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Matthew Yglesias on Paul Krugman

Yglesias writes, apropos of Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal:

Matthew Yglesias: [T]he book deals with the big picture of American politics over the decades, focusing on broad macro trends in the economy and the political system rather than campaign tactics or the controversies of the day. He puts forth substantial empirical data showing a very tight link between race -- and racial attitudes -- and voting behavior, particularly the willingness of non-poor white southerners (but, crucially, not Dixie's worst-off white folks) to vote very conservatively.

And of course it's easy to do a thought experiment in which blacks and latinos go from being about 10 percent of the electorate each to being about 20 percent each and ask yourself what would happen to the Republican Party. Well, it would lose all the elections. Unless, of course, it could broaden its popularity to minority voters. Such appeals would focus, naturally, on the large traditionalist segments of the black and latino populations. But right now, appeals of that sort largely fall on deaf appears. But perhaps a GOP that wasn't as relentlessly hostile to the economic interests of the non-elite would have much more success.

Indeed, I'd say that's probably where we're going. George W. Bush's efforts to broaden Republican appeal to include minority voters and build an enduring Republican majority failed. He was able, however, to eke out majorities based on mobilizing white Christian identity sentiments (with national security issues playing a large role in helping him do so) combined with generous financial backing from corporate managers and so forth. But the initial analysis that this wouldn't be adequate over the long-run was, of course, correct -- the white Christian share of the electorate is shrinking -- and the post-9/11 boom in nationalist sentiment wasn't bound to last forever. And it turns out that traditionalism alone isn't good enough to make non-whites want to vote Republican. To succeed over the long run, they'll probably need to moderate their economic agenda.

The alternative, of course, is the permanent war state: the permanent busying of giddy minds with foreign quarrels, which then turns into the cementing of a majority of a population into a faction based on opposition to an Internal Enemy. The establishment Democrats of the south used this strategy from 1876 to 1970 to cement their rule--with the north and the Blacks playing the role of the external and internal enemies. It could come back.