[T]he long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.
Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.
To put Krugman’s idea in my preferred terminology, the Nationalist wing and the Materialist wing have finally reached the breaking point, at which their many contradictory ideas no longer can be made to hold together.
Over at thingy’s blog the other day there was an interesting discussion around the question “what if robots engaged in political discourse“? Well, if I may use the analogy of “the Republican party as robot”, Krugman is saying, effectively, that the party has gone the way of G0-T0, and is “unable to follow both of its prime directives” and, like G0-T0, this causes it to “break”.
At the moment, this has produced a field of candidates consisting of three rather ridiculous figures and one extremely dull one. I don’t say that the Republicans won’t win the Presidency this year, but even if they do, it will probably be Romney, who most of the nationalist wing hates anyway.
I wonder, though, what this means for the party longer term. Win or lose, I expect to see some big changes in the Republican party. I would venture to guess–and this is only idle speculation, not firm prediction–that they may become more like the pre-1960s Democrats. That is, remain fairly conservative on social issues, but become decidedly more liberal on economic issues.