In the world of superegos, one would have to search the landscape left of the aisle to find one bigger than Paul Krugman. He eclipses even right of aisle brain trust icons like John Bolton when it comes to believing in the wisdom of the betters over ordinary people. I’ll probably never forget the time Krugman had the audacity to tell the United Kingdom what they should do; or how the English press dismissed the unruly Colonial from the last garrison of their America of yore.
But one does have to admire Krugman’s penchant to say what he thinks. The man is no dummy. He is one of America’s elite thinkers even if I don’t always agree with his conclusions. He has the right to get on his soapbox, which I support completely. While we don’t have a Hyde Park in the United States, we do have Times Square and the Naked Cowboy does have to take a break from his station now and then. But in America, Twitter works just as well.
Professor Krugman, calculating the odds for the outcome of the November 2020 election with his keen mind, issued the following Tweet of alarm.
“Where we are now: at this point, it will be almost impossible for Trump to win reelection legitimately. It’s quite possible, however, that he will try to steal the election. And if you don’t think that can happen, you’re not paying attention”
Krugman’s Tweet series — and you should read all of them to get the full measure of the man’s thinking — goes on to do a back of the envelope calculation of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, its lingering effects on the economy, and Krugman’s considered opinion that Trump couldn’t possibly win based on his analysis of the economy. His last three Tweets of the series then depart from his area of subject matter expertise and engage in speculation about how election theft could occur, delving wildly into theories about federal agents in polling places in November, broken polling machines in Democrat-leaning districts, rejections of absentee ballots and other scary monsters hiding under the bed frame. You can see all the Tweets here, “Paul Krugman Tightens Tin-Foil Hat in Latest Bizarre Attempt to Prove Trump Will Try to Steal Election”.
Stepping back, nearest I can tell, the COVID-19 quarantine lockdown seems to be taking its toll on Paul. This type of hyperbole is a stretch even for him. He’s smart enough to do the math in his head that the November election is a contest President Donald J. Trump can win. Given which side of the political aisle he is on, he should worry. Very much! His instinct that the Trump candidacy is stronger than the mainstream media narrative portrays it to be is legitimate. Good analysis, Professor Krugman, and thank you for letting America know that is what the actual calculus says. Very honest of you, sir.
But I do not believe Krugman’s panic is justified in this instance.
As I noted in an opinion piece on RedState earlier this week, “Opinion: The Central Question of the 2020 Election”, this election is better examined as a mandate referendum question on whether the American people want to continue the wave of outsiders challenging the Washington D.C. establishment or hand power back to the elites.
The visceral reaction of Paul Krugman, being an elitist himself, tells me he fears Donald Trump not just as an individual, but as a symbol of outsider power challenging his belief set. I think he is wrong to not acknowledge this deeply emotional and fundamentally irrational aspect of what lies beneath the 2020 question. Truthfully, it is one of the things preventing the United States of America from dealing with the challenges that beset us constructively. And right now, Professor Krugman is as much a victim of this echo chamber narrative as anyone. We are all human after all. We all seek our own versions of happiness.
But now is the time for people who can see past these emotions to help everyone else rise beyond their prejudices. And in that regard, I think Professor Krugman, if he can see past his fears that he might need to live with the impolitic Donald Trump, and whatever other outsiders from the left and right will be coming to Washington D.C. in 2021 to question his counsel in a new and brutally frank Socratic dialogue, might yet prove that intelligent men who can calculate complex things can be constructive to the American Dream.
It is important to conclude here that this article is not just about Paul Krugman, whom I have chided many times over the years because his intellect does focus complex issues poignantly. I could say the same about other elite minds in academia and government in this country and make the same point that being elite does not exclude one from also being a member of the ordinary people that are the blood and soul of our country. We all need to remember that at times like these.
The challenge is to wake up that brain trust to see beyond the disjointed cacophonous noise of the internet and the systemically flawed manufactured narratives that have consumed the mainstream media. The challenge is to get back to a time before all of this when clearer thinking prevailed. Perhaps an old manual typewriter finger exercise,
“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”