The Tea Party – The “Masses” for American Authoritarianism

In 2003, Laurence W. Britt, reviewed seven national regimes which followed the “fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power.” From his study, he developed fourteen basic characteristics or “common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.”

In late 2005, a friend gave me a copy of Mr. Britt’s list. Soon thereafter, I started The WAWG Blog and began posting information on these characteristics of fascism as they applied to America.

In May of 2006, I released a posting about the “single party” state which summarized how fascism grew within authoritarian nation states like Germany or Italy.

In this WAWG article, a key component for forming a fascist state is referenced 23 times: the human “masses.” These “masses” are a controllable and highly active minority within the total population. They are ignored for decades but then circumstances bring them to national prominence as they help create a single party fascist state. These “masses” were the ‘brown shirts’ of Nazi Germany. They are violent jihadists who want to recreate an Islamic caliphate. These “masses” are present in America.

Also in 2006, the book Conservatives Without Consciences (CWC) by John Dean was released. Mr. Dean’s book explained how our path to fascism was started and about the “masses” that are making it happen. John wrote, “Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds.  … And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going away.”

John Dean made extensive use of the research done by Robert Altemeyer. Professor Altemeyer’s research evolved out of the studies of others on how fascism got started in Europe prior to WWII. His research refined the earlier efforts. Altemeyer defined personality traits of the authoritarian “masses” and created a set of questions to identify these traits in any individual. Also, the demographics collected as part of the questionnaire showed that these authoritarian “masses” were right-wing and evangelical. Thus he called them right-wing authoritarians (RWA).

Professor Altemeyer’s research shows there are left-wing authoritarians, but they are few and far between.

Altemeyer’s research also showed there were subcategories of the authoritarian personality: followers and social dominators. Here are the personality traits for the authoritarian “masses.”

Authoritarian Personality Traits
Social Dominators Followers
typically men men and women
dominating* submissive to authority*
opposes equality* aggressive on behalf of authority*
desirous of personal power* respectful of those with power
iconoclastic conventional*
amoral* moralistic
manipulative trust untrustworthy authorities
exploitive uncritical toward chosen authority
takes advantage of “suckers,”
tells other what they want to hear
moderate to little education
fear-mongering prone to panic easily
specializes in creating false images to sell self inconsistent and contradictory
may or may not be religious highly religious
knowingly cheats to win highly self-righteous but little self-awareness
intimidating and bullying bullying
vengeful severely punitive
pitiless intolerant, narrow-minded
highly prejudiced against race, women, and homosexuals prejudiced against women, homosexuals, and anyone of a different religion
mean-spirited mean-spirited
nationalistic demands loyalty and returns it
militant strict disciplinarian, , dogmatic
dishonest hypocritical
faintly hedonistic zealous

*Denotes those authoritarian Social Dominator and Follower traits on which Double High authoritarians always score high. Those (and there are some according to John Dean) who score high on more of both sets of traits than just these, “are likely to be the particularly alarming Double Highs.

In April 2010, Professor Altemeyer discussed the 12 behaviors of authoritarian followers as they relate to the members of the Tea Party. After detailing how well the Tea Party mapped to his 12 behaviors, he said:

Still and all, I was just amazed by the Tea Party protest movement. It seemed as if the demonstrators had read the research findings on authoritarianism and then said, “Let’s go out and prove that all those things are true.” Whatever else the Tea Party movement has accomplished, it has certainly made the research on authoritarianism look good.

In October 2010, another blog posting about the Tea Party by Sara Robinson of Cognitive Policy Works, discussed the Tea Party and what its success in the 2010 election could mean for our future:

They’ve already promised us that if they take either house of Congress, the next two years will be a lurid nightmare of hearings, trials, impeachments, and character assassinations against progressives. … Similar scorched-earth harassment awaits officials at every other level of government, too. And casual violence against immigrants, gays, and progressives may escalate as the Tea Party brownshirts become bolder, confident that at least some authorities [social dominators] will either back them up or look the other way.

In the 1930s, the minority “masses” got organized and transformed Germany into a right-wing Nazi state. During recent decades, the “masses” of America have become politically active and increasingly organized. They have been identified as CWCs, authoritarian followers, the fringe of the fringe, and social dominators born of the strict-father family model. They were a loose knit but consistent minority of citizens scattered around the country, but mostly in the south, that eventually concentrated their allegiance with the Republican Party under Ronald Reagan. Then Bush and Cheney came along and took over the Executive branch and, as authoritarian social dominators, moved America closer to a single-party state by furthering the development of the unitary executive.

In 2009, after decades of lopsided tax breaks to transfer wealth to the mega and ultra rich, the American right-wing “masses” were finally organized by other authoritarian social dominators like the Koch Brothers, Dick Army, Fox News, Hate Radio and others. They became members and town hollers of the Tea Party. They are so organized under the Tea Party, they nearly defeated national health care last year. This year they have defeated moderate Republicans across America. Just last month, with the help of the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, they became members of the 112th Congress. They now control other Republicans in Congress by threatening their future reelection if they don’t follow the dictates of their right-wing social dominators. The last time they were this organized was just before we lost 618,000 citizens in a civil war.

Members of the Tea Party absolutely represent the right-wing “masses,” or the red-white-and-blue shirts, who are leading the way to a fascist America.



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About Andy Hailey

Vietnam Vet, UT El Paso Grad, Retired Aerospace Engineer, former union rep, 60's Republican now progressive, web admin, blogger.

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