Here are links to three articles on American Authoritarianism and selected quotes from each:
Trump embodies the classic authoritarian.
Donald Trump could be just the first of many Trumps in American politics
The political phenomenon we identify as right-wing populism seems to line up, with almost astonishing precision, with the research on how authoritarianism is both caused and expressed
Authoritarians are a real constituency that exists independently of Trump — and will persist as a force in American politics
If this rise in American authoritarianism is so powerful as to drive Trump’s ascent, then how else might it be shaping American politics?
The social threat theory helps explain why authoritarians seem so prone to reject not just one specific kind of outsider or social change, such as Muslims or same-sex couples or Hispanic migrants, but rather to reject all of them
Non-authoritarians who were sufficiently frightened of threats like terrorism could essentially be scared into acting like authoritarians
Authoritarians generally and Trump voters specifically, we found, were highly likely to support five policies:
- Using military force over diplomacy against countries that threaten the United States
- Changing the Constitution to bar citizenship for children of illegal immigrants
- Imposing extra airport checks on passengers who appear to be of Middle Eastern descent in order to curb terrorism
- Requiring all citizens to carry a national ID card at all times to show to a police officer on request, to curb terrorism
- Allowing the federal government to scan all phone calls for calls to any number linked to terrorism
If Trump loses the election, that won’t remove the threats and social changes that trigger the “action side” of authoritarianism
We may now have a de facto three-party system: the Democrats, the GOP establishment, and the GOP authoritarians
This is a big group of people now, and it’s not going away
The GOP had already become the party of American authoritarianism
There are now two Republican parties, and neither can win the White House
Congress in the authoritarian era: more divided, more extreme, more unruly
The problems in the Republican party aren’t just problems in the Republican party. They’re problems for all Americans.
Democratic agendas, which often involve expanding programs or imposing new regulations, Skocpol pointed out, are more likely to require new laws. Republicans, on the other hand, can count inaction as a win when they manage to block that kind of expansion. Worsening polarization will exacerbate this.
Perhaps GOP voters in those states will divide, or perhaps authoritarian-minded voters will nominate Trump-style candidates who alienate the rest of the state, thus allowing Democrats a shot at winning otherwise unwinnable races.
That level of partisan bias gives the GOP a great deal of protection against its voters defecting to the Democrats. In other words, there is something that still unites Republican voters in both the authoritarian and non-authoritarian camps: They really, really don’t like Democrats.
What matters is not just that authoritarians’ influence within the party is rising, but when it is happening: at a moment when the party is institutionally far weaker than it has been in the past. Its leadership is less in control of rank-and-file, less able to steer voters, and often contradicted or undermined by party elites, such as donors, who have a growing ability to push their own agendas.
The Republican establishment, less able to control a party that is increasingly driven by donors acting on their own agendas, has grown weak and fractured. The scale of the authoritarian movement would have shaken any party, but today’s GOP is especially unable to resist or control it.
But now that the Donald has made a career shift, abandoning the boardroom in favor of the campaign trail, he could use some role models of his own. In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that he’s already found them: Whether Trump is aware of it or not, he appears to be increasingly following the unwritten playbook of tricks used by dictators and autocratic leaders the world over.
Rule 1: Wink at violent supporters to intimidate the opposition
Rule 2: Tell your supporters that your political opponents are enemies of the state
Rule 3: Intimidate or co-opt journalists to ensure positive coverage
Rule 4: Use strict libel and sedition laws as weapons
Rule 5: Hint that if the election doesn’t go your way, your supporters will respond violently
Step one is to claim that the election was wrongfully stolen from you. Step two is to unleash your supporters, who now believe their chosen candidate was denied rightful office, on the streets to cause riots or violent chaos. Step three, the end goal, is to graciously accept the presidency, or perhaps a significant role in a “government of national unity” in exchange for telling your supporters to stand down.