As the 2016 United States presidential election slowly draws nearer, support for certain candidates is becoming more concrete. While the Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still relatively neck-and-neck, the majority of Republicans have decided they want to nominate Donald Trump. But what is it about the billionaire and former reality TV star that has people so devoted to him as a political candidate?
A survey conducted by Politico suggests that there’s one strange determining factor that makes a Donald Trump supporter, and it has nothing to do with race, religion, age, gender, education, or income. A Donald Trump supporter tends to be someone with authoritarian leanings.
Matthew MacWilliams sampled 1,800 voters from across the entire political spectrum and ran a “statistical analysis” of the poll answers. He found that it didn’t really matter what age, race, religion, etc. the voter was, they tended to support Donald Trump if they agreed with authoritarian values. Donald Trump supporters also had a strong fear of terrorism, according to the survey, but that was greatly overshadowed by their authoritarian inclinations.
But what does authoritarian mean? While MacWilliams mentions that authoritarianism has been “widely studied” as a result of the authoritarian leadership in the Nazi party, this does not mean that Donald Trump should be fairly compared to Adolf Hitler. Authoritarian leanings are defined by Dictionary.com in the following way.
“A personality pattern reflecting a desire for security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority, a conventional set of values or outlook, a demand for unquestioning obedience, and a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups.”
While the language of this definition does not paint authoritarian tendancies in an especially positive light, they reflect the criteria MacWilliams used to determine if the voters he surveyed were, in fact, authoritarian.
“While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to ‘make America great again’ by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.”
But MacWilliams also makes an effort to point out that not all Republicans are authoritarian in their values, and not all Republicans support Donald Trump. That said, authoritarian leanings do seem to play a major role in determining who sides with Donald Trump, almost regardless of what he says.
“In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side,” said MacWilliams. “Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.”
However, PJ Media is skeptical of MacWilliams’ study, questioning whether the “authoritarian inclinations” can be fairly gleaned from the poll. For example, the survey claimed to determine authoritarian leanings and support of Donald Trump based on how a person would want to raise their child.
“These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.”
RedState also claims to be suspicious of the findings, but does agree that, if the poll is accurate, it would explain why Donald Trump supporters stick with him despite an “avalanche of gaffes and embarrassing moments.”
While it may not be accurate to suggest Donald Trump is like other authoritarian leaders, many people have criticized Donald Trump’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country and start a registry of Muslim citizens as having the stink of Nazi Germany all over it, because it parallels the way the party treated Jews and other outsiders.
What do you think? Is Donald Trump the hero of authoritarian thought? Do you support Donald Trump?
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