The downfall of the G.O.P. started decades ago


My reward was to be labeled “shrill.” And at the risk – actually not the risk, the certainty – of sounding whiny, I’m still generally treated as having overstepped the boundaries, even though everything I said back then is now becoming more or less conventional wisdom. I guess I was a premature anti-GOPist.

So, I can’t help but notice that someone is missing from this paragraph in the Vox article: “We came to our blunt conclusions from perches inside the belly of the beast, observing, analyzing and interacting with the top political figures in Congress and the executive branch since 1969. Other scholars and journalists, including Jonathan Chait, James Fallows, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson had paved the way with observations and analyses similar to ours.”

O.K., whining over. What I want to talk about is when, exactly, the Republican Party went over the edge. Obviously, it didn’t happen all at once.

But I think the real watershed came in 1980-81, when supply-side economics became the party’s official doctrine.

I’m not sure, even now, whether people who aren’t involved in economic policy discussions understand that supply-side economics wasn’t a doctrine like monetarism or even real business cycles – ideas I may think are wrong, but which had and, to some extent, still have significant support from professionals in the field.

Supply-side economics never had any evidence behind it, and it never had any support in academic research. It barely even had any support among economic researchers and forecasters in the business world. It was (and remains) crank economics, pure and simple.

Yet 35 years ago, the Republican Party was already willing to embrace this doctrine because it was politically convenient and could be used to justify tax cuts for the wealthy, which have always been the priority.

Given this, why should anyone be surprised at all by the denouncing and denial of any kind of evidence that followed? You say economics is a pseudoscience? Fine.

First they came for the economists, then they came for the climate scientists and the evolutionary biologists.

Now comes Donald Trump – and the likes of conservative commentator George Will, a climate denier, complain that he isn’t serious. Well, what did you think was going to happen?


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