How Did We Slide So Far, So Fast?

Around the world, liberal democracy is in an existential struggle with fast-spreading neo-authoritarian rule. Think Donald Trump and Rick DeSantis. Think Viktor Orban, Poland's Andrzej Duda, Marie le Pen. Think Narindra Modi and Recep Erdogan. Think of nations where freedom is in retreat, places like Thailand and Burma. Closer to home, think of Poilievre, Kenney, Moe and their profit, Stephen Harper.

Paul Krugman tries to make sense of what's happening in his homeland. How did the self-styled "arsenal of democracy" become the arsehole of democracy?

Krugman dissects the madness of Florida where math texts are banned for perceived traces of critical race theory or the state turns on one of its great revenue generators, Disney.

What’s happening in Florida makes sense once you realize that what Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies are up to has nothing to do with policy or even politics in the conventional sense. What we’re seeing instead are symptoms of the transformation of the G.O.P. from a normal political party into a radical movement built around conspiracy theories and intimidation.

On the economics: Just a few months ago The Tallahassee Democrat, a local newspaper, published an article titled “The Mouse That Need Not Roar,” arguing that Disney World’s huge role in Florida’s economy gave it almost unchallengeable political influence.

Most directly, Disney World is in a 25,000-acre “special district” within which the company provides basic public services even while paying local property taxes. Last week, however, DeSantis signed legislation eliminating that district, which will leave local taxpayers on the hook — and also, reportedly, saddle them with more than $1 billion in debt.

...Not long ago, using state power to impose financial penalties on corporations for expressing political views you dislike would have been considered beyond the pale. Indeed, it may well be unconstitutional. But the attack on Disney has gone far beyond financial reprisal: Suddenly, Mickey Mouse is part of a vast conspiracy. Florida’s lieutenant governor went on Newsmax to accuse Disney of “indoctrinating” and “sexualizing children” with its “not secret agenda.”

If this seems crazy — which it is — it’s also increasingly the Republican norm. I don’t think political reporting has caught up with how thoroughly QAnonized the G.O.P. has become.
As I mentioned the other day, roughly half of Republicans believe that “top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings.” Here’s an even more impressive number: 66 percent of Republicans buy into “white replacement theory,” agreeing wholly or partly with the claim that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate with voters from poorer countries around the world.”



  1. I just want to move to a remote south Pacific island and live the rest of my life in peace without having to be exposed to all this insanity going on everywhere.


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