The Richard Hofstadter Drinking Game


"[T]he G.O.P. has been taken over by the people it used to exploit," Paul Krugman warns today:

The state of mind visible at recent right-wing demonstrations is nothing new. Back in 1964 the historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay–


Actually, you could develop a whole multi-trigger drinking game based on anti-Tea Party columns, though it may prove as potentially deadly as the Century Club. In addition to the obligatory Hofstadter reference, tip your glass whenever you read that…

2) Not only are things just like Hofstadter wrote back when interracial marriage was widely outlawed, they're actually worse. (Krugman variation: "But while the paranoid style isn't new, its role within the G.O.P. is.")

3) The real leader of the modern GOP is fill-in-the-blank non-office-holding bogeyman/woman. (Krugman's completism: "Real power in the party rests, instead, with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.")

4) The underlying motivation for tea party Republicans is racism. (Though Krugman fell short [this time], his pagemate Frank Rich delivered the goods Sunday: "Only if [NY-23] were situated in Dixie — or Utah — could it be a more perfect fit for the narrow American demographic where the McCain-Palin ticket had its sole romps last year.")

5) Somehow, despite becoming a regional party of (racist) southern whites, the Republican Party is MORE POWERFUL THAN EVER in thwarting the will of our Enlightenment Democrats. (Krugman: "In California, the G.O.P. has essentially shrunk down to a rump party with no interest in actually governing — but that rump remains big enough to prevent anyone else from dealing with the state's fiscal crisis. If this happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable[.]")

6) Previous generations of Republicans, no matter how evil we said they were at the time, were wise intellectuals compared to the rabble today. (Krugman: "At this point Newt Gingrich is what passes for a sober, reasonable elder statesman of the G.O.P. And he has no authority.")

7) Even though both parties have drastically and unapologetically expanded the size and scope of the federal government (as well as almost all 50 states) over the past decade, the real public-policy crisis bedeviling us today is the fact that conservatives "hate" government. (Today's exemplar is E.J. Dionne: "The media almost never discuss what the sweeping dismantling of public services inherent in the rhetoric of the anti-government movement would mean in practice.")

8) The very Republic is under imminent threat from these ominous, possibly violent right-wing crazies. (Krugman: "[T]he takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it's very bad for America."

Krugman today scores a 6 out of 8 in the Hofstadter Drinking Game, which means you can get a pretty good buzz on. Sure beats reading all 700 words.

I think I'll link to Jesse Walker's "Paranoid Center" piece once a week for the next seven years.