikely given that they really aren’t that different from Clinton’s. I think it is that Krugman doesn’t think Sanders can win the general election. That’s a fair argument. Make it! Don’t give us this garbage about how Sanders is too high minded and naive to be president.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

20 thoughts on “Krugman: Republicans Are Bigots So Vote Clinton

  1. But isn’t there also something incredibly suspicious about a candidate who campaigns in that way?

    No, why?

    • Because it lowers expectations. It’s quite possible that Clinton’s $12 minimum wage is her poetry.

      • Again, how is it suspicious exactly? It can be short sighted, pointless, wasteful, dumb, not sensible but suspicious?

        That sounds like there is something you think it is sinister about her wanting to raise the minimum wage. Which since I know you think it should be raised, doesn’t make any sense.

        • I don’t know how to put it any differently. I remember Jonathan Chait writing this about Olympia Snowe at her retirement about her reputation for reasonableness, “If a Gingrich administration proposed spending a trillion dollars to erect a 100-foot-tall solid-gold Winston Churchill statue on Mars, Snowe would no doubt decide, after careful deliberation, that the wise course was to trim the height down to 90 feet and perhaps use a cheaper bronze alloy in the base.” Where does the $12 minimum wage come from? It’s right in the middle between what the minimum wage would be if it had simply kept up with inflation ($9) and what activists are asking for ($15). Is she not trying to signal to workers that she’s okay and to business owners (and donors) that they have nothing to worry about?

          I don’t think this is worth picking apart, given it was a rhetorical device. But if Krugman can criticize Bernie Sanders for not being calculating enough, why is it wrong for me to criticize Clinton for being too calculating?

          • The reason I am picking at it is because it was the only thing that really stuck out for me. Seemed to be the normal “Krugman is wrong about this one thing regarding Sanders.”

            When you get to his argument that it should be considered a good thing someone has spent their career slowly but steadily pushing things to be better for people you say yes…then immediately say it is suspect for Hillary Clinton to do have done this. With the later clarification it is because it is appeasing the corporate masters while throwing a more significant bone to labor then Grover Cleveland. I see this time and again when people (not just you Frank) comment on Clinton’s behavior. Her actions can be reasonable in light of all information known at the time yet they are somehow tainted for reasons no one can really explain.

            She isn’t a grand visionary, never has been but she knows Washington and she also knows more about the rest of the country since she has been around it so much so she knows what she can get people in Montana to support enough to get through Congress. She calculates incredibly carefully for both her sanity and for what can be done. Clinton wants to minimize to the greatest possible extent the massive criticism she knows she is going to get for no matter what she does, it is always somehow “wrong.”

            Since Bill got it too I know it is not merely sexism that drives this (although the nastiness from other pundits is evidence of the sexism she faces to this day.) It has always puzzled me (even more so after I ran for office myself and found myself checking a comment I would normally say because you have to be careful.) The Clintons are very much politicians and they both say and do things that are going to be calculated. Perhaps because it is so close to the surface with them? I don’t know.

            As for the Krugman pointing out that Sanders is naive: you yourself pointed out just yesterday when I was commenting on his lack of fundraising and support for down ticket races that Sanders is limited in his experience for campaigning outside his state. Clinton has been involved with four presidential campaigns, she has been a Senator of a really lopsided state and she has been involved in dramatically different politics then Sanders who has been a mayor and a representative/senator from a fairly homogeneous state.

            I don’t think it is wrong to say “whoa whoa whoa there, you cannot possibly thing you can get any of this done can you? Do you have any idea what is going to happen in the general election when the Republicans stop tearing down each other and tear into you? Do you know how nasty they are going to get? These are not the fairly polite New England Republicans we are talking about but the red state Republicans who know they have zero accountability for anything they say about you, your polices and your family.” Nor is this that major of criticism since there is not a lot else they can complain about with the two candidates being liktehis in policy.

            As for the Bernie Bros-they show up in places like Salon to make some of the most ridiculous arguments for Sanders and they use a lot of sexism when talking about Clinton.

            I just want this to be over. I am tired of ticking off my friends when I defend Clinton. I am tired of the fighting between the two sides. I want to go back to the fun stuff-attacking Republicans for their insanity.

            • Yes, I do say, “Yes!” The point is not to attack Clinton. My problem with Clinton is in no way any different than my problem with Obama. I’m not against Clinton. But Sanders has been working for as long as Clinton making slow progress. Why should Sanders be discounted because he says what he really wants? Why does Krugman write something like 5 posts in a week attacking Sanders as an idealistic rube?

              And I am not making the old arguments that the Clintons are untrustworthy and too “slick.” I understand: that’s all part of the job. The complaints against them have generally been that they are good at their jobs. I think you are reading far too much into that one line. It was, again, a rhetorical flourish, which allowed me to move into the Cuomo quote. It was a slightly more refined attack than, “You say my mother sleeps around? I say your mother is a prostitute!”

              Sanders should be attacked. It looks like his single payer plan is sloppy. But he should not be attacked for being too idealistic. And that has been the main argument Krugman has been making.

  2. There’s an interesting old Kipling stanza which gets to the heart of much of this:

    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we’ve proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

    Basically, the Democratic party turned its back on labor issues in order to stop losing corporate election money. (Yes, Carter did it before he lost, I’m generalizing.) And it worked; Clinton and Obama had corporate support, they weren’t stomped like Mondale/Dukakis.

    But the New Democrat plan of making America more corporate-friendly, while helping people by increasing access to higher education, didn’t work. All it did was increase inequality and push the price of education sky-high.

    It’s the Dane-geld. You give corporations what they want so they won’t crush you. That increases their power, and now they want more. (Eventually, in the era the poem talks about, the Danes just conquered England. For a while. Until somebody else did. It was real “Game Of Thrones” back then.)

    So, to prevent the collapse of society and the destruction of the ecosphere, we have to stop corporate power. But can it be done without corporate money? The Bernie camp is claiming we have to try. The Clinton camp is saying the ground support isn’t there yet, and unless we pay the Dane-geld things are going to get much worse much faster.

    And both sides are right! If we lose this election, we’re in deep trouble. If the Democratic win but keep paying the Dane-geld to corporations, we breed more alienated supporters of fascist-style movements, and we’re in deep trouble. It’s the damn “Kobiyashi Maru” test, is what it is. There is no right answer.

    But you’re right; Krugman should poop or get off the pot and straight out say, “Hillary’s more electable, we can’t afford to lose.” All the stuff about how a President Sanders would never achieve anything (Kevin Drum pimps this angle too) is hogwash. When Obama stood his ground against the dumb s**t the Republicans threatened to shut down government over, public support was completely behind Obama. If President Sanders was cock-blocked for four years standing for popular principles, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world It’s quite silly to say so.

    Elizabeth’s doubts about the competency of the Sanders campaign staff are more interesting than these “Bernie’s too liberal” snoozer articles.

    • No love for this bit? It’s one of my favorite rants, ever. (That Peckinpah one should just be destroyed, it’s a rambling stupid mess. One thing I like about my favorite sports blog: nobody reads it, but I can delete my own posts. And I often do.)

      I quoted Kipling, folks! Literary references! That I stole from another book I was just reading, but still!

      • Sorry James. I try to stay up on the comments. And both you and Elizabeth have a tendency to post things while I’m catching up, and that messes up my accounting. Remember: I don’t view comments the way you all do. If I did, I would miss even more than I do.

        The thing is that I don’t think money is such a big deal. I think it is one of these great political myths that everyone “knows” is true. For one thing, studies have shown (or at least one study) that winners raise more money because they are winning. That is: much of the cash comes in after donors see who is going to win. As I’ve pointed out (and created models of): the Democrats lost in 1980, 1984, 1988 because of economics. They won in 1992, 1996, and 2000 (Yes!) because of economics. They lost in 2004 because of economics. And they won in 2008 and 2012 because of economics. The problem is that candidates think they need all this money to win. (Clearly: they need enough money to compete, but beyond a certain level it is wasted. Look at the 2010 Brown-Whitman race.) And because they think they need the money, they feel they must produce for their masters. I just don’t think it is true. Regardless of Trump, Jeb Bush was going to lose and he had nothing but money. Clinton has had much more money than Sanders, but that doesn’t seem to be the deciding issue.

        That’s my thought for the night.

        • Eh, I was just being a whiny whining “look at me, Internet!” depressed jerk. It happens every month or so.

          I’m on board with the model and will swear by it until it breaks.

          I stand by my generalization about the battle in the DP. Both the “we can’t afford to lose on impossible principles” and the “we can’t keep being the slightly less corporate party” camps are entirely correct. It really is the Kobiyashi Maru (the no-win scenario from “Star Trek II.”)

          • It’s not a problem. It was a good comment.

            You know, you don’t have to tell me (or probably any other regular around here) what the Kobayashi Maru is. Did what start with The Wrath of Khan or was it mentioned in the show?

              • Good to know. It is by far the best ST film. Although when Nicholas Meyer came back for ST6, it was pretty good too. Of course, I should revisit ST5. That was so campy that it just might be wonderful now.

  3. Here’s a nicely metaphorical comment over at Ted Rall’s site about a common complaint — that Sanders is overly focused on economic issues:

    Along the same lines, here is a well written rebuttal to Te Nehisi Coates’ recent attack on Bernie Sanders (via

    • My biggest problem with reparations as a one-time payment is the level of debt/deprivation most poor Americans have. Most of that money would be transferred straight away to credit-card bills, landlords, and buying new working appliances to replace broken stuff. It wouldn’t increase the economic status of Black Americans by much.

      Now, if we established a minimum-income which was way above survival level, that might make a hell of a difference.

      Where I’m with Coates is I think something like that minimum income should be higher for African-Americans. Until it’s not necessary, 50 or 100 years down the road or however long it takes.

      • As I discussed in I Was a Middle Class Food Stamp Kid, you basically can’t give to the poor without giving to the rich. As long as we have a capitalist system, that will be the case. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing. And I thought the article straw manned Coates original article (The Case for Reparations) a bit. I didn’t read him saying that the reparations should come from the poor. Although politically, it would certainly be spun that way.

        • Nice 7-11 article. I worked for 7-11 for a few years. I got robbed a bunch of times. It sucks having a gun pointed in your face, it’s pretty scary.

          I don’t think Coates believes for a minute reparations should come from poor whites. I’m sure his take is like that of Naomi Klein calling for climate justice; she thinks we should take the wealth of fossil-fuel companies and use it to help poor people affected by climate change. She’s 100% right, and Coates is too. There’s no shortage of companies that prey on the vulnerability of Black Americans, and we should confiscate every penny their stockholders thought they owned. Fuck property rights. If you run a for-profit prison, you are destroying the world, and screw you, your money is theft, it belongs to the people you’ve abused.

          • Payday loan and pawn shops have traditionally been small businesses. And the owners doubtless thought they provided a valuable service. The problem is more systemic than that, of course. I don’t even want to get into the private prison industry. At the very least, there should be a law against any of them lobbying for harsher sentences. But there is this idea I’m seeing everywhere these days of a kind of dual-track democracy. That is pretty much what we have. That’s what John Edwards was talking about with the two Americas. And our media — dominated by the upper class — really doesn’t care about the other America.

            There is some quote about how you can tell a lot about America by comparing the size of the business and labor sections in the newspaper. The point, of course, being that there is no labor section. But there once used to at least be labor reporters. Now that’s pretty much gone. And one reason is because it’s seen a biased. People fetishizing Wall Street is just providing the facts, apparently.

          • Found it. Noam Chomsky, of course: “Just open this morning’s paper and compare the size of the business section with the size of the labor section. There isn’t a labor section.”

    • I liked that comment, “Whoa there, Johnny One Note.” It does remind me of why I’m a Sanders supporter; for years I’ve been saying that economics trumps everything else. This is the first time I would be able to vote for someone who thinks the same thing.

      That’s an excellent rebuttal to Coates. My own is simpler: Coates misunderstands Sanders and his campaign. First, he thinks Sanders is a radical; he isn’t. Second, he thinks Sanders is running as an issue candidate; he isn’t; he’s running to win.

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