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Paul Krugman: America Has Begun Its Slide Into Fascism

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Paul Krugman: America Has Begun Its Slide Into Fascism

Paul Krugman

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio proudly referred to his tent city prison as a “concentration camp.”  For decades, the former sheriff freely carried out his abuse and racial profiling, ignoring any requests to stop, Arpaio was finally convicted for contempt of court earlier this summer, but the conviction lasted barely three weeks before Donald Trump pardoned him, paving the way for what Paul Krugman calls “fascism, American style.”

“There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law,” he writes in his Monday column. “What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed.”

It’s not hard to understand why Trump would be eager to pardon Arpaio. The president fawns over dictators like Duterte and Putin, and accuses immigrants of being rapists. Of course he’d love the idea of a strongman flourishing in an American county. In addition, Krugman points out, “the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”

His base also revels in spectacular feats of racism, and with his approval rating plummeting, Trump needs them more than ever.

What’s less immediately clear is how we got here in the first place. Why was Arpaio allowed to openly engage in abuse and racial profiling? Why did we allow a failed businessman-turned-reality television star to become president? For Krugman, the blame lies with their collaborators. What made Trump’s rise possible, he explains, is “the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren’t white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests.”

Most of is have read the reports about poorly educated white voters and the fawning profiles of Trump supporters and their “economic anxiety.” What we hear less about are the “millions of votes from well-educated Republicans who — despite the media’s orgy of false equivalence or worse (emails!) — had no excuse for not realizing what kind of man he was. For whatever reason, be it political tribalism or the desire for lower taxes, they voted for him anyway.”

Their representatives in Congress have done little more than issue verbal slaps on the wrist. The likes of Paul Ryan express “dismay” and “concern” every time Trump issues a new immigration ban, praises the KKK or acts on one draconian policy or another. Krugman isn’t optimistic that Arpaio’s pardon will lead to action to back up the flimsy concern. If anything, he writes, “We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does?”

Probably not. Krugman leaves us with this chilling thought: “There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.”

Read the entire column.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.




  1. dbtheonly August 29, 2017

    Mr. Krugman, it’s taken you this long to notice?

    You’ve missed years of “fair and balanced”, “fake news”, and “liberal media”?

    You’ve missed calls for the 2nd. Amendment Solution?

    You’ve missed years of alt-right/neo-Nazi/White supremacist media/propaganda?

    You’ve missed years of truth being only what the Party wants it to be? (See point one)

    You’ve missed the attempts to limit voting?

    You’ve missed the calls for boycotting Macy’s for not carrying Ivanka’s jewelry line? “Kauft Nicht Beim Juden” in spirit if not fact.

    No this has been going on for a while.

    It’s worse. It’s much worse.

    By the way, am I allowed to point out that I suggested that Trump would pardon his way out of the Mueller Investigation some time ago?

    1. Independent1 August 29, 2017

      According to this article from the WaPo Trump CANNOT pardon himself:

      No, Trump can’t pardon himself. The Constitution tells us so.

      Can a president pardon himself? Four days before Richard Nixon resigned, his own Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opined no, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.” We agree.

      The Justice Department was right that guidance could be found in the
      enduring principles that no one can be both the judge and the defendant
      in the same matter, and that no one is above the law.

      The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power
      to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official
      removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.


      1. dbtheonly August 30, 2017

        Okay I1,

        Let’s play the game.

        You’re Mueller, I’m Trump.

        You subpoena someone. Call him Manafort. He refuses. You move to enforce. I pardon.

        You charge his wife with tax evasion in an attempt to flip him. I pardon her.

        You demand records. Anyone refuses. You move to enforce. They ignore. You cite for contempt. I pardon.

        You want to cite the next Attorney General for obstruction of Justice after firing Mueller and everyone connected with the investigation? Nope. Pardoned.

        Unless and until you can get a significant number of Republicans behind you, I can derail every attempt to secure the evidence necessary to obtain the evidence upon which an impeachment is to be built. I can pardon my way out of any investigation because you’ve got no enforcement method.

        Much of the legal system depends on people playing by the rules.

        And that ain’t Trump.

        1. Independent1 August 30, 2017

          You need to read this article below; and you’re clearly assuming all Republicans are just going to stand by and let a clearly guilty president save himself from prison. Sorry, I don’t buy it. As corrupt as Republicans are, they’re going to soon wake up and realize that Donald Trump and his family are nothing but GANGSTERS!! Gangsters out to rob as much money from the American public as they can possibly steal!!!!

          How the pardon power could end Trump’s presidency

          An excerpt:

          But issuing pardons to his own friends, associates and relatives could be a perilous path for Trump, creating additional exposure on two levels, criminal and political — both flowing from an important proposition that is often overlooked in the debate over presidential power. Our legal system provides mechanisms for probing the intent and motives behind the exercise of power. The president may have the power to grant effective pardons in the Russia investigation, but both Congress and the federal prosecutor are entitled to determine whether the exercise of that power violates constitutional and statutory norms.

          The most obvious constraint is the authority of the House of Representatives to determine whether an effort to squelch an investigation into criminal misconduct by people close to the president constitutes an impeachable offense. The core concept behind “high crimesand misdemeanors” is abuse of political power in violation of the best interests of the nation. Thus, it would not be necessary for the House to conclude that the decision to issue pardons constituted a conventional “crime.” All that would be required would be to find that the motive for pardons was to protect the president’s personal interestsand political future by cutting off the investigation into the misdeedsof those around him.


          1. dbtheonly August 30, 2017

            Indeed, but you’re still assuming the Republicans want to play by the rules. These are the same Republicans whose gerrymandering attempts are struck down in Courts. These are the same Republicans who tried to strip the NC Governor of his power when a Democrat won the office. These are the same Republicans that pass Voter ID Laws, which, in PA, were aimed at minorities “with surgical precision”. A majority of Republicans are willing to postpone the 2020 election to fix the, non-existent, voter fraud that gave Hillary the ostensible majority.

            No, I’m still at my “unless and until” point. Propriety is out the door. Comity is gone. Trump will go as far as the Republicans allow him to go. Even then I think he’s more likely toppled in a 25th. Amendment coup rather than an impeachment.

          2. Independent1 August 30, 2017

            In case you haven’t seen it, the courts are working to rescind Trump’s pardon of Arpaio; and maybe put to question all of Trump’s future pardons as being self-serving.

            See this article:

            Legal challenge to Arpaio pardon begins

            an excerpt:

            As with any other presidential power, the power to pardon is constrained by the ordinary requirements of federal law applicable to all public officials. For example, if representatives of a pardon-seeker arrived in the Oval Office with a bundle of cash that the president accepted in return for a pardon, there is little doubt that the president would be guilty of the crime of bribery. . . . If Trump were to pardon any of the figures in the current Russia investigation, his action would certainly impede or obstruct the due administration of justice, as the courts have broadly construed that standard.

            It would not be difficult to imagine Mueller making the case that the motive behind such interference was “corrupt.” As the Founding Fathers made plain, the purpose behind the pardon power is to extend mercy to those who have offended and have demonstrated remorse. Using the pardon power to protect the president’s own interests against embarrassment or exposure is not legitimate. Rather, a crassly self-interested exercise of presidential power to impede the due administration of justice is the very antithesis of the president’s most solemn oath — “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”


          3. dbtheonly August 31, 2017


            I’ve postulated that even interviewing for the (potentially open) position of Attorney General might, ipso facto, make one part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice.

            Haven’t seen anything about trying to rescind the Arpaio Pardon. Not sure it’s possible. And the cases you cite deal with other crimes in pursuit of a pardon.

            Did you see the SCOTUS opinion reversing the bribery conviction of former VA Gov. Robert O’Donnell? I don’t think it is possible to bribe a Public Official anymore.

            “is the very antithesis of the president’s
            most solemn oath — “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

            This is Trump we’re talking about.

            You’re significantly more optimistic than I.

          4. Independent1 August 31, 2017

            db, at some point it would seem to be that it’s going to end up be akin to ‘survival of the fittest’. Sooner or later people l Ryan, McConnell and other GOP leaders and even judicial judges are going to have to wake up and realize that the direction Trump is leading America will even threaten their livelihoods and even lives.

            Trump is trying hard to make Congress and courts irrelevant; and make Trump the ruler of the land. Are these Congressional idiots and Judges too stupid to realize?

            I’m just hoping that at some point they’ll wake up and see the writing on the wall.

          5. dbtheonly August 31, 2017

            “Have to wake up”? “Can’t stay stupid?”

            We’ve been saying that for a while. Still waiting.

            Constitution says nothing about the reasons for a pardon. But, even so, how much faith do you want to put in the Roberts Court?

          6. Independent1 August 31, 2017

            Yes, the constitution and its amendments do provide guidelines and limits to whom and why the president can issue a pardon. Here’s an article which specifically points out one of those restrictions:

            Trump and Manafort get big reminder that pardon power does not extend to state crimes

            In the event Manafort or anyone else is charged under New
            York law, or threatened with indictment, there will be nothing Trump can do about it. His “power to grant reprieves and pardons” only covers “offenses against the United States,” according to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.


            I don’t claim to be an expert on the Constitution but one of those articles I posted for you earlier specifically identified wordings in the Constitutional and the amendments that set some limits and guidelines on whom the president can pardon and for what justification; and has historically been allowed to pardon. And simply willy, nilly pardoning someone without some form of justification like Trump did with Arpaio has never been allowed or happened before.

          7. dbtheonly August 31, 2017

            Okay, at the risk of boring everyone to tears,

            The pardon power comes from the King to pardon anyone for a violation of the King’s laws. The sovereign had an absolute right to do so. All offenses were against the Sovereign. Even today in the UK criminal cases are titled Queen vs. (Defendant). This was carried over in the US as part of the definitions of what exactly a “President”was and what he was to do. The limitations to Federal Crimes is an outgrowth of the Federal nature of the system established. I’ve teased Ms. E, I’ll tease you, did you ever think you’d be supporting “State’s Rights”?

            I do not know of any pardons that have been vacated as ultra veres. I’d have to dig. But I prefer to focus on the other part of your argument, “It’s never been done before.”


            This is Trump. He has no interest in past propriety. He has no goals beyond his own. He has no control of his actions, his own military high command keeps someone near by so he doesn’t shoot off atomic bombs in a fit of pique. Trump’s done lots of stuff that had never been done before.

            That’s not a restraint. Not for Trump.

          8. Independent1 August 31, 2017

            Oh! And if a federal judge can block an immigrant ban stipulated in a Trump EO because of Constitutional reasons, why couldn’t a court ban Trump’s pardon of Arpaio because they find it counter to the purpose for which presidential pardons were added to the Constitution? Not to mention that the pardon was handled counter to the general rules of presidential pardoning stipulated in the Constitution (in Trump trying to establish a whole new precedent for presidential pardons like willy nilly just letting crooks go free).

  2. Beethoven August 29, 2017

    As I said in the comment section of another article, every person who voted for Trump, and every person who helped him get elected President, shares the responsibility of putting into the White House the most incompetent and corrupt person ever to hold that office, a person who is trying to destroy the U.S. Constitution and our system of laws for the sole purpose of making himself and his family richer. As far as I am concerned, every person who allows Trump to continue acting as President is collaborating with and abetting a traitor to this country.

    As for Joe Arpaio, he is scarcely better than the German Nazis who rounded up, starved, and gassed millions of Jews for no other reason than their racial heritage. Joe Arpaio used his office to treat Latinos as badly in some cases as the Nazis treated the Jews, for no other reason than his hatred of Latinos. He is a murderer, because people died as a result of the mistreatment he and his deputies provided, and a disgrace to the office he held because he arrested, jailed, and mistreated many innocent people simply because they were Latinos, while many crimes that did not involve Latinos were ignored.


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