Teri Kanefield
+ Your AuthorsArchive @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ NBC News Opinion contributor Impeachment notes: impeachment-trump.com/ Mar. 20, 2019 5 min read

(Thread) Why the Far Right has so much success

DC asks this:

Recall that the GOP has been taken over by RWAs (right wing authoritarians:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318260321_The_Right-Wing_Authoritarianism_Scale )

RWAs have personality characteristics that enable them to seize power beyond their numbers.

1/ (If you missed my thread how the GOP became authoritarian, it's here: )

Reason #1: RWAs tend to fall in line.

RWAs “favor obedience and conformity (oneness and sameness) over freedom and difference."  https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/02ff25_40e690acdf144109a69c80d724e45526.pdf 

2/ A group that falls in line will have an easier time staying on message.

Liberals, on the other hand, are comfortable with nuance, complexity, and diversity.

They don’t give up their individuality for the sake of the group. They don't naturally fall in line behind a leader.

3/ Liberals tend to splinter. They thus have a harder time staying on message.

Reason #2: RWAs are willing to cheat and break rules.

They'll overlook bad behavior in exchange for a strong leader that invites conformity.

@Maxboot wrote this astonishing sentence:

4/ It’s becoming common for Trump supporters to say “I don’t care what he’s done” 👇

I assume "personal life" means more than paying off porn stars and thereby cheating in an election: It means cheating on taxes and breaking rules in his way to grab power.

5/ Reason #3: It’s easier to tear something down than preserve it.

Trump & pals friends seek to dismantle our government, which includes our democratic institutions.

Liberal democracy leads to diversity, which they dislike.

RWA used to be called “anti-Democratic personality.”

6/ Hofstadter👇describe “status anxiety and “overaggressive” politics, that occurs when a dominant group feels an “existential threat” (fear of losing dominant status)

Hahn, Kim & Sivan call this a “crisis of legitimacy.”

7/ When the government protects “others” over “real” Americans, they don’t think the government works for them and they want to destroy it.

“Deep State” = government that they think puts the rights of "others” over them.

So they want to destroy the “deep state.”

8/ From @jasonintrator: They see democracy as corrupt because it requires concessions to different groups, and see compromising with out-groups as “corruption.”

Every fascist campaign is an “anti-corruption” campaign. “Drain the swamp” is from Mussolini.

9/ This is why scholar Christopher Browning calls Mitch McConnell the “gravedigger” of democracy.  https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/10/25/suffocation-of-democracy/ 

This desire to destroy is why they accept all Trump's lies, even when they know he’s lying.

They understand that lies destroy.

10/If you missed my article on Trump’s lying👇  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/trump-lies-kavanaugh-khashoggi.html 

Reason #4: People willing to lie have an advantage.

Playing by the rules has a disadvantage.

Harvard Profs. Levitsky and Ziblatt explain why defenders of democracy must follow rules and norms. . .

11/ Otherwise all sides will be torpedoing democracy.

Fighting fire with fire burns the place down.

Reason #5: Anti-democratic leaders learn from each other. And the tactics are not hard.

In fact, it's easy: Create crisis and spectacle:

12/ Trump learns from Putin. I'm pretty sure Bolsonaro takes his cues from Trump. The world's anti-democratic leaders stay in lockstep for all the reasons given so far.

Reason #6: Because RWAs dislike complexity, they embrace chants, slogans, and catchwords.

13/ Messages are more effective when repeated and simple.

Advertisers calls them catch phrases: Got milk? Where’s the Beef?

Psychologist Robert Zajonc calls it the “mere-exposure effect.”

14/ The repetition of a simple message leads to acceptance of that message:

Liberals get bogged down in nuance and complexity.
Nuance and complexity doesn’t work well in sound bites.

The choice of “No Collusion!” as a catchphrase was clever.

15/ Collusion has no precise meaning & doesn’t describe what happened in 2016.

But it's catchy. It’s easy to remember. It’s slippery enough so that it’s hard to argue against.

"Witch Hunt" is also effective.

This poll is a bit misleading, but still:

16/ A lot of people believe it.

It doesn't matter how many guilty pleas & guilty verdicts come out of the Mueller probe, or how many Trump campaign staff coordinated with Russia.
Trump will shout "No Collusion" and "Witch Hunt!" and his followers will take up the cry.

17/ Liberals respond by launching into a detailed discussion about the many contacts and coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia, etc, and all the evidence we’ve seen of criminal wrongdoing.

They refute lies with facts. This is good. But there is a disadvantage. . .

18/ A lie can be told in a seconds.
Refusing the lie with facts can take hours.

That's how Trump keeps the liberals busy 24-7 playing Whack-A-Lie.

I suggested we stop playing Whack-A-Lie, and a good liberal said this👇

Can’t we be truthful AND be better at politics?

19/ I’m old enough to remember when Dukakis worked hard to be precise with facts, and George H. Bush made him look like an out-of-touch egghead.

Social scientist tell us that 33% of the population is authoritarian.
We’ll never reach that 33% (so please don’t bother trying).

20/ Right now Trump has 41% approval. We need to reach that 8%.

42% will let him survive his presidency. If he drops to 35%, he’ll be poison, even in the GOP.

If you want to break out of the liberal nuance-and-complexity-loving bubble . . .

21/ How about answering with catchphrases that are both true and effective.

How about answering “No Collusion!” and "Witch Hunt!" with “Trump cheats! Cheating is BAD.”

Go ahead and give them facts, but keep shouting: “Trump cheats! Cheating is BAD.”

22/ RWAs have lots of advantages, but don’t worry:

Those in favor of liberal democracy👇 have one huge advantage: There are more of us.

That’s why, even though we splinter and have trouble inventing catchphrases and staying on message—we manage to win a lot of the time.

23/ The arc of history bends toward greater justice—but slowly and with great effort —and always with setbacks provided by the RWAs.


*should have said CAN bend toward greater justice. It depends on what we do.

Here is today's thread as a blogpost.  https://terikanefield-blog.com/why-the-far-right-has-so-much-success/ 

The nice thing about my blogposts is that I can correct the errors, expand the sentences, and strive for more—well, you know—nuance.

You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.


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