STrumpet sounds so quaint. I get the image of floozies in bodices where their cups runneth over. There’s a whiff of something overripe about them. They don’t necessarily have hearts of gold. They’re looking out for themselves. Nothing so tasteful as Vermeer’s Procuress but the boob grabbing seems to be a thing.
It’s a silly image. How close is it to reality?
Well, Matthew McWilliams at Vox did what looks like principal components analysis of the typical Trump supporter and most of you will probably not be surprised with the results:
What I found is a trend that has been widely overlooked. A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump. Neither, despite predictions to the contrary, did evangelicalism.
Here is what did: authoritarianism, by which I mean Americans’ inclination to authoritarian behavior. When political scientists use the term authoritarianism, we are not talking about dictatorships but about a worldview. People who score high on the authoritarian scale value conformity and order, protect social norms, and are wary of outsiders. And when authoritarians feel threatened, they support aggressive leaders and policies.
Authoritarianism and a hybrid variable that links authoritarianism with a personal fear of terrorism were the only two variables that predicted, with statistical significance, support for Trump.
We’ve been here before. If you’re new to the concept of authoritarianism, stop right here and go read Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, his online study of the subject. I’m not sure the typical Trump supporter would see themselves as cousins of North Koreans or an Ayatollah but that’s about where they are. Trump has similar qualities of power and strength that the typical authoritarian follower admires.
Conformity is a key personality characteristic of authoritarian followers. The wariness of outsiders has been a constant feature of our culture. We all learned about xenophobia in America in our 11th grade social studies class. It’s an “us vs them” strategy employed by politicians since forever.
There’s something I think the analysis is not yet picking up on and I’m not sure what parameter to chuck into the mix to see if it counts but it has something to do with the inability to assess risk or think critically. I’m not sure this has anything to do with education either since I’ve known plenty of people with PhDs whose ability to think critically can be derailed by a good propaganda campaign. Let’s just say that politicians like Trump and George W. Bush are good at poking at the amygdalas of some people to make them think of how vulnerable and unsafe they are all the time.
There’s reasonable fear that we can think through and prepare for and then there is unreasonable fear that resists thinking through. I think authoritarians are very good at stimulating the latter. But the funny thing is that the scenarios that the authoritarians present to all of us are the same. It’s just that some of us don’t fall for them. That’s the part I’m most curious about.
Well, that’s about as far as I want to delve into the mind of a typical STrumpet today. I think we can all see where the campaign is heading at this point. The Republican primary is set up for “winner take all”, while Democrats have gone with proportional distribution of the vote. We all know from 2008 that this is just a convenient fiction for the Democrats. The Superdelegates will make the final call and pretty soon (In fact, I’m already seeing signs of this), the word will go out to fall in behind Hillary. Im already seeing the ice crack around protecting Obama’s legacy too with Bill Press’s book on Buyer’s Remorse and one of Tom Sullivan’s posts at Digbysblog where he pretty much admits that the Democrats tried the Republican campaign strategy in 2008 (and how did that turn out??). The title of the post is An “existential sense of betrayal”. Digby herself seems to be stuck thinking that it’s all about racism but some of her co-posters are a little more introspective. That’s encouraging. In any case, Hillary is going to have to start distancing herself from Obama and probably sooner than later if she has to present herself as something new.
Trump will continue to insinuate that Hillary is about to be indicted for something. Not sure how she’s going to deal with it but I suspect that the media, who has had an irrational hatred of her for two decades, is going to have to swallow its pride and start, you know, actually reporting the truth about her. That should be interesting.
I thought 2008 was ugly but I think this campaign year is going to get even uglier. We might even see one candidate completely rid himself of the Mister Nice Guy routine we expect of serious candidates and go after his opposition using language that will make everyone but the most hardened strumpet blush.