Donald Trump and Authoritarian Followers


This website places at your disposal a free ebook entitled The Authoritarians. I wrote this book in 2006 when a great deal seemed to be going wrong in America, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. (The book is set in that era, but you will have no trouble finding present-day examples of what the experiments found back then.)

Authoritarians did not disappear after George W. Bush left office and the United States avoided financial collapse. Instead they flocked to the Tea Party Movement, which the Republican Party cleverly (it thought) helped create and gathered unto itself. But the movement drove moderates from the GOP and sent radical conservatives to Congress. The “Tea Party Party” produced eight years of non-compromising stalemate in Washington as they imposed their own agenda on the Republican leadership. Now American authoritarians have united behind a presidential candidate who unabashedly says he wants to destroy the traditional Republican Party and deal a devastating blow to the Democrats as well. Is that anything to worry about?

On January 23, 2016 Donald Trump told an enthusiastic audience in Sioux City, Iowa:

The…polls say I have the most loyal people.  Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters. OK? It’s just incredible.

That bit of braggadocio bothers me in three ways:

1) While it is (characteristically) a wild exaggeration, a sizeable percentage of Trump’s supporters probably would continue to support him if he ran the experiment he mentioned.

2) He believes his followers are supremely loyal. Think what that means if he becomes President of the United States.

3) Over 40% of the electorate in November is going to vote for someone who openly revels in the belief that his followers will let him get away with murder. What are these voters thinking?