Friday, August 5, 2016

Authoritarianism & The Election

From Arnold Kling's always thoughtful Askblog, in response to a commenter's question:

Should Trump win the election, he will take it as proof of his infallible instincts. How does an infallible man behave in a position of power? A bit like Hitler, no?
Arnold writes:
1. The nature of the Presidency, as an elected office occupied by a single individual, lends itself to authoritarianism. It inspires awe among journalists, worship among citizens, and sycophancy among aides. It selects for narcissists.

2. I think that in the United States, the “Overton Window” has moved mostly in the authoritarian direction over the last century.

. . .

7. Because Barack Obama is convinced of his own absolute moral righteousness, he acts as if his instincts were infallible. Thus, I believe that he meets the commenter’s definition of authoritarian. Of course, those who share Mr. Obama’s outlook would say that he has merely responded appropriately to Republican obstruction.

8. By my definition, Mr. Trump speaks like an authoritarian.

9. However, I am more worried that the country will move in authoritarian direction if Mrs. Clinton wins. Many in Mr. Trump’s own party are opposed to his authoritarianism. Not so with Mrs. Clinton and her party. She is Nixon without anyone to play the role of Howard Baker [an elder statesman of the same party willing to stand up to a President].

10. Hitler was more than an authoritarian (by my definition). He used murder and physical intimidation to try to eliminate all opposition. I am not worried about either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton doing that.
You can read the entire post here.

Arnold's thoughts pretty much encompass my own on the subject, with the exception that I am more worried about Republican elected officials ultimately falling in line with Trump than he seems to be, although he is correct that many in the party and in conservative ranks oppose his authoritarian instincts.  Then, again, in Trump's case it depends if we're dealing with Dr Donald or Mr Trump.

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