Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ My author website is here: www.terikanefield.com/ Jul. 15, 2019 3 min read

(Thread) Trump's America

💠Trump tells brown-skinned Congresswomen to go back where they came from
💠The GOP doesn't react
💠The VP and senators can't acknowledge the humanity of refugees👇


How can they be so cruel?
@karen_stenner and @JonHaidt explain.

1/ In their essay, “Authoritarianism is Not a Momentary Madness, but an Eternal Dynamic within Liberal Democracies,” in👇 @karen_stenner and @JonHaidt explain the cruelty we see in the GOP.

They also explain the rise of right wing racism and xenophobia in the US and elsewhere.

2/ What’s happening is what Stenner calls an “authoritarian dynamic,” which occurs when a person with an “authoritarian disposition” is faced with a “normative threat.”

The authors begin by explaining the difference between authoritarians and conservatives.

3/ Conservatives are averse to change. They prefer stability & status quo.

Authoritarians, on the other hand, are averse to complexity (which includes diversity). They prefer sameness and uniformity and have “cognitive limitations.” They're “simpleminded avoiders of complexity.”

4/ Authoritarians value obedience and conformity over freedom and difference.

They have a “bias against different others (racial and ethnic outgroups, immigrants, ‘deviants,’ etc.)

Authoritarianism—according to the authors—is “substantially” heritable.

5/ In other words, they're mostly born that way.

A normative threat is a “threat to the normative order,” or something that threatens “sameness and order."

When confronted with a normative threat, authoritarians have a strong reaction. They become fearful and angry.

6/ They can be violent and tolerate violence in others.

Fear of immigrants isn't fear of lost jobs. It's a discomfort with people who are different.

Trump governs by creating normative threats. He deliberately keeps the authoritarians riled.

7/ Those with authoritarians dispositions make up about 1/3 of the population. This percentage occurs across cultures.

We see that percentage — 1/3— over and over.
The Nazis came to power with 33% of the vote.
Le Pen won 35% of the vote in France.

8/ Someone asked why Trump doesn’t try to expand his base.

Answer: The only way to expand his base is to stop creating normative threats, and he can't stop. He needs to keep his base riled.

It seems to me Trump calculated (shrewdly) that he's better off . . .

9/ . . with 33% stirred to anger and fury, than a larger percentage with his base calmed down.

Never doubt how much damage can be done to democracy if the authoritarians in our midsts are riled to fury.

Now we come to the Authoritarian Dynamic.

10/ Liberal democracy naturally becomes more diverse and complex.

Liberalism, for example, expands voting rights to all people, which creates diversity.

The growing diversity triggers fears in authoritarians, creating the conditions for a demagogue to stir their fears.

11/ Hence, a cycle. As liberalism expands, authoritarians react.

Trump happened because liberal democracy in America exceeded many people’s capacity to tolerate it.

Thus, the current "right wing fervor" engulfing much of the world is not a momentary madness . . .

12/ . . .it sits just beneath the surface of all human societies, including advanced liberal democracies like the U.S. (From Stenner & Haidt)

You may wonder why Trump’s approval rating sits at over 40% 👇Obviously he’s pulling in non-authoritarians.
 https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ 

13/ Hofstadter, in The Paranoid Style in American Politics, explains.

According to Hofstadter, all authoritarian uprisings are enabled by complicit conservatives, who essentially make a bargain with the devil because they think they'll benefit.

This is always a miscalculation.

14/ By "devil" in the "devil's bargain" I meant the demagogue who stirs the authoritarians to anger and cruelty.

Not all conservatives will make this bargain, obviously, hence the large number of Never Trump conservatives who now find themselves without a party.

15/ Stenner and Haidt argue that a proper understanding of the origins and
dynamics of authoritarians—and taking steps to help them feel more comfortable in a nation of growing diversity—can help neutralize the dangers they pose.

end/

All my threads are also blog posts. You can see this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/the-authoritarian-dynamic/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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