Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is the lure of authoritarianism what got Trump elected?

I'm feeling rattled by Facebook, no longer sure if there's any point in sharing serious things there. It was the Trump election that did me in - things just got too weird. But then I see a story like this and I want to share it with people, because it's so damn interesting, so what can I do? When I want to be able to find something that I think is important enough that I'll probably want to track it down later when it's all coming true, I post it here.

The March 2016 piece in Vox  posits the theory that the U.S. is experiencing a rise in authoritarianism among its citizens, and that a guy like Donald Trump was pretty much the dream candidate for a period in time when this authoritarian tendency happens to be in full bloom.

"Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force,"notes the article. 

"They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians' fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms. A candidate like Donald Trump."

As you'll see in the piece, the people trying to figure out how to measure degrees of authoritarianism went with parenting questions. I've got no clue whether that's a valid comparison, but at the very least it does sort respondents into categories of people who think one way or the other. They're quite profound questions when you get to thinking about how you might answer them yourself as a parent.

Read the piece and weep, I guess. Personally, I'd hoped human rights, mutual respect and informed decision-making would get a longer run at being important issues, but things are not looking good for that line of thinking. I'm still struggling to know what to do about any of this, other than to talk about it with literally every person I've come in contact with since Trump got elected. I'm desperate to find pieces that help me understand at least a little more about how this can be happening, and this Vox piece was one of them. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This link is to a quite long piece in a similar vein, posted by George Lakoff in July.