WASHINGTON, September 7, 2015 — Paul Krugman, not known for his kind words for Republicans, has a few kind words for Donald Trump.
Yes, that Donald Trump.
Trump, says Krugman, has rejected Republican economic orthodoxy and is willing to raise taxes on the rich. More than that, Trump supports universal health care. Inverting the Seinfeldian “not that there’s anything wrong with that”—he is amusingly defensive of his own tolerance—Krugman immediately asserts that Trump is “the ignorant blowhard he seems to be,” just not for his views on healthcare and taxes.
If Krugman believes that Trump is okay on economics—not that there’s anything wrong with that—then what must liberals think of Trump’s views on Kim Davis?
The left believes that Republicans have all rushed to embrace Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses as long as she must issue them to gay couples. Republicans don’t dare alienate the religious right, their thinking goes, for the right will never accept gay marriage as the law of the land.
Indeed, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal have all had kind words for Davis while condemning her incarceration for contempt as criminalization of Christianity.
But the entire Republican field did not rush to Davis’s defense.
Chris Christie waffled, “we have to protect religious liberty and people’s ability to be able to practice their religion freely and openly, and of course we have to enforce the law too.”
Marco Rubio apparently argued for letting Davis not sign licenses but requiring her office to obey the law.
Rand Paul defended Davis, but said government shouldn’t be issuing marriage licenses in the first place.
Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham both took a harder line: They called on Davis to obey the law or resign. And, pointing out that same-sex marriage is “the law of the land” and “the law is the law,” so did Donald Trump.
To be accurate, he actually came closer to Rubio territory, suggesting that instead of resigning, Davis could let her assistant clerks sign the offending licenses. He clearly stood up for the law with a consistency that the White House, with its careful parsing of immigration law, can’t match, but he may not have gone far enough to get a liberal pass on this one; he doesn’t believe Davis should be jailed.
The correct response, the one that Trump failed to give, is that Davis should be forced to eat feces and sign marriage licenses for gay couples, or she should be gutted and strangled with her own intestines.
Culture warriors are nothing if not vengeful.
The left’s loathing of Trump seems to revolve around his stand on immigrants (“racist!”) and the fear that his election would make America an object of contempt in European eyes.
They needn’t worry about Europe; in Europe, “asylum seeker” is a euphemism for “benefit thief.”
With the exception of Angela Merkel and the government of Sweden, most European leaders are more cold-hearted on immigration than Trump. Even European leftists are inclined to discuss immigration in terms of economic gain.
Trump doesn’t propose to treat illegal immigrants with anywhere close to the savage cruelty of Australia’s government.
Europe’s glass house on immigration is too big and fragile for them to throw rocks at Trump.
On issues from taxes to healthcare to reproductive rights, Trump’s views seem closer to those of Democrats than to those of the Republican leadership. And holding those views seems not to have harmed him at all, suggesting that the Republican base is less concerned with taxing the rich and stopping same-sex marriage than the leadership is, or than the leadership believes they are.
Yet to the left, Trump is the sure sign of GOP insanity.
They point to Trump’s divergent stance from GOP orthodoxy on taxes, abortion and marriage rights, then denounce him as the exemplar of all that’s wrong with the GOP. Why?
Fear. Trump is popular for the reasons that Hillary is not: He’s not part of the establishment; he’s not a defender of the status quo; he’s not in the grip of special interests. Trump is too big to be captured, and he threatens to break things that special interests hold dear.
Breaking things is the last thing on Hillary’s mind.
Bernie Sanders’ appeal is similar. Support for Hillary isn’t from affection, and it’s not based on trust. It’s based on fear—fear of Republicans, fear of the unknown. Hillary is untrustworthy and ethically challenged, she’s tied to Wall Street, she’s the past and not the future, but she’s safe.
Safety is exactly what more and more voters don’t want.
Trump and Sanders are threats to party establishments and to entrenched interests. It would be foolish to vote for them simply out of hope, but it would be foolish to vote for Jeb or Hillary simply out of fear. With Jeb and Hillary, we know exactly what we’ll get; we’ve had it for the last 20 years.
If they take a close look at him, Democrats might find that they have little to fear from Donald Trump. Their party leadership, on the other hand, will find him—and Sanders—as terrifying as the GOP leadership does. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.