This comes some 24 hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made big news by telling Fox News Sunday that if the special counsel finds evidence of crimes in the course of his probe into Russian sabotage of our election – it may be within the scope of his investigation to pursue them.
In these seemingly disparate developments it is hard not to discern the potential for a volatile combustible combination.
Because Trump is undermining our democratic norms and processes in so many ways it is often easy to focus on each of them in isolation rather than as part of the same larger story.
But taken together they point to a possible climax in which Trump – cornered by revelations unearthed by Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and by ongoing media scrutiny – seeks to rally his supporters behind the idea that this outcome represents not the imposition of accountability by functioning civic institutions but rather an effort to steal the election from him – and from them.
This echoed Trump himself – who recently told a rally that the probe is an effort to ‘cheat’ his supporters out of their legitimately elected leadership (i.e., him) with a ‘fake story’ that is ‘demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution’.
Given their extreme devotion and unwavering admiration for their highly unpredictable and often inflammatory leader – some have turned to the field of psychology for scientific explanations based on precise quantitative data and established theoretical frameworks.
In a recent review paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology – Psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew argues that five major psychological phenomena can help explain this exceptional political event.
1. Authoritarian Personality Syndrome
Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others.
Authoritarian personality syndrome—a well-studied and globally-prevalent condition—is a state of mind that is characterized by belief in total and complete obedience to one’s authority.
Those with the syndrome often display aggression toward outgroup members – submissiveness to authority – resistance to new experiences and a rigid hierarchical view of society.
The syndrome is often triggered by fear – making it easy for leaders who exaggerate threat or fear monger to gain their allegiance.
Although authoritarian personality is found among liberals it is more common among the right-wing around the world.
President Trump’s speeches – which are laced with absolutist terms like ‘losers’ and ‘complete disasters’ are naturally appealing to those with the syndrome.
Things get ugly fast at a ‘March for Trump’ in Phoenix Arizona.
Maricopa County burnished its reputation as the Trumpiest in America last weekend as hundreds of locals – including heavily armed militamen – white nationalists and even a few elected officials – gathered to support the 45th president.
The ensuing ‘March for Trump’ was as horrifying as it sounds.
‘I heard ‘lock her up – lock her up’ and we still need to pursue that’ announced Arizona Rep. Anthony Kern; a nod to a prominent Trump campaign promise to imprison then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
‘If you don’t like it here – go to Syria – go to someplace else’ one attendee shouted.
‘I don’t want ’em – as a veteran I don’t want ’em – let ’em go back home’ another seconded.
‘If they’ve got a problem let Saudi Arabia take care of ’em’.
The Nazi salute – recently derided- should be taken seriously and should be worrying.
During a Nov. 22 celebration of Donald Trump’s election triumph members of a far-right organization the National Policy Institute were filmed extending a stiff arm in the iconic ‘Heil Hitler’ salute of Nazi Germany.
Ensuring there would be no mistaking the gesture – National Policy Institute President Richard Spencer shouted ‘Hail Trump – hail our people – hail victory!’
The embattled GOP nominee represents the last stand for an entire generation of conservative white men — RIP!
The presidential election of 2016 has not involved a public policy debate as much as it has chronicled the ongoing struggle of Donald Trump to resemble a sentient and literate human being.
As he continues to fail it becomes increasingly clear that the reality television star, and his group of goblin advisors – Rudy Giuliani – Newt Gingrich – Chris Christie – Steve Bannon – represent the last gasp of the white conservative baby boomer.Throughout the 1970s ’80s and ’90s the straight white male boomer’s story enjoyed cultural hegemony.To live as one of these men was to have an all-access VIP laminate around your neck and a lifetime permission slip in your pocket.You could view and treat women as toys for your personal amusement – denigrate gay men as freaks fit for the circus and stratify men of other races into a category of inherent inferiority.Life was good for the white male boomer but suddenly it all started to end.Uppity blacks started to demand liberty and inclusion.‘Nasty’ women began to assert themselves as equals and LGBT people demonstrated themselves to be ‘normal’ folks as capable of achievement and decency as anyone else.Each morning the conservative white boomer wakes up realizing that his story matters a little less than it did the day before.
Faced with the erosion of their cultural power – coinciding with their own mortality – conservative white boomers could adjust and adapt to reality – keeping an open mind to new developments – while welcoming the diversification of American institutions – still cognizant of the amazing run of prosperity and influence they enjoyed.
Or they could throw a temper tantrum.
Most of them – already detached from the real world – opted for the latter.