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Why Trump Voters are Slaves to Authoritarianism

Monday, March 21st, 2016

trumpangerNothing that has been or will be said about Donald Trump has or will dissuade his supporters from voting for the narcissistic New York developer and TV star: their fealty is based on a visceral response to Trump’s virulent, nativistic, protectionist, pie-in-the-sky message.

There’s no other way to explain people who are not turned away when their candidate, asked with whom he is consulting on foreign policy, replies:  “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

All that good reporting, analysis and commentary can accomplish is to provide the information that might prevent those flirting with voting for The Donald from falling into the authoritarian abyss that is Trump World.*

What has become clear is that Trump’s appeal is less political than it is sociological. “Left” and “right” apply only marginally, which is why reporters consistently find people torn between voting for ultra-capitalist Donald Trump or democratic socialist Bernie Sanders – a choice that at first blush is so illogical as to be unbelievable.

nazipartySpringtime for The Donald Until you remember that the group to which Adolph Hitler was elected chairman in July 1921 was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party – the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

Now, Bernie Sanders – himself a Jew — is about as far removed from the Nazi Party as one could imagine. But whether or not Donald Trump is actually a fascist – and there are solid arguments pro and con – one thing appears to be true about his supporters: they are authoritarians.

Turns out four simple questions about child rearing – posed in a reputable survey of 1,800 registered voters nationwide – provide the most statistically significant data regarding Trump supporters.

Matthew MacWilliams, founder of MacWilliams Sanders, a political communications firm, and a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, asked voters:

fingerwaggingWhether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is 1) respectful or independent; 2) obedient or self-reliant; 3) well-behaved or considerate; and 4) well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

We’re All Americans Now: That’s not to say other classical survey questions tell us nothing about Trump supporters. As Neil Irwin and Josh Katz explained in the New York Times, analysis of U.S. Census data “shows that Trump counties are places where white identity mixes with long-simmering economic dysfunctions.”

The most highly correlated characteristics of Trump voters? They are whites with no high school diploma, who hold “old economy jobs,” live in mobile homes and report their ethnicity as “American.”

hoganamericanWhen the Census Bureau asks Americans about their ancestors, some respondents don’t give a standard answer like “English” or “German.” Instead, they simply answer “American.”

The places with high concentrations of these self-described Americans turn out to be the places Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has performed the strongest…

The places where Trump has done well cut across many of the usual fault lines of American politics — North and South, liberal and conservative, rural and suburban. One element common to a significant share of his supporters is that they have largely missed the generation-long transition of the United States away from manufacturing and into a diverse, information-driven economy deeply intertwined with the rest of the world

Trumpism — A Toxic Mixture of Malevolence, Testosterone and Narcissism: Other analysts have shown that Trumpism is most successful where unemployment is higher than the national average and where the minority population is higher – not that Trump is getting minority voters (he’s getting hardly any) but these are places where lower-income, less-educated white voters feel most threatened.

Trump’s appeal to authoritarian impulses is well documented. As Charles E.W. Cooke wrote in the National Review:

Hitler-TrumpSince he announced his candidacy, Trump has threatened to ignore those who are carping about free speech and shut down parts of the Internet; he has promised to summarily deport those who are suspected of being illegal immigrants, without due process of law; he has endorsed extensive campaign-finance regulations that fly directly in the face of the First Amendment; he has vowed to restrict the Second Amendment rights of those on the terror watch list, again without due process; he has praised Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens, suggested that natural-born Americans can be deported against their will, and proposed that American Muslims be barred from reentering the country; he has described as “wonderful” a Supreme Court ruling that obliterated the “public use” limitations on the invocation of eminent domain; and he has refused to rule out registering Americans on the basis of their faith.

All that before calling for ”opening up the libel laws” (threatening the First Amendment) and promising to pay legal bills for supporters who punch protesters at his events, saying he’d like to smack a protester in the mouth and in myriad other way urging  his crowds to violence, turning his public gatherings into Brown Shirt rallies.

He’s now begun threatening that if he is denied the nomination in Cleveland, his supporters would likely riot – his own Cleveland Kristallnacht.

To borrow from Edmund Burke, all that is required now for Trump’s evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

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Trumpism — a toxic mixture of malevolence, testosterone and narcissism masquerading as a political world view