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Trump Is the Authoritarian Ruler Republicans—and Some Dems—Have Been Waiting For

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By John Dean, Justia.com

How far can a truly authoritarian leader go in America?

So far, 500 people have registered with the Federal Elections Commission to run for President of the United States. Needless to say, all but a few of these aspirants lack any chance whatsoever of becoming president. To the surprise of many, Donald Trump has fully registered with the FEC and surfaced as the early leader for the Republicans.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who has a very good crystal ball for predicting presidential contenders and races, has broken the massive GOP want-to-be field into five tiers to establish who is and who is not viable. Professor Sabato’s first tier GOP candidates are (alphabetically): Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. Donald Trump, who is currently leading in the polls, ranks in lowest—or fifth—tier by Professor Sabato, who labels Trump a “gadfly.”

Political pundits everywhere are scratching their heads, asking what is going on with Trump? How can a clown like Trump be in front of the “serious” GOP candidates? Most blame the news media for giving Trump’s antics too much attention. But much more than media attention is at work in explaining Trump’s success. In fact, Donald Trump has emerged as America’s leading authoritarian political figure, representative of a type of leadership for which many Americans yearn.

I looked closely at authoritarians in Conservatives Without Conscience, and the information I developed and shared in 2006 is equally, if not more, relevant today. Actually, Trump is far more aggressive in his authoritarianism than his predecessors. To understand the Trump phenomenon, it is essential to appreciate political authoritarianism, as well as its limits and boundaries.

Political Authoritarians—The Followers

Americans were introduced to “the authoritarian type” in a 1951 book that was controversial from its publication: The Authoritarian Personality by Theodor W. AdornoElse Frenkel-Brunswik, and Daniel J. Levinson. While the book had its flaws, time has also shown much of the analysis was accurate, if not prescient, in explaining this type of personality. When studying these personalities I discovered the later work of an American-born professor at the …read more


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