There are tens of millions of Americans who, although personally lacking the self-confidence, ambition and leadership qualities of authoritarian dominators like [Newt] Gingrich or Sarah Palin, nevertheless empower the latter to achieve their goals while finding psychological fulfillment in subordination to a cause. [Robert] Altemeyer describes these persons as authoritarian followers. They are socially rigid, highly conventional and strongly intolerant personalities, who, absent any self-directed goals, seek achievement and satisfaction by losing themselves in a movement greater than themselves. One finds them overrepresented in reactionary political movements, fundamentalist sects and leader cults like scientology…. 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. [citing Altemeyer] They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result…. 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.
AFRAID TO EVEN ASK?
Don’t any of his ardent supporters ever wonder about these “many people” who apparently whisper into Trump’s ear all of the inane assertions he then spews into the public domain, or how he alone is possessed of the political superpowers one would need to do anything he’s promised? And how does someone with Trump’s background suddenly come to possess—all by himself—so much inside-the-bubble secret information—apparently unavailable even to those with the highest access to intelligence gathering? [“I know.” “Believe, me, folks.”] If viewed in the comforts of a movie theater, audiences would laugh at such preposterousness in the guise of authority. [For a fascinating analysis of Trump’s linguistic efforts, see this.]
What stands out to me about this election has nothing to do with the candidates, it has to do with the electorate….It ought to be sobering to realize the number of people who buy in to what Trump’s saying. The number of people who cheer when he tells lies. Mickey Edwards – former [Republican] congressman [OK].
And so a six-year-old observation holds even more truths today:
[I]t’s worth realizing that uninformed voters make unwise decisions. The public has enormous responsibilities in our political system, and right now, far too many aren’t prepared to act on those responsibilities in an effective way.
THUS THE DILEMMA….
One side wants a shared and deeper understanding of not just the facts, but the purposes and expectations as well.
The other side has little interest in any of that, and is otherwise too busy being stirred by one storyline or another, reinforced again and again by those focused on the Right buttons to push. [Anything else is, at least in the moment, an irrelevancy and a distraction.]
Conservatives see the world as a more threatening place because their brains predispose them to being fearful. They are also predisposed by brain biology to hating complexity and compromise. That would help to explain why politics can be so polarized, particularly in a rather conservative era like the present. [with citations]
[Researchers] report that conservatives possess a greater fear of crime, terrorism, and death and hold more prejudicial attitudes toward members of deviant (perceived) or stigmatized groups, at least in part because of their chronically elevated levels of threat. In this way, conservatism is understood as constituting a broadly motivated social belief that operates to manage uncertainty, control a sense of threat, and exert mastery over fear.
Our political dialogue has been largely diverted from factual discussions to emotional ones—or worse. Evidence, reality, and honesty matter much less in the pure air of ideology, thus widening the divide. Keeping supporters agitated and anxious—if not culturally and politically uninformed or deceived as well—obviously reaps a lot of short-term advantages for candidates seeking to make their mark.
But it makes a mockery of the responsibilities entrusted to them. What Happens Then? is pushed even farther away from public consideration.
Too many voters remain isolated in their box of pseudo-information—dutifully massaged and cherry-picked to insure they adhere to the Party Line. It’s constructed by, in one corner, the usual suspects of fear-inducing right-wing leadership and media sources; and in the other corner, by a collection of intelligent and presumably rational conservative leaders and media personnel too cowardly to do the right thing [especially if it’s not the Right thing].
No pushback must mean Right is right, Right?
Living in fear is a hell of a choice … literally. Worse when it’s based on fact-free nonsense.
~ My Photo: from the el Conquistador Resort, Puerto Rico © 02.25.16
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
~ ~ ~
As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:
We all do better when we all do better
Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?