Saturday, January 30, 2016


Matthew MacWilliams claims that the common characteristic of Trump supporters is authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.
While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.
It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Authoritarianism has always been a strong force in the US, but it can be very dangerous.


August said...

I stopped voting in 2008 when I realized there were no constitutionally legitimate candidate. If they are cheerfully promising to violate it, well there's no point in having them take the oath. Donald isn't much different in that regard, so I have no plans to vote for him.

But Trump is the anti-establishment candidate. He is beating the media at their own game. He is crushing the Republican candidates who have not protected our interests at all.

He is a little authoritarian, but the real issue is he has the money to fight them on their own terms. Elections have just become heavily scripted reality TV shows, and he's rich enough to bring his own script.

The real problem are the authoritarians already in power, already ignoring the constitution, and shooting people. Not clear that Donald would make it any better, but he probably won't make it worse. The other candidates sound like they want to go to war with the whole world; he actually sounds more reasonable.

So I don't think this article really explains anything. We are sick of our elites. Of every single institution failing because diversity or some other social justice issue is more important than actually getting the job the institution was made for done.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure some Trump supporters are authoritarian, but I'm not, and I understand his appeal quite well. He's not Hitler--he's more like Silvio Berlusconi--but it's useful to note that in the US, as in Weimar Germany, the political Left and the cool crowd have been misbehaving with impunity for many years, confident of running rampant forever. Conventional politicians have been unable to make a dent, largely because the news media are part of the power structure and are cohorts of the miscreants. As the Germans were with Hitler, many people are ready for an unconventional leader who isn't afraid to look bad, who just plows ahead no matter what, taking no nonsense from people many average citizens view as political and cultural bullies. As for MacWilliams, he's a grad student who isn't going to get that doctorate if he doesn't say what the University of Massachusetts wants him to say. "Authoritarian" is a curse-word in the US, so if he can put that label on the Trump folks, his dissertation committee will give him the pat on the head he needs to get his degree and start paying off his student debt.