Trump and Authoritarianism

I’ve written before about Trump as a candidate,  arguing that he represents a frightening trend in American politics toward an interest in “doers,” those who want to exert their will on the political stage to “get things done” despite the constitutional and republican (little-R) barriers designed to prevent such singular action. While I’m sure I used to word “authoritarian” in that post, I used it in the general sense, rather than in its political science sense, which is detailed nicely in this video from Vox. (And, as a brief aside, I’m not uncritical of Vox as a news organization–I think their bias especially in terms of 2A issues is far too strong–but this analysis is sharp and to the point.)

In this brief video, reported Amanda Taub does a nice job of walking through what authoritarianism means in the political science world, looking at some of the research on its increasing traction with the American public and the Republican Party in particular, and talking about some of the possible trajectories this trend might take. This problem of authoritarianism, the urge for a strong leader to “get things done,” is a very real one in this country (and in the world, really), and an easier pattern of thought to fall into than one might think. I’m reminded of another old post I wrote about the hard work of being human–that we must resist the path of least mental/intellectual resistance, and that includes the thought-path that leads to authoritarianism. The question becomes, I think, how to show people the value of doing the hard mental work, and not to fall prey to black-and-white thinking.


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