Placing Trump in Comparative Perspective

I would highly recommend the following from Pippa Norris:  It’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising across the West. Here’s why.  (Norris is an expert on comparative politics and elections).

It is a long piece (for a newspaper column/blog post), but is worth a read.  Not to encourage skipping the essay, I will post the conclusion:

By giving voice to and amplifying fears of cultural change, the Republicans have opened the way for a populist leader. Trump’s support appears to be fueled by a backlash among traditionalists (often men and the less educated) faced with rising American support for issues such as gay marriage, sexual equality, and tolerance of social diversity, all lumped under the phrase “political correctness.” Looking back, we can see precursors to the Trump movement, like the tea party.

Whether or not Trump is elected, he and his followers have articulated a new brutalism and intolerance, altering what’s speakable in American politics.

While the Trump phenomenon mirrors what’s happened elsewhere, most Western parliamentary democracies have many safeguards in place, so that even when populist authoritarian parties surge, they remain limited in seats and thus real power.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Quick Takes, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    So since men have relatively lost social/cultural power in the last few decades, men are more likely to support authoritarian populism.

    That makes sense. Just from personal dealings, telling guys they are privileged when they’ve been struggling and have seen the landscape change from childhood to adulthood to tearing down the White Male as an exemplar doesn’t open their minds to persuasion. They are privileged, but like a fish in water they don’t perceive it. They definitely feel a downward slide though.

    The WVS asked whether Americans approved of “having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with congress or elections.” The figure below shows a consistent education gap and growing support for this statement since 2005.

    This is scary.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    It may be unfair privilege they have lost, or maybe just lost an incorrect perception of privilege, but it is still a loss and a genuine feeling of loss.

    When I read The Conservative Mind I discovered Kirk blamed enclosure, urbanization, and industrialization on liberals. Stuff happens. Things change. I call it the Kirk Fallacy to blame it all on liberals. In politics it’s very easy to get people to blame Democrats for any change they don’t like. Gay rights – liberals. Globalization – liberals. ISIS – liberals. Traffic – liberals. Establishment conservatives are even blaming Obama for Donald Trump. If they ever concede AGW they’ll blame liberals.

  3. KM says:

    @Tillman:

    tearing down the White Male as an exemplar doesn’t open their minds to persuasion

    Sour grapes make bitter wine…. or should I say whine? No one likes going from top of the food chain to one of the crowd but it really speaks to the inherent entitlement mentality of men like that that the operant belief is now The World As We Know It Is Ending So Burn It All. That they need to be persuaded in the first place because their participation matters. If they can’t accept they’re not Number One, they can go sit in the corner while Number Two through Seven Billion walk on by. They are not necessary for the world to work and its high time they realized it.

    seen the landscape change from childhood to adulthood

    That’s everybody, ever. No culture is unchanging and major shifts are more frequent then commonly thought. My great-grandparents watched the world electrified, my grandparents saw women enter the workplace while the men went to Europe, my parents saw the world wired and privacy become a debatable concept. Nostalgia spares no one; it lies to all.

  4. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :

    It may be unfair privilege they have lost, or maybe just lost an incorrect perception of privilege, but it is still a loss and a genuine feeling of loss.

    The feeling of loss is not being questioned; feelings are not inherently right or wrong, they just are. Its how the feeling is expressed that’s being held against them. They can grieve however they need, lament their loss, fume about the future and dream of old glory days….. but not to screw up or screw over others to preserve their sense of self. A frustrated child is not wrong for being upset or crying at being told No but they go to time out fast when they start wrecking the place to lash out.

    Play the game and win, don’t flip the board and ragequit.

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    This is simply lazy writing by Norris, trying to shoehorn Trump into what’s going on in Europe. I know it’s CW that support is among less-educated white men. It’s also simply not true. He’s getting a lot of support from educated people, non-Republicans, etc. And Trump almost never talks about culture war issues if he can avoid it (and as twice-divorced philanderer, that’s probably wise). What he’s capitalizing on is more economic uncertainty than anything else.

  6. Tillman says:

    @KM:

    That they need to be persuaded in the first place because their participation matters. If they can’t accept they’re not Number One, they can go sit in the corner while Number Two through Seven Billion walk on by.

    Or they can act out violently despite such reprimands and threaten social stability. You can’t tell an entire class of people to sit in a corner, imply they have no worth, and expect good things to come of it. That’s not how you persuade people. And yes, the ideal in a democracy is that you persuade people to your thinking, and it helps when persuading people not to minimize their concerns with flippant dismissals about them “whining” or compare their reaction to children throwing tantrums. Resorting to the soft authoritarianism of the status quo (“That’s how the world is, deal with it”) will cause them to cope in ways we will not like.

    I mean, we’re already dealing with an alarming number of people backing a damn pseudofascist, cheering at debates over his excuses for low-grade political violence. I don’t want to see where that goes.

    That’s everybody, ever. No culture is unchanging and major shifts are more frequent then commonly thought.

    Not everyone perceives all cultural changes over the past two or three decades as having been to their detriment, however. If everyone did, we’d be looking at an honest revolution, not a half-assed Sanders “revolution.”

  7. Scott says:

    @Tillman: You can’t tell an entire class of people to sit in a corner, imply they have no worth, and expect good things to come of it.

    This is exactly right. These are people who feel, rightly or wrongly, powerless. To tell them to suck it up and adapt is to ask them to accomplish what they feel they cannot do. To dance on their demise like so many writers seem to be doing is just an act of spite.

    Right now, the powerless are looking to someone who may make them have power again. And they look to exercise power over the few that may be even less powerful: the immigrants, the minorities, and the poor. If we don’t like that, then we need to give them an alternative.

    As has been pointed out in other threads, the out sourcing of decent jobs has impacted more than just the White Working Class. It is in the interest of the powerful to pit the powerless against each other and that is just what is happening.

    I hate to use the Nazi analogy but that is exactly what happened after WWI. The working class revolted against the German aristocracy/ upper class and the destruction they brought. There was both left and right strains. Hitler exploited the resentments by channelling hatred to Jews and Communists. His rise was preventable if not for the collusion of the aristocracy and eventually, the Lutheran establishment.

  8. KM says:

    @Tillman:

    Resorting to the soft authoritarianism of the status quo (“That’s how the world is, deal with it”) will cause them to cope in ways we will not like.

    You’re right. That kind of mentality is how we ended up with the gains that are being complained about. Telling women its a man’s world and that’s how it’s always been lead to feminisim. Telling gays to “live with it” because of traditional marriage lead to SSM (civil unions was the original goal but the court route DOMA forced gave America the whole shebang). Telling minorities all due speed to taking care of their concerns because we need to “persuade” people to accept it and not upset mainstream society. Look at the heroin epidemic that freaking out white suburbia – they act like it’s suddenly a massive problem when it’s been a problem for a very long time. It just their kids dying now instead of the “junkie” in the slums.

    What’s happening is the soft authoritarianism of the status quo is now being turned on those who used it to keep others down. Anyone who invokes traditional anything is appealing to this concept.

    You can’t tell an entire class of people to sit in a corner, imply they have no worth, and expect good things to come of it.

    They’re being told they are not inherently better then anyone else, you have to share, you don’t get to jump the line anymore, a rising tide lifts all boats. They’re hearing go sit in the corner, they’re worthless, they’re being put down, someone gaining is their loss. There’s no way to persuade someone who can’t or won’t admit that they are not the center of the world – that’s a realization they need to make themselves.

    Meanwhile, the world can’t stop for them to get their stuff together. Its not right or fair to expect others to put their lives, rights and futures on hold till White Working Class has a Come to Jesus moment. Globe keeps on spinning whether they try to pull a Galt or not.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    You can’t tell an entire class of people to sit in a corner, imply they have no worth, and expect good things to come of it.

    Indeed…that has been happening to multiple groups in this country throughout its history…now the shoe is on the other foot and it is happening to a particular group that isn’t used to it…we’ll see how they cope with it compared to how other groups have coped with it…

  10. Tillman says:

    @KM:

    You’re right. That kind of mentality is how we ended up with the gains that are being complained about.

    Yes. That mentality of being oppressed caused political activism. Just at a guess, I’m thinking you don’t appreciate conservative political activism? There are precious few abortion clinics left in Texas, for one.

    Its not right or fair to expect others to put their lives, rights and futures on hold till White Working Class has a Come to Jesus moment.

    That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not advocating we slow progress so they can catch up or get comfortable with change at their own pace. (You can’t just stop culture.) I’m saying our first and only response shouldn’t be condescending. You can’t say in one instance they should go sit in a corner, and then claim in another it wouldn’t matter if you said anything else because they’d take it the same. I’ve spent the majority of my life around working class people, and if I’ve learned anything about an identity group on a slide in cultural prestige, it’s that presuming they’re incapable of reason and condescending to them as immature is the best way to get them to ignore everything you say. Which has this neat reciprocal effect: making people think the working class is self-centered and stubborn.

  11. Tillman says:

    @An Interested Party: When whites ignored blacks’ demands for justice (after only a century of oppression and some two before then of outright denying their humanity), it resulted in nationwide rioting. Communication tech is much faster nowadays, and there are networks to reinforce grievances. I’d rather avoid rioting. Tone policing won’t do it all, but it’s a first step.

  12. Bart W says:

    I am not a Trump supporter at all but I work with a bunch of Trump supporters and know many people who support him and almost all of the comments miss the mark and miss it big. They are supporting Trump because of the loss of jobs, opportunities, and the feeling of alienation within the places that they grew up. Trump supporters are not a mobile bunch. They lost their good job at the factory, they children can’t get a good job and are loaded with student loan debt and living with them, and now in their neighborhood they can’t speak to all of their neighbors because their neighbors and them don’t speak the same languages, they don’t have decent health care so go to the emergency room and are in line with people who did not enter the country legally, and then they are told that they are the privileged group and they need to sit down shut up and check their privilege. It makes no sense to them because they are suffering just like all the other poor less educated people and their appearance has never had them accepted in polite society anyway. So yes they are mad, Trump is reaching out and tapping this madness, and they have good reason to be mad. The political system has failed them, they are belittled by everyone as rubes even when they have legitimate grievances, and they are holding on to anything they think can help them. It is sad. It is even worse because Trump is only playing on their sentiments and they can’t actually do anything for htem.

  13. Tony W says:

    @Bart W: Ah yes, the eternal victimhood of the poor, white male. It’s been a theme in the US since at least slavery.