Paul Krugman is not a fan of the Republican Party. It is held together by a few central policy positions for a long time which have enforced by very very very rich supporters. He also argues that both of our political parties are led by professional politicians. His view is that Republicans are worse than Democrats because they represent less diverse set of constituents. Those are old arguments that did not interest me. There were two related points that did interest me,
We have all watched Donald Trump's performance in the White House. Its hard for many people to imagine a person less fit to be our president. He was an accident waiting to happen and it happened. The first step for Trump was to win the GOP nomination. He captured the constituents that had belonged to Ted Cruz along the way while calling him "lying Ted". He also left Jeb Bush in the dust early in the contest even though he had raised much more money, and started out as the favorite. That left "little Marco Rubio" to compete against him. That was no contest. Trump had wiped out the cream of the Republican crop on his way to victory. That was a big surprise, but what surprised many people, including Paul Krugman was how the Republican Party accepted and welcomed the intruder who had captured their party. Even "lying Ted" and "little Marco" have rallied around the Republican president during his latest crisis. The leader in the House, Paul Ryan, has worked hard to support Trump's agenda even though he had once been critical of his morality. In politics winning is everything. Party loyalty is more important than the national interest.
That leads us the most interesting question in Krugman's article. Trump's campaign was very similar to Le Pen's campaign in France. She lost the election to Macron, who did not represent any of the traditional political parties in France by a wide margin, Why did Le Pen lose the election while Trump won the election in the US? The answer is pretty simple. The Conservative Party in France did not support her in the run off election. Trump won in the US because he was welcomed into the Republican Party with open arms after winning the primary. He had captured the Le Pen portion of the GOP constituency and that was no problem for the rest of the party. The Republican brand was granyed to Trump/Le Pen. Trump won the election because we have a two party system. He is still supported by 87% of registered Republicans. Party identity in the US reigns supreme.