On today's BradCast, more Super Tuesday election results clean up, the GOP in full panic mode, and a political scientists' explanation for Trump's ascendancy. [Audio link to the complete show is below.]
First up, more information on some of the seemingly inexplicable computer-reported election results from Super Tuesday that we discussed in more detail on yesterday's program. The MA city which originally reported Jim Gilmore as "winning" the GOP primary in a landslide has "corrected" results, with little explanation. Though I was able to receive an an explanation from Roanoke County VA's General Registrar who responded to our query about why Bernie Sanders seemed to lose 600 votes in the county on election night, moving him from the "win" to the "loss" column there.
Next up, Mitt Romney's remarkable speech attacking Donald Trump as a "phony" and a "fraud" today, and how it may be as likely to help Trump as hurt him.
Then, my fascinating and even chilling conversation with Jonathan Weiler, author, blogger and UNC Chapel Hill political scientist, on the one trait that academics have recently identified to be most predictive of whether you will be a Trump supporter. It isn't racism, education level or economic concerns, as some might have guessed. It's authoritarianism.
As described in his recent article, "Understanding Trump: It's the Authoritarianism, Stupid" and in his 2009 book with Marc Hetherington, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics --- published long before the rise of Trump --- authoritarianism, as defined by political scientists, is distinct from both racism and conservatism, even as the ideas can cross over in a number of ways.
Weiler explains how political scientists are able to determine who has such tendencies and who does not, based on survey questions regarding not political matters, but on family and child rearing. He goes on to note that authoritarianism, which had fallen out of favor somewhat in the 20th century, had been prevalent in the Democratic Party as well as the GOP, as recently as 1992.
"In 1992, there was really no difference in terms of the level of authoritarianism of the average Democrat and the average Republican," he tells me. "What's happened over the past quarter century is what a lot of political scientists call a 'sorting process,' where the non-authoritarians have increasingly gravitated from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, and a lot of authoritarians have gravitated from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. In a nutshell, this has been a long complicated process that has played out over 40 years."
Authoritarians, he says, are not "particularly interested in the conservative economic agenda. They [are] not necessarily in favor of smaller government or lower taxes. The pieces of what has become modern conservatism that attracted them are more these kind of 'Us vs. Them' issues" and "Trump has really zeroed in, quite precisely, on what authoritarians care about, and what they don't care about."
While Weiler says he doesn't believe the GOP has been specifically targeting such followers, the gravitation to the Republican Party for authoritarians is the results of the party's specific messages about fear and division over recent decades. "Trump feels like he is the Republican id come to life. In that regard, he is in many ways a kind of logical extension of a dynamic that's been underway for a long time," he explains. "There's a kind of dance that goes on between elites and their followers. Elites come up with these 'Us vs. Them' messages --- these messages that attract authoritarians --- and they cultivate a base. And then that base turns around and says, 'all right, you've got our attention, you've promised to deliver on these issues, and now we expect you to'. So the monster, if you will, that the Republican Party created was in a very strongly authoritarian base that Donald Trump --- whether by instinct or consciously, I don't really know --- he's been the guy who's really taken advantage of that."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report covering, among a bunch of other stuff, the shocking death of a Big Oil CEO on the day after he was indicted on criminal conspiracy charges...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)