Don’t know if you’ve seen the Vox video below, but you should. You also should check out Amanda Taub’s, “The rise of American authoritarianism,” in which she notes that a couple of political scientists—Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler—had “essentially predicted Trump’s rise back in 2009.” How? Taub explains:
That year, Hetherington and Weiler published a book about the effects of authoritarianism on American politics. Through a series of experiments and careful data analysis, they had come to a surprising conclusion: Much of the polarization dividing American politics was fueled not just by gerrymandering or money in politics or the other oft-cited variables, but by an unnoticed but surprisingly large electoral group — authoritarians.
Their book concluded that the GOP, by positioning itself as the party of traditional values and law and order, had unknowingly attracted what would turn out to be a vast and previously bipartisan population of Americans with authoritarian tendencies.
This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which “activated” authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.
These Americans with authoritarian views, they found, were sorting into the GOP, driving polarization. But they were also creating a divide within the party, at first latent, between traditional Republican voters and this group whose views were simultaneously less orthodox and, often, more extreme.
Over time, Hetherington and Weiler had predicted, that sorting would become more and more pronounced. And so it was all but inevitable that, eventually, authoritarians would gain enough power within the GOP to make themselves heard.
At the time, even Hetherington and Weiler did not realize the explosive implications: that their theory, when followed to its natural conclusion, predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics. But looking back now, the ramifications of their research seem disturbingly clear.
Disturbingly clear, indeed. We know that the authoritarians now control the Republican Party. That fight is over and the surrendering is going on as I write. But it remains to be seen if they will control the entire country. It’s possible they will—and Bernie Sanders is out there flirting with that possibility right now by aiding and abetting Drumpf—but until the time comes to find out, at least we should understand what is happening to our country: