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Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics
Marc J. Hetherington, Jonathan D. Weiler
Cambridge University Press
Paperback, 234 pages, $23.16
Kindle edition 9.99
August, 2009

Money quote:

Considering our story up to now, we believe we have adduced powerful evidence for the increasingly central role that authoritarianism has come to play in structuring party competition, mass preferences and the relevant issue agenda of the past forty years.

Basic premise: Polarization in the electorate can be seen as a consequence of worldview, with more authoritarian voters favoring selected candidates perceived as being "tougher" or stricter, and with authoritarian and non-authoritarian voters having such different worldviews that passionate disagreement and polarization ensues even when political differences are small. It applies between parties (Bush v Kerry) and intraparty (H. Clinton v Obama.)

Authors: Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler are academics, Hetherington in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt and Weiler in International Studies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Hetherington has previously authored Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism and co-authored Parties, Politics, and Public Policy In America. Weiler has authored Human Rights in Russia, and blogs at Weilerblog.

Readability/quality: This is an absorbing read, though it is best tackled chapter by chapter to absorb the numerous charts, tables and references. The authors have tried to make this accessible to the general audience while keeping a scholarly tone, and mostly succeeded. The thesis is heavily supported by empirical data, which makes it especially impressive.

Who should read it: political junkies; anyone interested in understanding why the 2008 Democratic primary aroused such passions (my favorite chapter in the book); anyone trying to predict how the oil spill crisis will play out politically; David Broder, Lanny Davis, and anyone else who really wants to understand what happened to bipartisanship.

----

Interview with the author (Jonathan D. Weiler – jweiler – will be available on line here for questions between 9 and 10 am ET):

Daily Kos: Your book is about authoritarianism, not so much in the persona of a particular candidate but rather in the worldview of the voting constituents. You also distinguish between authoritarianism and conservatism and note it can cut across parties in surprising ways, leading to significant polarization. Have you an easy definition of what you mean by authoritarianism?"

Jonathan D. Weiler: Most succinctly, we mean by authoritarianism a tendency to see the world in simple, clear, black and white terms in support of a social order that prefers sameness and uniformity over diversity and difference. It also tends to prefer the concreteness of military conflict over the subtleties of diplomacy.  A tendency to disdain complexity and nuance and to evince intolerance of outgroups are typical (though, of course not universal) features of authoritarian-minded individuals. 

The polarization we've argued is now under way is a product of the degree to which this particular worldview, once broadly distributed between the parties, has now increasingly found a home in one party, the Republican Party. And to emphasize, we also identify a non-authoritarian worldview, one characterized by a preference for thinking in shades of gray and privileging diversity and difference over sameness and uniformity. That worldview, likewise, was once more broadly distributed between the two parties and has increasingly gravitated toward one party, the Democrats.  

To be clear, we don't argue that all authoritarians are Republicans and all non-authoritarians are Democrats. But the degree to which they've sorted themselves out between the parties, in response to historical events and the way the political parties have crafted their appeals to voters, makes this particular dimension - one's level of authoritarianism - a powerful explanation of people's political preferences.

Daily Kos: One of the more fascinating examples of authoritarianism leading to polarization was the 2008 presidential primary (you devote a full chapter to it in the book), with similar ideologies between the candidates but passionate differences between the supporters? Where’s the passion gone in 2010? How has this particular dynamic evolved?"

Weiler: I think the dissolution of passion in 2010 is a product of the dissolution of the dynamics that drove the intensity in 2008 - the desire to boot out the incumbent party from the White House after eight years, the presence of two very dynamic, impressive candidates, but also the fact that they displayed dramatically different styles, offering a contrast not in policy terms, (there was very little daylight between Obama's and Hillary's positions in 2008, save on health care and, of course, the recently-passed bill reflects Hillary's position more than Obama's) but in terms of how they framed issues, the words they used, the sensibilities they projected. My guess is that a fair number of those more authoritarian-minded Hillary voters would not have voted for Obama against McCain and that a larger number, who did, quickly came to have buyer's remorse, as they were unhappy with the status quo but were never comfortable with Obama for a variety of reasons. 

Of course, Obama has also disappointed a lot of progressives - his too-cozy approach to the financial sector, his complete reversals on campaign pledges concerning national security/civil liberties issues (which he hasn't even tried to defend) and, more broadly, his failure to articulate a clear vision for how America, under his guidance, can be a better place from a progressive perspective (more inclusive, more fair, more just) than it was before he took office. All of this has surely sapped a lot of pro-Obama passion. But anti-Obama passion, certainly on the right, is driven, I believe, by some of the authoritarian dynamics as we describe them - most clearly evinced in the Tea Party movement, which has largely reduced criticism of Obama to its most elemental, simple, broad and visceral terms - that Obama represents an alien ideology and agenda that is destroying the traditional social order in America.

Daily Kos: Throughout the book, you use scholarly reference, but also frequently cite political reporting to illustrate examples of how worldview plays out. But reporters and journalists have their own narrative, which they use to contextualize their reporting. "Washington is broken," or "Obama is like [fill in past President]". Do you see the same dynamic in reporting as you see in the voting patterns of constituent groups?"

Weiler: What I find most notable about reporting from the perspective of authoritarianism's role in polarization is the degree to which he-said/she-said reporting really precludes American political journalism from providing any context for how extreme the base of one political party has become. Of course, I am going to sound like a rabid partisan myself when I say that, but so be it. If you think about the kinds of things Sarah Palin repeatedly said during the 2008 campaign  - from drill, baby, drill, to "real Americans," to repeated overheated warnings about Obama and socialism, and then on to her post-campaign rhetoric, including death panels, etc, it's extraordinary really. This is not some fringe person, but a woman with a major political following who was the vice-presidential nominee of a major political party. And if you think about the heroes of the most vocal elements of the GOP today, the Tea Party (and yes, I regard them as a passionate faction of the GOP, not a meaningful alternative to either party), folks like Glenn Beck, who are trumpeting the most absurd, outlandish stuff imaginable, it's quite extraordinary that political journalism still acts as if the center of gravity of our political discourse can simply be calibrated in the same way as always. The Democrats say this, the Republicans say that, and the truth must be somewhere in the middle. 

I heard Joe Scarborough, who passes for reasonable these days on the right, say the other day that he found Rand Paul too extreme in his views of the role of government in exactly the same way that he found Paul Krugman too extreme - one never wanting government involvement, the other always wanting it. This was, in a nutshell, what I'm talking about. Paul Krugman is, despite his emergence as a major liberal pundit, a completely conventional economist - not a Marxist or a socialist in any historically valid understanding of those terms - a believer in the way markets function that is in line with the (pro-capitalist) profession as a whole and a famous supporter of things like free trade. In a crisis, of the sort we're now in, yes, he prefers a Keynesian approach. But the idea that his view of the relationship between the government and the economy is the polar opposite of Rand Paul's is just absurd.

Political journalism has failed miserably in contextualizing the changing center of gravity in political discourse, including (though not limited to) its failure to apprehend the increasing authoritarianism of the GOP.

Daily Kos: Millennials are different than their elders. How do they fit in with your overall thesis? Will uncertain times push them to be more authoritarian in outlook?

Weiler: It's a good question. Though we don't come right out and say it (because we just don't know), we think that people's worldviews are a product, to some significant degree, of pretty deeply ingrained personality dimensions. That said, there has long been a discussion in the literature on authoritarianism that people's breadth of experience can change their outlooks.  

As it relates to young people, it seems most likely to cut in two different directions.  Having been exposed to diversity of varying kinds - ethnicity, inter-racial dating, sexuality – they are going to be much less likely to feel threatened by things in the social policy sphere than, say, their parents.  So they are going to be unlikely to find the conservative position on issues like this particularly attractive in the future.

The effects of authoritarianism in the foreign policy world might be different. Crisis and uncertainty, we believe, push most people toward more authoritarian thinking. But, even so, that tends to be a temporary phenomenon.  In the short run, elites might be able to take advantage of the role that 9/11 has played in this generation’s lives.  But, absent another attack, this cohort’s opinions ought to snap back to usual.

A key point here is that we do not really think that different generations will possess significantly different levels of authoritarianism.  But their preferences on issues might be "authoritarian", even among those who by disposition aren’t particularly authoritarian, if they feel a significant amount of threat from the world around them.

The underlying, more lasting dynamics associated with the rapid changes taking place in America may be more relevant in the long run to the political worldviews of the millennials. Of course, the fact that we will become a so-called majority/minority nation in the next thirty years or so, certainly has profound implications for the role that authoritarianism will play in our politics.  But the key point here is that millennials will, on average, be less concerned about such changes than prior generations because they are less threatened by diversity, having grown up with more of it.

Daily Kos: Rand Paul, Sarah Palin and the tea party are newer phenomenon, but spark intense polarization. Would you comment on how they fit in to the authoritarian and polarization idea?

Weiler: I think Palin is pretty straight-forwardly everything we talk about when we describe an authoritarian worldview and I think we'll find, once we have the data, a very powerful relationship between authoritarians and tea party support. Paul is, perhaps, a bit more complicated, though I suspect that he will end up being a more conventionally right-wing politician appealing to the kinds of things that more authoritarian-minded folks care about. Take militarism. Yes, he's said he would not have voted for the war in Iraq. But he's also running TV ads emphasizing that national defense is the number one responsibility of government and highlighting how pro-military he is. His views on defense procurement are actually pretty good from a progressive perspective (at least according to one interview on his website), but I will be very surprised if he spends much time, if any, emphasizing that part of his program. What he will present to voters will be a pretty clear appeal to a traditional authority, in this case the constitution and a sovereign people under God, with a dog-whistle racial politics (like the flap over his views on the civil rights act), plus views on things like gay marriage that will appeal to social conservatives and authoritarian-minded voters.

Daily Kos: Does this oil spill and overall trend of difficult to solve problems bode well for the GOP in November in terms of driving voters to a more authoritarian worldview?

Marc, my co-author, has done very well-respected work on trust in government. I think the overall decline in trust toward government, and disdain for its performance will be what really hurts the Democrats in the Fall, as Marc has shown quite clearly that trust tracks with support for liberal policies and lack of it tracks with support for the GOP and its agenda.  

Authoritarians tend to be, by nature, distrustful people.  What we have found most interesting is what seems to underlie that distrust, cynicism, and anger about Obama’s government.  Health care is not an issue that has very often had much to do with race.  But people’s opposition to it became highly racialized during the health care debate.  Images of Obama wearing a loin cloth with a bone through his nose were everywhere.  Racial epithets were hurled at African-American members of Congress on the eve of the vote.  What seems to be new about the distrust in government we are seeing, then, is a real racial animus at its core, which interacts with declining trust in a way that will create a potent vote against Democrats. This isn't to prognosticate the outcome of the 2010 mid-terms, but crisis, uncertainty and distrust certainly will push people in a more authoritarian direction, other things being equal.

Daily Kos: Thank you, Jonathan D. Weiler.
 

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:00 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We're Penned Inside the Greatest Propaganda (17+ / 0-)

    machine in human history, and we have the institutional powers of the entire global economy and culture reasonably well allied in formal institutional efforts to take command of all aspects of the country, and we're going to analyze the situation as a phenomenon of voter personality types?

    In the words of the great James Bond, what looney bin did they let these guys out of?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:05:44 AM PDT

  •  Authoritarianism (9+ / 0-)

    is for clueless wimps who can't function on their own and can't think for themselves. Decry big government, then wail for help or not even realize they're already getting help FROM the govt. Pathetic losers, make up your so-called minds.

    Mr President, eleven billion dollars a month spent here at home would solve everything.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:16:21 AM PDT

  •  see if I'm getting this right... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, GreenSooner, Kimball Cross

    So the argument isn't that, in general, authoritarianism is becoming more common, but that it is becoming more salient as a distinction between the two political parties.

    This argument fits nicely (at least superficially) with other things out there. Right now I'm thinking about two articles by Bolce and De Maio on the importance of attitudes toward "Christian fundamentalists." About the time that Pat Buchanan started raging about culture war on national TV, seculars started veering toward the Democratic Party (indirectly spawning countless DKos threads about attitudes toward religion).

    Authoritarianism always was a squishy concept. I wonder to what extent a belief in binary right-and-wrong is separable from support for a conformist social order.

    •  authoritarianism (16+ / 0-)

      There certainly is a relationship between binary right/wrong thinking and support for a conformist social order. The key here, I think, is a cognitive impulse to see the world in simple black and white connected to an aversion to uncertainty. And it manifests itself in political messaging that is increasingly simplistic.

      •  One thing this review didn't stress (11+ / 0-)

        is the great selfishness promoted in political neoconservatism.

        Since Reagan's inauguration, we have seen American culture and politics swing hard to a glorification of an ethic of hyper-individualism, over and above any notion of a collective good or shared well-being. One clear example of this is the widespread, persistent attacks we've seen in recent decades on the funding of public infrastructure with tax money. Many politicians have made careers promoting the idea to voters, "What good are parks/public schools/public transportation to you, personally, anyway? Why should you have to pay for them?"

        •  hyper-individualism (8+ / 0-)

          You raise a good point. I think the relationship between individualism and authoritarianism is complicated. I think plenty of more authoritarian-minded individuals want to feel that they are a part of something larger than themselves. Here's where trust in government might come into play. If you are mistrustful and things seem to be breaking down all around you, you may become especially disdainful of government efforts to help other people (especially those who don't look like you). But I don't think it follows from that that at all times and places more authoritarian-minded folks just want to say, "screw everybody." Look at the generosity of plenty of evangelical churches, for example.

          •  generosity of evangelical churches (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kimball Cross, Dirtandiron

            jweiler, the generosity of evangelical churches is laudable, but it must not be a quid pro quo transaction that demands a conformity of belief from the recipients of the generosity. Leading by example is the only long lasting way of bringing new believers into the Christian flock.

          •  this exact example (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DemFromCT, Kimball Cross, Loozerio

            has been a point i've attempted to make to on-line progressives.

            living where i live, Missouri, i've had the pleasure of interacting day-to-day with die-hard, right-wing, christian conservatives.  teabaggers, even.   while some of their beliefs and actions have driven me to disgust, some of their beliefs and actions have impressed the hell out of me.  

            they will show up to serve soup.
            they will show up when there's a hurricane.
            they will show up when there's a flood.
            they will show up when there's an ice storm.

            they don't show up to push their religion or politics, they show up because people are hurting.

            that's what i try to tap into, because that's the experience that might broaden their worldviews.

            again, thank you for engaging here this morning.

            "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

            by kj in missouri on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:46:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  small town NE is the same n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kj in missouri, Loozerio

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:47:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  exactly, (0+ / 0-)

                a common thread of humanity is still evident in this country.  and that's the string to strengthen.  vibrations, eh?

                nothing like listening to a conservative talk about the differences they see in their nephew after that nephew has come home from Iraq "whole," but not whole, never to be whole again.  nothing except maybe listening to a still-conservative marine with permanent brain damage hoping against hope the congressman who voted to send him to war will hire him as a staff member.  (right, like that happened.)

                thank you for this series, i'll be chewing on it for weeks.

                "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

                by kj in missouri on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:53:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You just identified a genuine progressive (0+ / 0-)

              trait. I truly resent grassroots Democrats who try to market progressivism as if they own it.
                 It is lame.

              Liberty Valence Saying, ''consumer protection'' is like saying, ''slavery protection.''

              by libertyvalence on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 05:55:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Hyper-individualism but not a radical (0+ / 0-)

          subjectivity that can reconcile itself with mass society. Too much work for these rubes.

          Liberty Valence Saying, ''consumer protection'' is like saying, ''slavery protection.''

          by libertyvalence on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 05:52:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  agree, and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Naniboujou, yella dawg, Dirtandiron

        the challenge for progressive messaging continues to be how to fold multi-complex ideas into simple, broad, understandable frames.   the same challenge poets face... how to make the abstract concrete.

        "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

        by kj in missouri on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:46:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A key feature of authoritarian (9+ / 0-)

    ideologies, according to "The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power," is their promotion of self-mistrust. "You could never make a good decision without (...),  you'd only be led astray by your own faulty reasoning."

    People who mistrust themselves, or believe in the "evil" of their own natures, are much easier to lead.

    The book I'm referring to, I was just plugging yesterday in a comment. It came out in the 90s, and was written by Kramer and Alstad.

    Sounds like this book would be an excellent companion to that earlier one. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

  •  John Dean's analysis of the authoritarian nature (12+ / 0-)

    of the new republican right in his "Conservatives Without Conscience" is chilling in it's implications for survival of democracy in the USA.
    When it is joined by radical theocracy and a move to indoctrinate branches of the Armed Forces, really scary scenarios look less like a CT thriller novel and more like something that might happen if a full blown economic depression marginalizes even more Americans.

    Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, and the Buddha would all be on the no-fly list today.

    by OHdog on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:26:16 AM PDT

    •  John Dean (9+ / 0-)

      I liked Dean's book alot. One thing I would clarify is that Dean focused his attention on leaders and their authoritarianism. We focus on mass opinion because we can measure that and because that's such a critical part of the story. Mitt Romney may or may not be authoritarian himself, but the key is the degree to which he (and other leaders) craft messages that appeal to authoritarian-minded voters. In a different political dynamic, where authoritarianism had not already structured partisan conflict to this degree, I don't know what would come out of his mouth (and I am just using Romney as one example)

      •  Romney's a great example (7+ / 0-)

        because that chameleon will adapt to whoever his constituency is.

        See MA/health care, then and now.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:32:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Biting the Ass (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, OHdog, Dirtandiron, Loozerio

          of Mitt Romney doesn't really hurt the true head of the faction that Romney is made up of...

          Exposing the media Oligarchy he so desperately clings to is a direct hit at the heart of corporate media PR infotainment...

          When atrios denudes pickler, quinn and more importantly friedman et al , the direct hit has legs ala FU's

          Recently Friedman wrote that gas taxes should be imposed that would cause no pain for his folk, and severe pain for those subject to thirty years of energy policies they would never have agreed to if they were informed; via government sanction,  of a true alternative-  Enacting Friedman think on that particular granular serves their side well, and devastates those who are manipulated daily...  The core he is deftly hiding and protecting is corp auto, corp oil, and the "inside basball" FDA; aka  MSHA MMS...

          When Net Neutrality is no more, the real civil war will begin, and the winners initially will not be the few shirtless dancers v friedmans

          Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

          by RF on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:43:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Dean's analysis is based on Bob Altemeyer's work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT

        ...as Dean acknowledges throughout the book.

        Altemeyer, who's an Associate Professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba, has posted his entire 2006 book The Authoritarians online for free.

        Obama's belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Obama's belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. - Scott Horton

        by GreenSooner on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:30:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This kind of stuff (5+ / 0-)

      just upsets me, if I let it.

      I continually soothe myself with the idea that the die-hard conservative constituency--the old, angry white males--are dying out, with nobody really coming up to replace them (according to many good polls).

      They sound so hysterical right now because they know their way of life is dying. They're losing.

      •  Respectfully (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy

        Your enemy is not

        the die-hard conservative constituency--the old, angry white males

        Your enemy is the entities that manipulate

        the die-hard conservative constituency--the old, angry white males

        and they will always put forth more zombies that will continue to upset you until you focus your energy toward the real enemy; not the polar political opposite of you-

        Btw, they are not losing; we are-

        Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

        by RF on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 08:14:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Conservatives are self destructive, (0+ / 0-)

        the trick is staying out of their line of sight or hearing range. They will only turn on each other when there is no one else to turn on. But turn they will, because their strategy is so simple; total political domination.
            I guess that would qualify one of them for authoritarian credentials.

        Liberty Valence Saying, ''consumer protection'' is like saying, ''slavery protection.''

        by libertyvalence on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 06:08:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I heard an interview on NPR with another (6+ / 0-)

    academic last week who suggests that, if the US population were required to vote - like the Australians - we would move from the two polarized outside edges back to more middle ground. That the 'middle American' who currently is uninterested uninspired to vote would, if so required, actually bring moderation back to the conversation.

    Thoughts?

    •  middle of the road (6+ / 0-)

      There might be something to this. Most people are neither strongly authoritarian nor strongly non-authoritarian. Those folks in the middle of the scale will, under some circumstances be more supportive of "muscular" views of the world (for example post 9/11) and other times much less so. They also will likely be less energized, either way, by the nature of political combat. Of course, there are other dimensions to this - the class nature of the electorate would change significantly if people were required to vote and this, too, could have significant electoral implications

      •  Changes with time (4+ / 0-)

        While I lent my copy to a friend, some time back, and thus cannot provide quotes, it seemed to me that there was an issue -- arguably the most important issue in the book -- that is not emphasized above.

        You can do studies and look at change with time of various groups.  The authors did.  They are in the chapters that are really incredibly exciting -- at least to my fellow physicists and computer game designers.  And the authors really did a good job with the material.

        The large changes with time have not been in the authoritarian quadrant, so much as they have been in the non-authoritarian quadrant.  The folks who were dedicated Republicans -- the 20-30% who think George Bush is the greatest Republican President of all time  -- were that way all along.  They have not changed. The change is on the other side. The people who differ have been coming together more coherently.

        •  The authors (0+ / 0-)

          may wish to disagree.

          I thought it was an excellent book, very well written.

          I would use a Nolan chart to summarize a different perspective:

                     Libertarian

          Progressive              Conservative<--rara avis</p>

                     Republican<--Bush's successful war; conquering a new corner of the Nolan Chart</p>

        •  non-authoritarians (6+ / 0-)

          You're right - we did find that alot of the action in driving the relationship between the authoriarianism scale and partisanship was on the less authoritarian end of the spectrum, as formerly moderate Republicans found themselves repelled by what they saw as the changing tone of the GOP. What complicates this is the degree to which the GOP has become influenced by authoritarianism in its outlook, messaging, etc. I do think, in that regard, the influence is stronger than is the case for non-authoritarianism and Democrats.

        •  there is hope, phillies (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kj in missouri

          Perhaps the human history differential equation will focus down on peace and tolerance, rather than exploding into the world of chaos. "Delta" time will tell.

    •  I heard that as well, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, nzanne, Dirtandiron, Loozerio

      and I think the weight of accumulated evidence in political science would agree.  Those who are most active in politics tend toward the ideological extremes.  One point I'd raise, though, is whether forcing people to be more active would cause them to pay more attention to politics in general, which in turn would polarize them.  We don't have any data that would answer that question, though.

      I don't care about your farm or mafia! Oh wait -- wrong forum.

      by cardinal on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:39:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  good point. (4+ / 0-)

        I'd sure like to try....

        When I was living in NZ, and doing NZ for Obama and voter registration, none of the locals could figure out WHY private people were promoting the drives and registering voters. It's a government expense and obligation, there.

        IF the press were more, shall we say, journalistic, I think we could get somewhere with finding middle ground in this country.

    •  I would characterize non-voters as probably (0+ / 0-)

      the most authoritarian of all.

      •  why? I just think of them as 'asleep'. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        Could you amplify?

      •  I don't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT, etbnc

        I have spent my life, I'm 67, in the construction industry and most of the guys I interact with just don't vote. As a life long Labor Democrat that concerns me so I've been asking 'why?' for almost 20 years. Overwhelmingly, the answer is some variant of "All them sonsabitches are the same." Including, "Why vote for an empty suit?" Democrats tend to win when they identify with the working class, propose progressive reform and attack concentrated wealth and power. The additional votes come from getting those carpenters and iron workers off the couch. See Jim Hightower.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:32:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The party establishments capitalize on (0+ / 0-)

      polarization. It is a fund raising ploy that only benefits the cultures of  the parties and captures the candidates.

      Liberty Valence Saying, ''consumer protection'' is like saying, ''slavery protection.''

      by libertyvalence on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 06:12:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ingroup v. outgroup loyalty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, Dirtandiron

    Does the book ever mention the research and theories of Henri Tajfel and its possible relevance in political polarization?

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

    by BeninSC on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:34:04 AM PDT

  •  isn't this Hawks and Doves (0+ / 0-)

    using old political terms?

  •  Much of the criticism from the left ... (6+ / 0-)

    ... is every bit as authoritarian as the criticism from the right. It can be summarized as "President Obama should just do X," dismissing constitutional or political limits as mere excuses.

    While many of those critics label any defense of the president as "hero worship," in fact that's exactly what their criticism is: anger at President Obama for not being an authoritarian Progressive Hero. Every news event is personalized as caused by the action or inaction of one man.

    It may be comforting to say authoritarianism has settled into one party, but it's not true.

    •  absolutely not true (6+ / 0-)

      you're right, and we see it come out more whenever we are under stress.

      However, on the whole, there has been a tendency for the parties to sort out on roughly those lines. It's not to say there aren't either worldviews in either party.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:44:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you're certainly entitled to your opinion... (15+ / 0-)

      ...but the data simply don't back you up. Yes, one can certainly be a mindless partisan in favor of Obama - there plenty of those. But this is simply not, in and of itself, the same as being authoritarian. Moreover, Obama has received harsh (and in my view justified) criticism from many progressives because he has trodden on constitutional principles, for example in the realm of indefinite detention, states's secrets, etc.

      •  data? hmph ;-P (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri, NCrissieB

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:47:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think you misread my comment. (4+ / 0-)

        Framing every issue as the decisions of one man - whether to support or criticize him - is an authoritarian worldview. Both those who criticize the president for everything that happens and those who insist he can do no wrong are authoritarian. In either view, the complexity of government is reduced to the decisions of a single authority figure.

        •  slightly different frames, it seems to me (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kj in missouri, NCrissieB

          I notice in his comments that Prof. Weiler has emphasized some different aspects of "authoritarian" than you might.

          I suspect that's why y'all differ somewhat about who is in or out of the Venn diagram.

          Cheers

        •  Please tell me who (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, NCrissieB

          (except for BWD) insists that Obama can do no wrong?  Is this that false equivalency thing?

          [W]e got our mops and brooms out, we're cleaning stuff out, and they're just sitting there saying, `Hold the broom better, that's not how you mop.'

          by Kitty on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:10:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You gave an example. (8+ / 0-)

            For me the bottom line in the pro-or-anti-Obama debate is that he's just one man. I think he's a good man, and the right man for the job he holds, but that job is "Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief [of the military]" ... not "running the country" or even "running the government."

            It's a big government, and he's just one man. He may be the most powerful individual in the federal government, but he's not all-powerful or even more powerful than the next 100 most powerful people in our federal government, let alone state governments and non-governmental actors. That is by design, and I think it's a mistake to reduce our political dialogue to being all about one man.

        •  echoing NCrissieB (6+ / 0-)

          Framing every issue as the decisions of one man - whether to support or criticize him - is an authoritarian worldview.

          because this has been my experience.   :-)

          a mind-set bent toward 'authority' is evident in both self-defined progressive and conservative voters.  i see it every day.  i see it here, in the so-called liberal blogosphere, every day i log on.  is there enough data to write a book about it?  only if fiction, and only because i have no skill with numbers.  ;-)

          "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

          by kj in missouri on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:25:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  jweiler should of course speak for himself.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrissieB

          ....but I really don't think any left critics of Obama hold the simplistic--and potentially authoritarian--view of government that your comment describes.

          Left critics of Obama don't hold him entirely responsible for the failures of his administration. Indeed, I'd challenge you to find any left critic of Obama who thinks that the Democratic leadership in Congress is doing a wonderful job and that everything would be fine if Obama himself just did the right thing.

          Obama's belief in the rule of law apparently takes the back seat to Obama's belief in his own ability to make the right call as executive. - Scott Horton

          by GreenSooner on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:36:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even limiting it to POTUS and Congress ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            etbnc

            ... is too simplistic. They can write legislation, but they can't enforce it. That task rests with hundreds of thousands of federal employees, many of whom still think and speak Conservative because they grew up in the 40-year conservative autumn and winter that began in the late 1960s. And while POTUS and Congress write legislation, they do so based on estimates of facts and causes that come from career bureaucrats (e.g.: the CBO), from lobbyists, the media, etc. ... many of whom also think and speak Conservative. Now add state and local government to the mix, and consider that many federal programs only supplement state or local projects.

            When I say "think and speak Conservative," that includes not only people who identify as conservative but also thos who experience events through conservative frame. Our culture has been inundated with conservative ideas and language for 40 years. While a majority of voters rejected conservative candidates in 2006 and 2008, that isn't the same as embracing or even understanding progressivism. You can say "No" to A without having any coherent concept of B in mind.

            We grassroots progressives have to learn and practice "thinking and speaking Progressive" again - including resisting the impulse to individualize social issues - before a majority of Americans can embrace progressive ideas.

      •  the right holds the puppet strings (0+ / 0-)

        May Loozerio offer anyone something from today's military-industrial complex menu?

    •  Good points. . . (5+ / 0-)

      Since you have a scholarly orientation (if I'm not mistaken), you definitely should read the book.  It's key strength -- the wealth of new empirical evidence they bring to the table in every chapter -- couldn't really be communicated effectively in a general discussion such as this one.  Bottom line: while there is clearly authoritarianism on both sides, it has shifted much more toward the Republican Party in recent years.

      I don't care about your farm or mafia! Oh wait -- wrong forum.

      by cardinal on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 06:47:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Black and white thinking also (4+ / 0-)

      rears it's head on the left.  Deep sea Drilling is bad and environmentally unsafe (true) therefore Obama should ban all deep water drilling.  The public option is the minimum we'll accept - anything else is a "sh*t sandwich".

      There is no such thing as working (together) towards a goal.  

      Punishment is also something the left is big on - even Bernie Sanders doesn't get a pass if he fails to toe the ideological line.

      Some on the left are the permanently dissatisfied. There will never be a Democratic president that they will support. No Dem can rely on the left to have his back.  They are just as busy (if not more so) as the right in sticking the shiv in.  

      The amazing thing is that they then wonder why the public keeps voting for Republicans.  Why wouldn't they?  The Republicans and the liberal pundits are in agreement that Dems suck and are not to be trusted.

      [W]e got our mops and brooms out, we're cleaning stuff out, and they're just sitting there saying, `Hold the broom better, that's not how you mop.'

      by Kitty on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:08:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's not generally (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, NCrissieB

      true. Most of the criticism that I read, and occasionally write, here is calling on Obama to get into the mix with congress more. It doesn't require him to be an unconstitutional authoritarian in the way Bush II, and Reagan, were. Just to be an active progressive like Roosevelt, Truman, JFK and LBJ. This is another of those false bifurcations attempting to show an equivalence between right and left that doesn't actually exist. Occasionally one of us will call for an executive order but I'm hard put to remember one that actually exceeds the constitutional authority of the President. The most recent are the calls to take either the Banks or BP into receivership for the purpose of protecting us from their depredations. Those may or not be appropriate but in both cases the debate included constitutional lawyers and former members of the executive branch on both sides of the question.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:23:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Search DKos for the word Obama and ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        etbnc

        ... the phrases "twist .. arms," "throw .. punches," "kick .. ass," "grow .. pair," and "grow .. balls." It won't be an easy search - the DKos search engine is an antique - but I'd bet there have been tens of thousands of such comments since August 2008. We've seen it again over the BP oil spill, including this debate between Robert Reich and Theda Skocpol.

        The problem is that our culture is so saturated with conservative language - thus conservative thinking - that we don't realize how often we speak Conservative even as progressives. I do it too sometimes. As Paul Krugman has noted, many younger (under 40 or so) economists never learned Keynesian theory. I wrote a few months ago that, while we may be past the solstice of the Bush years, we're still deep in a Conservative Winter. The political climate is still late February, in my opinion, and changing the season is a long-term process.

        I've seen a few green shoots of a Progressive Spring, e.g.: more candidates filed for federal elections in 2010 than in at least the past 35 years. Even if Tea Party GOP candidates outnumbered Democrats by 2:1, as they did, that's still a lot of people wanting to participate in government rather than seeing government a task for Someone Else to do. More people wanting to participate in government is a good sign for progressives, but that's one tiny green shoot in a lot of snow and ice. The sun shines a bit more each day after the winter solstice, but it takes awhile to warm the ground and atmosphere enough for us to experience a change of seasons.

        •  All of these (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy

          "twist .. arms," "throw .. punches," "kick .. ass," "grow .. pair," and "grow .. balls."

          are terms concerning being forceful in argument and having nothing to do with authoritarian leadership. You don't appear to understand the terms you are using and you don't seem to understand the frustration of liberals who went to the wall to elect this man. There is very little reason for Obama to trust the Rubinistas who make up his financial team in the face of a general recession. They don't believe that Keynseian analysis is any more valid than Marxian analysis, although both have a better track record than they do, and they are reluctant to propose the policies that people like Krugman and Galbraith are demanding every day. "Long term process" in political terms has, in my nearly 50 years of political activity, meant "shut up hippie, we don't need you until the next election". We don't want Obama to start issuing orders. We want him to get back to talking like he did on the campaign trail. We'd like to hear some of that "Redo NAFTA" and "uphold the Constitution" language that we voted for. Some of us have been fighting this shit since Nixon. You have to forgive our impatience.

          "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 04:33:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Love this topic (10+ / 0-)

    Reading Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians (free book, sorry Jonothan) helped me better understand the conflicts I see between family members and even helped me to spot authoritarian traits in myself. It is a fascinating topic. Look forward to reading your book.

  •  Ah, the great spin dry process of American (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    Party Politics. Who will end up in the lint trap of history?

  •  Joe Scarborough's false equivalencies (12+ / 0-)

    minimize Krugman and still attempt to legitimize Paul by characterizing him as no more extreme than a Nobel Peace prize winning economist.  So it's still Foxspeak, even on MSNBC.  If the meme he's no more extreme than Krugman takes hold Rand Paul stays under the radar, at least until after the election.

  •  I've been looking at the world (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri

    more and more through the lens of authoritarianism, in both the political landscape and in my own life, and it's been driving my world view. That's who we're really fighting in this country today: not republicans, not conservatives, but authoritarians, where ever we find them.

  •  The polarization is easy. It is the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    insiders against the outsiders;
    rich against poor;
    corporations against workers; and
    individual greed against a society worth living in.

    Everything else is over simplied and meant to distract.  Clinton vs. Obama?  Not a dime's worth of difference there.

    They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

    by dkmich on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:05:50 AM PDT

    •  I thnk addressing the GOP's (3+ / 0-)

      ever expanding authoritarianism and their insistence on afflict on everyone else, is not a distraction at all. I also don't think it's very responsible to dismiss HRC's authoritative leanings.

      We progressives need to get our heads around the relationship between the GOP's love affair with authoritarianism and their "my piece of the pie vs your silly common good" mindset. It's extremely telling: they what to use authority to ensure they get what they want, and that they have the power to screw over anyone they need to get it. This is precisely why they are so destructive to our society, why they what "big" government out certain sectors of society but then turn around and advocate for government intrusion in other sectors. They what to make sure government works for them, and only them, in letting them do what they want and oppressing everyone else--bleeding-heart libberuls, poor people, women, minorities, teh gays, "illegals," workers, teachers, scientists--so they don't get in the way. And the key is to undermine democracy via a strong central authority who they and they alone can manipulate.

      -8.50, -7.64 "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress." - Will Rogers

      by croyal on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 09:24:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  solid example (4+ / 0-)

      Carville: If Hillary Gave Obama "One Of Her Cojones, They'd Both Have Two"

      not a dime's worth of difference politically, but huge difference in the authoritarian approach of supporters. In fact, that's why passions ran so high – completely different worldview, even if similar politics. When Clinton made a play for authoritarian Dem primary voters (that's what carville's remark was about), passions were ignited... as intended.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 09:31:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carville is right. (0+ / 0-)

        Obama is void of passion, and I haven't seen a principle he thinks is worth fighting for.  He is the wrong man for this job.  

        They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

        by dkmich on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:04:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  whatever (0+ / 0-)

          you've completely changed the topic.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:05:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and in the process (0+ / 0-)

            shown that the authors' point about worldview and its effects on polarization have merit.

            "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

            by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:07:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  How? if so, didn't mean to. (0+ / 0-)

            I said, Clinton and Obama were the same.  You said politically yes, but not when it came to their characters.  I read your link and agreed with it.  HRC is a much stronger person and more willing to stand up and fight.  Is standing on principle authoritarian?  I don't think so.  Besides, I think they are all opportunists at best.  Everything is negotiable.  

            Anyway, sorry if I digressed.

            They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

            by dkmich on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:13:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  this comment is right on the money in terms of (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dkmich, Loozerio

              what the discussion is about. Without taking sides on who is better (that is a digression), they represent different worldviews.

              HRC is a much stronger person and more willing to stand up and fight.

              that is a more authoritarian wolrdview, without it being a pejorative. More black and white, less nuanced. One is 'stronger', the other a 'wimp'.

              Another example from the book comes in 2004, NPR truck driver interview:

              One of reporter Brian Naylor’s interviews on NPR was with a truck driver named Mark Methany. With the September 11 terrorist attacks only three years in the past, the candidates’ relative ability to deal with foreign threats and terrorism was, not surprisingly, on Methany’s mind. The way he talked about the issue, however, was a bit surprising. In sizing up the contest between Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Methany said, "I really think that [George Bush] is the man for the job to face down our enemy. He won’t just give [Osama bin Laden] a time out. He’ll smack him in
              the mouth."1

              Bush as tough and Kerry as wimp were familiar campaign personas in 2004. Such personas fit into larger themes of the parties and their respective "manliness." MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, host of the popular political talk show, Hardball, has dubbed the Democratic Party the "Mommy Party" and the Republican Party the "Daddy Party." Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California, referred to his Democratic opponents in the state legislature as "girlie men" who needed to be "terminated." In a similar vein, Ann Coulter, the combative conservative commentator, told Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ highly rated talk show The O’Reilly Factor, that she "[is] more of a man than any liberal."2 These labels suggest, of course, that Democrats are softer, providing the public things like compassion and affection, while Republicans are harder, providing things like toughness, protection, and discipline.

              http://assets.cambridge.org/...

              "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

              by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 10:21:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know how much longer (9+ / 0-)

    the author (poster "jweiler") can stick around., but let me thank him for the interview and the participation
    while he is still here!!

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 07:09:24 AM PDT

  •  More partisan political hackery dressed up in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RF

    academic garb.

    It's a lovely world where you get to make up your own definitions of things, and then apply them to a straw man version of the opposition.

    Weiler's definition of authoritarianism:

    we mean by authoritarianism a tendency to see the world in simple, clear, black and white terms in support of a social order that prefers sameness and uniformity over diversity and difference. It also tends to prefer the concreteness of military conflict over the subtleties of diplomacy.  A tendency to disdain complexity and nuance and to evince intolerance of outgroups are typical (though, of course not universal) features of authoritarian-minded individuals.

    The actual definition of authoritarianism from wikipedia:

    * "Highly concentrated and centralized power structures," in which political power is generated and maintained by a "repressive system that excludes potential challengers" and uses political parties and mass organizations to "mobilize people around the goals of the government";

    * The following principles:

       1) rule of men, not rule of law;
       2) rigged elections;
       3) all important political decisions made by unelected officials behind closed doors;
       4) a bureaucracy operated quite independently of rules, the supervision of elected officials, or concerns of the constituencies they purportedly serve;
       5) the informal and unregulated exercise of political power;

    * Leadership that is "self-appointed and even if elected cannot be displaced by citizens' free choice among competitors"

    * No guarantee of civil liberties or tolerance for meaningful opposition;

    * Weakening of civil society: "No freedom to create a broad range of groups, organizations, and political parties to compete for power or question the decisions of rulers," with instead an "attempt to impose controls on virtually all elements of society"; and

    * Political stability maintained by "control over and support of the military to provide security to the system and control of society; 2) a pervasive bureaucracy staffed by the regime; 3) control of internal opposition and dissent; 4) creation of allegiance through various means of socialization."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    So, the authors first come up with their own definition of authoritarianism, now cast basically terms of respect for diversity and nuance, and then go on to show that the relatively white and moralistic Republican Party is authoritarian. Great work, if you can get it.

    Meanwhile, any honest look at the history and current reality of authoritarian regimes around the world, of which the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party are obviously Exhibits A and B, has to conclude that it's an affliction of the left as least as much as it is of the right.

    •  authoritarians in this country (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri, Loozerio

      Meanwhile, any honest look at the history and current reality of authoritarian regimes around the world, of which the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party are obviously Exhibits A and B, has to conclude that it's an affliction of the left as least as much as it is of the right.

      You make a good point, but it seems that in this country most authoritarians seem to gravitate toward conservative politicians. You're far more likely to find left-wing authoritarians in China, or the former Soviet Union than here.

      •  I wouldn't necessarily say that (0+ / 0-)

        I made a point in last night's diary about Glenn Beck about the Sedition prosecutions. Democratic progressives Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are the two Presidents in the 20th Century who have the dubious distinction of being the only Presidents to have put their signatures to unconstitutional laws that literally criminalized dissent.

        Most recently, the individual mandate is amongst the more authoritarian laws that have been passed in the last couple of decades, with some Democrats in opposition, but the majority in favor. FOIA and the Patriot Act were bipartisan, but with lots of Democratic support, and anyone who's read Glenn Greenwald knows that Obama has carried Bush-era assaults on civil liberties to an even worse level.

      •  Loozerio believes the authors (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kj in missouri, Dirtandiron

        were trying to clarify how the individual authoritarian personality manifests itself in the public and political sphere, here in the U.S.

      •  Not exactly... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        those would still be considered right wing authoritarians. They are submissive to the traditional authorities. I don't know about China, but I do know that work that Sam McFarland did in the early 90s showed that authoritarians in the old USSR were nearly identical to right wing authoritarians in the USA. Liberals simply wouldn't score high on measures of authoritarian personality.

    •  Umm.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, kj in missouri

      The authors are talking about authoritarianism as a personality trait, not method of governance. It's a very well studied topic.

  •  Finally a good piece of the puzzle to add to (2+ / 0-)

    Dr Altmeyer's work The Authoritarians.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 08:07:49 AM PDT

  •  part most interesting (0+ / 0-)

    Of course, Obama has also disappointed a lot of progressives - his too-cozy approach to the financial sector, his complete reversals on campaign pledges concerning national security/civil liberties issues (which he hasn't even tried to defend) and, more broadly, his failure to articulate a clear vision for how America, under his guidance, can be a better place from a progressive perspective (more inclusive, more fair, more just) than it was before he took office. All of this has surely sapped a lot of pro-Obama passion.

    I feel better as a Democrat when others affirm what frustrates and confuses me about Obama's leadership - instead of arguing that what I perceive is hero worship gone bad.

    Arizona, "Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to get?"

    by mrobinson on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 08:53:32 AM PDT

  •  Let's not forget... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loozerio

    that many of the right wing leaders are also score high on social dominance orientation (SDO) along with right wing authoritarianism (RWA). These two personality traits when combined are the strongest predictors towards intergroup threat and prejudice. SDO is also highly correlated with the Dark Triad personality traits; narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy. RWA, while showing no significant correlations to the dark triad measures, does negatively correlate to openness on the Big Five scales.

    You would think that an RWA would never be an SDO, because RWA is inherently a trait of submission. But as Bob Altemeyer has noted, the high RWA-high SDO wants to be the legitimate authority of authoritarians.

    With high RWA-high SDO individuals, I doubt the sincerity of there RWAness. The SDO has such a strong correlation to subclinical psychopathy that I assume that pretending to believe like an authoritarian (aggressive to outgroups, submissive to authority, conventionalism, along with all the high correlates to ethnocentrism, homophobia, etc etc.) is a manipulation of the authoritarians to position one's self as an authoritarian leader. This is very much evident in Rand Paul. That man, I imagine, is a fake authoritarian, and more so a psychopath.

    •  Scott, your analysis is astute. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scott in WI

      The points of differentiation between SDO's and RWA's may seem like pseudo-scholarly quibbling, but to Loozerio they are the basis for the motivation behind human events. To put it bluntly, there are the mindless assholes who get told what to think, and the mindless assholes who want to be the head asshole.

  •  There are 2 kinds of Authoritarians (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross

    The leaders and the followers.
    I found the following article amusing:

    Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

    Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer.

    http://www.newscientist.com/...

  •  Authoritarianism = Lakoff's Strict Father n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betson08
  •  Is Polarization a Myth? Not so much... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, Kimball Cross

    (This piece below is cited heavily in the Hetherington and Weiler (2009) book...here's a copy of it I found online: https://www.csupomona.edu/...

    Is Polarization a Myth?

    Alan I. Abramowitz, Emory University
    Kyle L. Saunders, Colorado State University

    The Journal of Politics (2008), 70:542-555 Cambridge University Press
    Copyright © Southern Political Science Association 2008
    doi:10.1017/S0022381608080493

    Abstract:
    This article uses data from the American National Election Studies and national exit polls to test Fiorina’s assertion that ideological polarization in the American public is a myth. Fiorina argues that twenty-first-century Americans, like the midtwentieth-century Americans described by Converse, ‘‘are not very well-informed about politics, do not hold many of their views very strongly, and are not ideological’’ (2006, 19). However, our evidence indicates that since the 1970s, ideological polarization has increased dramatically among the mass public in the United States as well as among political elites. There are now large differences in outlook between Democrats and Republicans, between red state voters and blue state voters, and between religious voters and secular voters. These divisions are not confined to a small minority of activists—they involve a large segment of the public and the deepest divisions are found among the most interested, informed, and active citizens. Moreover, contrary to Fiorina’s suggestion that polarization turns off voters and depresses turnout, our evidence indicates that polarization energizes the electorate and stimulates political participation.

  •  Great article. (0+ / 0-)

    This is by far the best article I have read for many many months on this or any site.

  •  Why isn't this "fundamentalism"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loozerio

    "we mean by authoritarianism a tendency to see the world in simple, clear, black and white terms in support of a social order that prefers sameness and uniformity over diversity and difference. It also tends to prefer the concreteness of military conflict over the subtleties of diplomacy.  A tendency to disdain complexity and nuance and to evince intolerance of outgroups are typical (though, of course not universal) features of authoritarian-minded individuals."

    The definition offered for what the book is about seems to me to be the definition of fundamentalism, not authoritarianism.  And, by calling the phenomenon "authoritarianism", it seems to me that you push what is really only one downstream consequence of fundamentalism -- the need for one Leader to unite the forces of right order against the forces of darkness for their final Armageddon -- into the central role as its defining and driving force.

    One practical effect of this arguably poor choice, is that you enable and facilitate the Libertarian dodge that our radical fundamentalists like to use lately precisely to cover the ugly consequences of their authoritarian tendencies.  Libertarianism, as appealed to by contemporary Americans, is quite fundamentalist.  These folks believe that modern America has gone wrong by abandoning the supposedly strict libertarian philosophy of the Founders.  Thus the paradox that precisely the people who mouth the precepts of a philosophy that claims to start from personal freedom, are the most enthusiastic about using the power of the state to help white people oppress black and brown people.  They're for freedom, don't you see, the freedom of white people to oppress black and brown people, as established by their "Libertarian" projection of what the Founders believed.

    These authoritarian fundamentalists are way ahead of anybody trying to brand them as authoritarians.  That's the whole point of "Libertarianism".  They've already thought through the attack on fundamentalism as leading to auhoritarianism, and prepared their defense.  If you want to convince them to change, or convince the uncommitted to not commit to their project, you need to go around their defenses, and not fight them on their chosen killing ground.  You need to show people another, more basic and true, division than the distinction between authority and liberty, because the fundamentalists have already got their dibs in on "liberty".    

    As a practical matter, any order of society feels to all of us like an assault on our personal space, our liberty.  The fundamentalist reaction is to refuse to see this universal condition as anything but an imposition on their particular space, and to imagine some fantasy past state in which their needs were all met by the right order of society in force at that time, and to seek to get back to that pristine state.  Of course everybody else fails to agree to this nonsense, the fundamentalist doctrine meets resistance, and the fundametalists must move on to authoritarian means in order to force right order on a recalcitrant, and thereby manifestly evil, world.  

    We all feel that our freedom is threatened, so you get nowhere telling one set of folks that they are the freedom-threateners, they are the authoritarians.  

    We are all both freedom-threatened by others, and freedom threateners to others.  The real division is between the point of view that can rise above the personal and immediate reaction to this inescapable condition of any society to see that everyone feels threatened and pressured, and the point of view that only your own particular group is the victim of past, present and future martyrdom at the hands of the other.  The latter point of view is fundamantalism.  The former has no particualr name, except maybe "humanity".  

    The presidency must be destroyed.

    by gtomkins on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 07:43:49 AM PDT

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