Monday, April 27, 2020

Trumpites Studied: Aggressive Authoritarians

A recently republished study on the characteristics of Trump supporters/voters by K. Norman Smith and Eric Hanley of Kansas University provided a very clear understanding of the type of persons finding Donald Trump's leadership appealing.  They and other sociologists identify these people as Aggressive Authoritarians.  Their study contrasts them from other more benign authoritarian personalities classified by psychologists.

Below is an Abstract of their study.

No Access
Recently released data from the 2016 American National Election Study allow us to offer a multifaceted profile of white voters who voted for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential election. We find that Trump’s supporters voted for him mainly because they share his prejudices, not because they’re financially stressed. It’s true, as exit polls showed, that voters without four-year college degrees were likelier than average to support Trump. But millions of these voters—who are often stereotyped as “the white working class”—opposed Trump because they oppose his prejudices. These prejudices, meanwhile, have a definite structure, which we argue should be called authoritarian: negatively, they target minorities and women; and positively, they favor domineering and intolerant leaders who are uninhibited about their biases. Multivariate logistic regression shows that, once we take these biases into account, demographic factors (age, education, etc.) lose their explanatory power. The electorate, in short, is deeply divided. Nearly 75% of Trump supporters count themselves among his enthusiastic supporters, and even “mild” Trump voters are much closer in their attitudes to Trump’s enthusiasts than they are to non-Trump voters. Polarization is profound, and may be growing.

Smith's and Hanley's work is supported by numerous other studies on this very topic from around academia across the globe.  This includes studies from U.of Manitoba, U. of Aukland, U. of Southern Denmark, U. of Akron, Harvard, Cambridge, U. of Chicago, Stanford, Princeton and Oxford.  It is also supported by studies published by Gallup and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 

Think about this in your own experience among your Trump supporting family and friends.  Seems to speak truth to me.  Those same characteristics  are exhibited by  those I know and now do my best to avoid.  Why do I shun them?  Because their views are toxic to me and the values I try to espouse.  Life is difficult enough without  this poison.  These people are antithetical to everything I think our very flawed society and democracy is attempting to advance for humanity.  The European academics who have studied these types of people initiated their work to try to understand how much of Europe embraced fascism.  Their work is an attempt to avoid repeating these same mistakes. 

Authoritarian figures are not foreign to American society as seen in our history.  These are not your bread a butter kinds of conservatives we liberals once were able to make common cause with to solve societal problems.  They are brutal, cruel and unforgiving of opposition.  We are seeing it now in their refusal to follow difficult but reasonable social norms to spare others of Covid 19 infection and possible death.  They advocate the value of the economy over human life.  Economies can be restored.  Life cannot.

So, I choose to both resist the policies now being advanced by both D.J. Trump and the Republican Party. He has shaped it into a White Nationalist party. I'll remove these people from my life, wary of the harm they wish to visit on my society, country and me. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Wishing A Field Of Bluebonnets For All Of You

Each year of all my years in Texas when the Bluebonnets bloomed in the spring, I had the urge to go and lay down in that field, feel their beauty and gaze in to the blue sky overhead.  A couple of times, riding my bike in the country, I did exactly that.  The feeling then and the memory now is exhilarating. That is how I feel too about all the people over my 83 years who have touched my very good and happy life. 

So far, in the Corona crisis we are all experiencing, I am well.  In fact, with a new workout regime, feeling better than I've felt in years.  But, with the uncertainty of this, maybe the most difficult time each of us have ever faced, I wanted to share my appreciation of each and every one of you .

Facebook and personal friends alike, many being in both categories, I want to thank you for being in my life.  And I wish for each of you a future healthy life.

Whether you have been among those who shared with me a close personal friendship, shared with me my journey through school, college and the military, or in friendship through my 46 years of my first love. I'm grateful for you.

If we labored together through a journey through and out of the Catholic church, thank you for being there for me.  If we parented together in our early years of marriage, I so appreciate you.   If our relationship was around social activism and political reform, being in the trenches with you was so gratifying, through success and failure.  We dealt together with uncertainty then as we do now and reinforced one another.

If our relationship was around career and professional and business pursuits, you provided such amazing inspiration to me.  If we engaged together in our neighborhood and community, thank you for being there for me.

Should we have connected a result of my new life with the second great love of my life in the past 13 years of personal and geographic adventure, you'll never know how much support and enrichment I've gained from our being together.

Each of you have provided me love, affection, respect, sometimes harsh truth and the certainty that I have not been alone in this journey.  I hope I have been able to give back to you in the same way you were so generous in your support for me.

Wishing each and all of you a fruitful and satisfying journey.