What Trump’s Call to Ban Muslims Is Telling Us About Authoritarian Politics

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Posted in: Politics

Authoritarian leader personality-type and would-like-to-be-president, Donald Trump, after decades in the glare of media attention, instinctively understands exactly how to manipulate the fourth estate better than any political figure in modern America. By being himself, he is taking the country to school on how to dominate public attention with his inflammatory rhetoric, which he intuitively employs through unfiltered social media.

In the event you have been living in a cave, here is a very small sample of his increasingly offensive (to most people) comments. His comments are uniquely representative authoritarian personality behavior, and, in this case, of a man who has managed to place himself on the national stage where we can all better observe an authoritarian at work. This is Trump being himself. (Recently I spoke with an attorney who has been involved in a number of real estate disputes with Trump, over many years, who said Trump acts in a very similar fashion in his business dealings. He insults and belittles opponents, and is an extremely sore loser, whose standard operating procedure is to try to bully and bend the rules his way.)

Trump on Right Wingers. After calling presidential candidate Pat Buchanan a “Hitler lover” in October, 1999, Trump (temporarily) resigned from the Republican Party, hinting he would run for president. Regarding the leading current intellectual at Fox News, Charles Krauthammer, Trump tweeted (June 4, 2015): “One of the worst and most boring political pundits on television is @krauthammer. A totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing the facts.” He continued, “@krauthammer pretends to be a smart guy, but if you look at his record, he isn’t.”

Trump on Women. “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision,” (October 14, 2015). “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America,” (April 16, 2015). Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly raised Trump’s sexist behavior at the first GOP debate on August 6, 2015, reminding him: ”You have called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’, and ‘disgusting animals,” which resulted in his later calling Kelly a “bimbo,” who was bleeding from her “whatever.”

Trump on Immigration. After announcing he would deport some eleven million illegal Mexicans from the United States (“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…”), and building a wall along the southern border of the country (to be paid for by Mexico), he has, in the wake of the ISIL-inspired terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, turned to Muslims. Initially he wanted them all registered in a database, but when his poll numbers softened in Iowa, he toughened his stance, igniting a new news media firestorm.

Trump Outdoing Trump: Most recently, on December 7, 2015, when Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” he lit a fuse he understood would explode worldwide. This is not to say he understood what he was doing, for he is not a person who thinks through his actions, rather trusts his impulses, for he is good at correcting his blunders as he proceeds. Trump did not fully understand what he was doing in calling for a blanket ban that would also prevent American Muslims from returning home. (It appears Trump was unaware that Muslims have been in this country longer than his own family, that they are approaching two percent of our population, that they serve in our military, and they are the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.) So he tweaked his blunder, and without missing a beat, he doubled down on his ban to reach only on “foreign Muslims,” which the New York Times discovered might be constitutional.

Notwithstanding the overreaction of the news media, which included other Republican leaders gently rebuking Trump’s “un-American” and unprecedented religious test for entering the United States, it now appears that rank and file Republicans actually like Trump’s foreign Muslim ban. It appears that Trump was telling Republicans what they wanted to hear, which has only reinforced his position as the GOP front-runner, and has undoubtedly bolstered his confidence in his own instincts and that he can continue to bluff and blunder his way toward the nomination, because he is smarter than everyone else, and he can double talk himself in politics like he has in business, for he is a natural born con man. This is how authoritarian leaders think.

The more rational and experienced Republican Party leaders view it differently. They understand that while Trump’s demagogy might win him the nomination it will not win the general election, and it may destroy the GOP. Not only will the Republican Party stand to lose the White House with Trump as the standard-bearer, but Trump could help them lose one or both houses of Congress.

Frankly, I find Donald Trump’s presidential bid absolutely fascinating for it lays bare the often hidden nature of authoritarian politics. I do not find Trump’s over-the-top and politically dangerous rhetoric threatening, because I am a confident that the sun will rise in the morning and that Trump will never be our nation’s president. But his candidacy is revealing a potentially virulent strain in American politics: authoritarianism.

I wrote in July when Trump became a serious candidate that he is a textbook example of the authoritarian leader personality. He checks off every box on the list of authoritarian traits. As I have explained on other occasions these personalities are typically male; they are dominating; they oppose equality; they are desirous of personal power; they are amoral, intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, and dishonest; they will cheat to win; they are highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, and/or homophobic), mean-spirited, militant, and nationalistic; they tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of “suckers,” and specialize in creating false images to sell themselves. They may or may not be religious, but usually they are both political and economic conservatives and/or Republicans.

Authoritarian leaders, of course, need followers. These are the people who social science describes as authoritarians as well in their willingness to follow such dominating and often blunderbuss leaders. As I explained in July, these followers typically have traits which somewhat mirror those of authoritarian leaders: “authoritarian followers are both men and women, who tend to be highly conventional, always and easily submissive to authority, while willing to work aggressively on behalf of such an authority. They tend to be very religious, with moderate to little education, trusting of untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (e.g., with respect to gay marriage); they are typically mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical of their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive; they also demand loyalty and return it, have little self-awareness, and are typically politically and economically conservative Republicans.”

What is not known, rather can only be roughly estimated, is how many Republicans are actually “authoritarian followers.” I noted in July that from my data collection over the years, “I have come to believe that somewhere between a quarter and half of registered Republicans are authoritarians, not to mention they are the activist base of the party.” There are also a few authoritarian followers in the ranks of the Democrats. In short, there are enough authoritarian personalities in the GOP to nominate Trump. But there are nowhere near enough of these people to elect a such a domineering personality president. To the contrary, for good reason the overwhelming numbers of Americans who vote in presidential elections are fearful of authoritarian leaders like Trump, and they have never been able to appeal to others outside their natural authoritarian base.

One of the fascinating aspects of Trump’s candidacy is the information it is revealing about authoritarian politics. More specifically, Trump’s over-the-top call to at least temporarily ban all foreign Muslims from entering the United States is providing telling data about how many authoritarian followers may reside in the GOP, not to mention a few who call themselves Democrats. It is not unreasonable to believe that those who support Trump’s thoughtless and fear-driven proposal are likely authoritarian follow-the-leader type personalities. (Social science testing shows authoritarian personalities are basically frightened people, which authoritarian leaders instinctively seek to exploit.)

The headlines from the first polling on this issue indicate Trump hit another home run with Republicans: “Bloomberg Politics Poll: Nearly Two-Thirds of Likely GOP Primary Voters Back Trump’s Muslim Ban; More than a third say it makes them more likely to vote for him, according to an online PulsePoll conducted by Purple Strategies on Tuesday.” If these poll numbers can be transposed to indicate the number of authoritarian followers—and there certainly does appear to be a direct correlation—then there may be as many as 65 percent of Republicans who are such personalities. As the Bloomberg polls reveal, however, only 37 percent of all voters supported Trump’s ban, with 75 percent of Democrats flat-out rejecting it.

It must be remembered that Trump’s authoritarian politics are no guarantee he will win the GOP nomination because ALL the Republican presidential candidates are authoritarian leader type personalities. For some GOP authoritarian followers, many of whom are evangelical Christians, Trump’s multi-wives high-living lifestyle may turn them to one of the other candidates, like Ted Cruz, an authoritarian with views closer to their own.

We are going to know a lot more about authoritarian politics when the 2016 presidential race is completed. And Trump’s upfront and out-there authoritarianism has certainly made it more interesting.

Posted in: Politics

Tags: Politics

  • Truth_in_Defense

    John W. Dean’s aspiration and antagonism against the important defense approach that not just Donald Trump (also Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul and Ben Carson) is seriously recommending on the national invasion by islamists, and he clearly does not know the constitution, Article 4, Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

    None of the leftists even know or respect the Republican Form of Government, which they may have no capacity to even legally define.

    And the Legislature did exactly that, passing three laws striking against immigrations of dangerous entities. And there was a key one added in 1952. In 1952, Islam, along with Communism was effectively banned by law. Did you know that? I doubt it.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed June 27, 1952 revised the united States’ laws regarding immigration, naturalization and nationality. This Act, is under Section 313.

    Read more at this site: http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/12/islamists-communists-totalitarians-prohibited-law-immigrating-us/#MbLkBeo6BFdTmdk1.99

    (Alternative Link to this useful site: http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/12/islamists-communists-totalitarians-prohibited-law-immigrating-us/#Kh87bmjgoMRHYJC.01).

    That law has NOT been removed, it is still in place. But of course the White House and the politicians in the last 20 years has pretended it isn’t there…

    And then when they and the left wing media (which is the vast number) try to reject the intentions of the muslims…so that they can try to deny the application of this law…..they need to be re-educated with the facts …right from a major Islamic Scholar…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JJeVLTGYX8

    • You are a nut who understands neither the constitution nor what it means to be a patriotic American. You are a textbook example of the authoritarian Trump follower Dean is talking about.

    • Jonno Wade

      You do understand that the term “republican form of government” that the constitution guarantees refers to the fact that the US is a republic, right? It is not referring to a party affiliation.

      • Lynn Rowe

        Cracks me up when the tRumpters screech that America is “not a democracy!1! It’s a REPUBLIC!!1!”

        Reply: So is China.

        *crickets chirping*

        LOL! Rightwingnuts, tRump supporters in particular, are the dumbest most ignorant MoFos on the planet.

    • Lynn Rowe

      Another fwightened wittle wightwingnut Daddy tRump supporter.

  • Elle

    Oh please, what rubbish. Modern men, now more fully feminized in a culture too greatly influenced by leftist notions of education, decorum and behavior simply can’t deal with more masculine men like Trump. Modern ideals of a modern male in tight biker pants, working in the tech industry, sipping lattes at Starbucks and reading the New Yorker are far more “acceptable” than obtuse men like Trump. But for many of us, Trump says what he means, he rep[resents real success and because he is the total opposite of the metro-sexual currently occupying the White House, we love and respect Trump all the more. Donald is like a huge middle finger extended to the elite and effete liberals that sadly so dominate our culture. GO DONALD!!!!!!

    • I bet you get wet just fantasizing how he will abuse your rights.

    • Kangalanatolian

      We really should care less about his masculinity here. This is policy that will affect the future of our nation. Please if you only look at the cause and result of Muslim increases through out the world you would have just a clue as to what is going on.

      If you read at the Quran concerning the treatment of non-Muslims you know what is in store. What the Muslim Indonesians did to the Christians of East Timor in the 70s and the 90s is the most recent large scale example – which was most definitely NOT a false flag event.

      • Lynn Rowe

        Bully thug dipshit morons is NOTHING whatsoever to do with any “masculinity”. And YOU, hon, have NEVER read the Qur’an OR the bible. You just regurgitate the bullshit that’s been spoon-fed to you. Which makes you…well…not very intelligent. FACT-CHECKING via LEGIT sources is a good thing to do; try it sometime.

    • Reynardine

      Masculine? Even in my prime– and his– I wouldn’t have effed him on a drunken barroom bet.

    • Lynn Rowe

      As the fwightened tRump-supporting wingnut quotes tRump, LOL!

      To vote for a man who says “Americans MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY” already demonstrates intense and deep stupidity, let alone all the rest.

  • Marcus Brutus

    He is asking for a stay on immigration, not a ban.

    • Jonno Wade

      Easy to be confused since ‘ol Donald used the word “ban” himself. But, since he is so great at fully explaining everything he says, we should have known that right? Oh, sorry, I forgot to turn off the sarcasm function on my keyboard. Trump is purposefully vague in everything he says so that he can easily backtrack and say that someone else is misconstruing his words when it comes time to define and refine the finer points of anything. He learned this technique and many other ways of making the other party hear what they want to hear, and thus leave the final results open ended until it is too late for the other party. In the end many parties in his business dealings have found themselves looking at contracts that were very different then their understanding of how negotiations were going. Trump has said so himself many times, and bragged about his ability to do this. Why would anyone trust this man that admits to doing business this way?

    • Lynn Rowe

      No hon, he said BAN. Did you just hear only what you wanted to? You’re in for one fck of a big surprise if so.

  • Frank Willa

    In my view there is another categorization of this group of people that seem to comprise this about 40% of people. It is that they have not psychologically developed as fully mature adults; their development was “arrested in adolescence”, thus they have the emotional maturity of children. They are fearful, and seek the authority of those that promise to give them the security they lack. They find comfort and assurance in the bombastic bravado, the oversimplifications, and the hostility. Just as when a child is overwhelmed and no longer can formulate a rational “adult” response in an interaction- it strikes out physically. Given this mind set it is essentially impossible to reason with them- they lack the processes to consider in a reasonable adult way; e.g. the adamant stance regarding climate change, no matter what evidence is presented
    As the Republican party has moved away from the center- starting in 1981- it has looked toward these Authoritarian types. We were told to look up to some, and down on others. The innovators were better than the rest of us, we should be grateful to those who provided capital without whom the rest of us would be lost…etc. As the Republicans moved, and moved the country to the far right the race to the extreme has brought us to the current group of conservative candidates. In my view this era began extolling the “Trump” entrepreneur types as a model; and hopefully the current candidacy will mark the end of the era. It is time for the Republicans to recast themselves, rejecting the “government is the problem” extremism, and find their way back to the sensible middle of mostly moderates like they were in the 1950s.

    • gba273

      BINGO!! My best friend from high school is exactly the type you describe.
      He was that way then and he’s that way now, Oh, by the way, we’re 66 y/o.

      He’s my most enduring friendship. I’m one of his very few current friends.
      He never moved out of his parent’s house, ruining their lives as well as his own. They’re gone now and he’s the grumpy old man on the corner.

      He provides me with great entertainment.

      • Frank Willa

        It seems good that you can keep him in perspective. In my view it is these “Baby Boomers” that caused the political shift to the “hard right the starting 1-20-81. Ironically they only want to double down on “supply-side” economic/political policies that have left them feeling threatened. In my view they are their own worst enemy- they thought and so wanted “people thrown out of the lifeboat” and now it them that are drowning.

    • CripesAmighty

      You are correct. Dr. Bob Altemeyer (univ. of Manitoba), considered by many the worlds leading expert on authoritarians, does indeed recognize that many of the traits of authoritarianism are rooted in emotional immaturity. His book, ‘The Authoritarians’ (available free online) is regarded as the seminal work on the subject.

      • Frank Willa

        Yes, my notion was to shine light on why these folks are they way they are; only then can people prevent them from imposing their limitations on everyone else.

    • beulahmo

      I believe you correctly discerned another psychological dimension of the authoritarian “follower” personality — the arrested emotional and moral development that makes it impossible to communicate with them through reasoning processes that yield well-considered debate. But I am interested in (and bummed out by) your estimation that they comprise 40% of the population. What is your rationale for that number?

      • Frank Willa

        I have thought that the 40% of the population that are the core of the Republican party are comprised of these types. My view comes from the “bell-shaped” curve of social sciences and psychology; traits occur along the continuum; the distribution dividing in the middle, those “truly” in the middle exhibit traits of both sides- 10% or 15% , and so the conservative/ liberal split is about 40% on either side.
        History seems to be a series of “forward/ progressive eras countered by backward/regressive eras; reflecting the liberals dominating vs. the conservatives. This follows the common notion that liberals are broad and open minded( forward ) and conservatives are narrow and close minded ( backward ).

        • beulahmo

          Got it. This is a compelling rationale — would love to see it actually tested for validity! This subject is fascinates me, even if it does scare me a bit. 40% is a lot! If it’s an accurate number, I hope the human race is evolving in a way that indicates that number is gradually decreasing.

          Thanks for your reply.

  • Victor Grunden

    The authoritarian definition fits every elected official and most bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and every level of government. The length of time people stay in office and totally ignore the wishes of the electorate except for those few that can keep them in power illustrates this. At least Trump recognizes the danger from within and without which the current leaders seem unable to do. Should any of Trump’s solution work, they would be front and center taking credit for success.

    • Upaces

      To your last sentence….Of course they would!!

  • create14all

    Simply put, Donald Trump is a greedy person and he appeals to that segment of population. The polling is despairing to the fair minded, but we must keep in mind that 30% of 25% of the voting population is only 12.5% of the voting population. If this rallies fair minded people to vote, then the consequence would be a positive one, for there should be no way in hell fair minded voters will vote for the devil.

    His followers are the greedy ones if there does turn out to be a majority of greedy voters, I think Ross Perot put it best, you will hear a giant sucking sound; that will be people leaving this country. The fact that he is willing to be the butt of politics will keep the entertainment industry fully utilizing their marketing departments and we will have endure this until the the final election results.

    Once he secures the Republican nomination his rhetoric will shift left and that will be the problem to watch out for. Hitler wa elected we must vote and vote out the greedy politicians. The law must then be changed to allow everyone of voting age the right (better yet the obligation) to vote.

  • What I most want to know is WHY the Donald and his supporters are so eager to play the game on THEIR terms. Rather than seeking to unify all Muslims against the infidels, smarter people would seek to divide and weaken the enemy. If America as led by the Donald actually manages to foment an all-out war against the 1.6 billion Muslims out there, it will surely bankrupt the nation. Seems a bit soon to forget again Afghanistan (again).

    The deeper problem is that Wahabi extremist terrorism is coming from our ostensible friends. At least they seem friendly while they are selling us the oil, and no president has been able to keep them from using those profits for religious purposes we should be concerned about…

    P.S. Not surprised to see the attacks from the authoritarian witch hunters in response to the post. If they were more capable of introspection, they might realize how they are helping to prove John Dean’s point.

    • CripesAmighty

      Self-awareness is a trait lacking in authoritarian followers They are simple, nasty, greedy and stupid. Authoritarian leaders are all of the aforementioned minus ‘stupid’, and thus use these traits to manipulate them.

  • Lynn Rowe

    And if God forbid the likes of Donald “Fascist” tRump wins the WH, Americans can sit confused and dazed down the road while they wonder “how did we let that happen?” and chant “Never again!”.

  • Mike

    I love a man who fights conservatism, and I respect a man who rises to the top of his field, but I still have to ask “What does the master manipulator of the Watergate cover up know about the psychology of authoritarians?”

    Oh, asked and answered. Never mind.

  • TheBostonian1991

    America laughed at the antics of Berlusconi? Just you wait until Trump gets to the WH… You will get used to grand follies crashing down, a festival of executive changes and, eventually, gridlock…