In his Friday New York Times column, economist Paul Krugman addressed the issue of whether money is the root of all political evils, or just many of them, as epitomized by the divide between Bernie Sanders (for whom the former is true) and Hillary Clinton (for whom the latter is).
Krugman, as has become increasingly clear, belongs to the Clinton camp. "Oligarchy is a very real issue," he argued, "[b]ut it's important to understand how America's oligarchs got so powerful." It was not merely a matter of "buying influence," he wrote, that gave rise to "the American hard right," it was "an alliance between an elite seeking low taxes and deregulation and a base of voters motivated by fears of social change and, above all, by hostility toward you-know-who."
Krugman admitted that
there was a concerted, successful effort by billionaires to push America to the right. That’s not conspiracy theorizing; it’s just history, documented at length in Jane Mayer’s eye-opening new book “Dark Money.” But that effort wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as it has without the political aftermath of the Civil Rights Act, and the resulting flip of Southern white voters to the G.O.P.
Until recently you could argue that whatever the motivations of conservative voters, the oligarchs remained firmly in control. Racial dog whistles, demagogy on abortion and so on would be rolled out during election years, then put back into storage while the Republican Party focused on its real business of enabling shadow banking and cutting top tax rates...