With his usual clarity, Paul Krugmanexplains why the current economic situation is looking a lot like 1938. It's not a pretty picture, and what's so bracing about Krugman's analysis is that despite the note of hope on which he ends, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that our current political situation makes doing what's necessary all but impossible:
A few weeks ago, two conservative culture-war mainstays, the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council (FRC), announced that they were launching a campaign to preserve the Bush tax cuts. It may have seemed odd -- after all, does the New Testament mandate low taxes for the wealthy? -- but you could see it as a bid for conservatives to retain their relevance, since the expiration of the tax cut is a looming battle, and in a bad economy their usual fights for Puritan sexual ethics have become less salient.
If you opened up your New York Times today, you would have seen this headline on the front page: "In a Shift, Fewer Younger Voters See Themselves As Democrats." More terrible news for the Dems! "There's a vibe," one college hunk says while pumping iron at the gym. "Right now it seems like Republicans just care a lot more than Democrats."
Wow -- I guess the nation's young people are abandoning the Democratic Party in droves. So how big has this swing been? Ten points? Twenty points? Let's amble on down to the 21st paragraph of the story:
One of the interesting things that happened after September 11, 2001, was that many of the people Sarah Palin calls "real Americans" -- meaning those who live in small towns away from the two coasts -- suddenly became big fans of New York City. This was, to put it mildly, a new development. For many Americans, New York is everything they can't stand. It's hard and fast and brash and noisy and expensive. The people there can sometimes be brusque, even rude. You don't like it when you hear somebody speaking Spanish down at the local pharmacy? New Yorkers speak 170 different languages.