Mathew Lowry

So you think “President Trump” is the worst case scenario?

The rise of American authoritarianism provides the best article I’ve read explaining the Rise of Trump, even if it’s a bit longer than previous favourites. It covers psychological research into authoritarianism, the profile characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders:

“People who score high in authoritarianism … look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear… authoritarianism seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator”.

The rise of American authoritarianism, Amanda Taub, Vox

Seriously, go and read it. Now. Then come back here.

The real story lies in the electorate

You’re back? Then I hope you agree that the analyses in Taub’s report are useful because while most coverage of Trump-the-Candidate is about his numerous WTF!??! He didn’t just say that, did he!??!?” moments, the real story lies in the electorate.

Trump didn’t mass-lobotomise the American public. He simply tapped a hidden, ugly, underestimated, disenfranchised and disillusioned part of it and did what no other candidate dared to do: he gave it a voice. And he wasn’t pilloried for it – quite the opposite. So it’s here to stay.

Which is why it’s not Trump which scares me most.

Because Trump-the-Individual is, let’s face it, a bit of a buffoon. He may or may not come unstuck during his campaign – God, I hope he does – but whether he self-destructs in the White House or before he gets there, the real damage has already been done: he’s shifted the goalposts on what’s acceptable in the public sphere.

It’s not just Trump uttering the unutterable and winning votes – all the US Republican candidates have started saying things unimaginable just 4 years ago.

Is Europe at last leading the US at something?

So it’s only a matter of time Europe’s quasi-fascist demagogues take a leaf from that playbook.

In fact, maybe they were ahead of Trump. You may have forgotten France’s National Front’s success in last year’s regional elections, because they didn’t actually break through. But only because the other parties banded together – exactly the sort of manoeuvre that the disenfranchised and disillusioned loathe, and which eventually makes their anti-establishment groundswell stronger.

My overwhelming memory from France’s regional elections were the manicured middle class voters on my nightly news, explaining that they no longer felt ashamed of telling friends and family that they support the National Front. They’ve achieved a New Normal.

And that, to be frank, scares the hell out of me. American Nazis are, like Trump, a bit of a joke. European fascists are far more intellectual, far more professional, and No Laughing Matter At All.

Plus: I live here.

Further reading

Among the resources tagged Trump on my Hub I particularly recommend:

Some of these are also tagged psychology – as are almost 60 resources, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

I share resources like these on my Hub (almost) every day and (in theory) every fortnight via my newsletter – why not subscribe?

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