If you're still hoping moderate Republicans step up to stop Donald Trump's worse impulses, it's time to stop, according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
In a new column, Krugman explains how deep the "rot" of the party has gotten, and why there's no graceful way for people like Paul Ryan and Mitch Mcconnell to extricate themselves from the morass.
Krugman says that American democracy is on the line in the midterm elections, and that if Republicans win they may allow Trump to start a push for full-tilt authoritarianism. That's not because they necessarily love authoritarianism, he writes, it's just that they're too scared to step up.
"Most Republican politicians are spineless rather than sinister — or, more accurately, sinister in their spinelessness," he writes. "They’re not really ideologues so much as careerists, whose instinct is always to go along with the party line. And this instinct has drawn them ever deeper into complicity."
Republicans who have stood by Trump until now don't have an incentive to jump ship, he writes.
"Once you’ve made excuses for and come to the aid of a bad leader, it gets ever harder to say no to the next outrage. Republicans who defended Trump over the Muslim ban, his early attacks on the press, the initial evidence of collusion with Russia, have in effect burned their bridges," Krugman writes. "It would be deeply embarrassing to admit that the elitist liberals they mocked were right when they were wrong; also, nobody who doesn’t support Trump will ever trust their judgment or patriotism again."
Read the full column here.