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The Shutdown as Fascist Creep: Profiling Right-Wing Extremism in America

The government shutdown over Trump’s proposed southern border wall is a teachable moment, speaking to the danger of rising fascism in America. Contrary to prominent scholarly efforts, I do not believe it is useful to draw a dividing line between Trump’s politics on the one hand, and white supremacy and fascist ideology on the other. [1] Trump may not officially call for an exclusively white ethno-state in his speeches or proposals, but he has long straddled the line between hateful far-right ideology and fascism in his rhetoric and policies. Considering his flirtation with the white supremacist “alt-right” movement and his authoritarian politics more generally, it makes sense to speak of American politics under Trump as falling victim to “creeping” fascism. This classification is not new, as the concept of “fascist creep” is drawn from previous journalistic and historical works. [2]

Trump’s efforts to bully Congress into funding his wall draw on classic elements of totalitarianism and fascism. But in “mainstream” American political discourse, warnings that Trump’s politics speak to a nascent fascism and represent a threat to republican government tend to be marginalized, leaving the impression that these concerns are alarmist and paranoid. For example, in the New York Times– the nation’s “paper of record,” the terms “fascist” and “fascism” are infrequently applied to Trump. An analysis of the Nexis Uninews archive finds that the terms appeared alongside discussions of Trump (within 50 words of references to the president) in 67 articles included in all segments of the newspaper throughout 2018. By comparison, moderately less incendiary references to “authoritarian” politics or “authoritarianism” and Trump appeared in 194 articles – almost three times as often. But it’s not fashionable to depict Trump in fascistic terms, despite journalists and pundits recognizing his authoritarian tendencies.

Considering the ahistorical nature of American popular political culture, it’s worth establishing a working definition of fascism. Historian Kevin Passmore discusses various “features” of fascism, including “ultranationalism”; public reliance on a dictatorial single-party politics and on leaders who exhibit “charismatic leadership”; an embrace of racist and antisemitic prejudices; and support for paramilitarism and violence against government critics. [3] Passmore notes that fascism is “reactionary” in its opposition to leftist politics, liberal democracy, and socialism. [4]

Historian Robert Paxton lists various “mobilizing passions,” which serve as the foundation for fascism. These include: efforts to construct popular notions of “crisis,” in order to cultivate public support for concentrated political power; portrayals of specific groups as “victim[s]” in a larger national cultural and political “decline”; the elevation of “a purer community” to the top of national discourse and aspirations, which typically excludes racial, ethnic, and economically disadvantaged groups; embrace of specific “natural leaders” and “a national chief” as inherently “superior” in their political “instincts”; and the idealization of the “beauty of violence” – particularly via efforts to “dominate others without restraint.” [5]

Critical theorist and cultural critic Henry Giroux writes of the danger of “neoliberal fascism” within the American political context. In a recent essay, he describes its characteristics: the commitment to erasing history and critical lessons of the past; an assault on the rule of law; attacks on the media – which fit within the broader assault on truth, facts, and history; indulgence in the “rhetoric of white supremacy”; efforts to punish disadvantaged groups via xenophobic attacks on immigrants, disciplining the poor, and demonizing racial and religious minorities; and a “flirtation with violence” against one’s political critics and enemies. [6] As Giroux warns in American Nightmare, fascistic leaders seek to subvert enlightenment principles of truth and fact – “to derail the architectural foundations of reason in order construct a false reality and alternative political universe in which there are only competing fictions and the emotional appeal of shock theater.” [7] Contemporary fascism, Giroux writes, embraces the “malleability of truth” in pursuit of the agendas of those holding political and economic power. [8]

Based on the above definitions, the parallels between historical fascism and Trump’s politics are difficult to ignore, particularly on the controversy over the wall with Mexico. Trump has invoked crisis, xenophobia, and security, announcing that “we desperately need border security and a wall on the southern border” in order “to stop drugs, human trafficking, gang members, and criminals from coming into our country.” [9] In a fit of Orwellian propaganda, he demonizes Congressional Democrats by placing responsibility for the deaths of detained children [on his watch] solely at their feet:

“Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a wall, they wouldn’t even try!” [10]

This demonization, coupled with Trump’s calls to “Make America Great Again,” suggest that his definition of “America” idealizes one party rule and the marginalization of competing political actors, celebration of reactionary nationalism, and hatred of non-white “others.” Additional components of fascism in Trump’s fixation with the wall include his efforts to punish unauthorized immigrants via his calls for a “wall” that utilizes an ominous “steel slats” spike design. [11] Here, Trump invokes a surreal level of cartoonish villainy – channeling images of Vlad the Impaler in his symbolic (and very real) assault on immigrants from Latin America and Mexico. In another sign of rising fascism, Trump displays contempt for the rule of law when he threatens to revoke birthright citizenship for the children of unauthorized immigrants in violation of the 14thAmendment, and via his threat to “close the southern border entirely if the obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the wall.” [12] The latter action would also violate federal law, preventing Americans and legal immigrants from entering or re-entering the country.

A point of distinction between historical fascist regimes and the Trump administration relates to rhetoric versus action – with the president’s fascistic politics being – in significant part – aspirational. [13] Trump is notorious for his flirtations with various dictators throughout the world, who he sees as strong men who are adored by their people. [14] Trump’s politics have long been authoritarian in flare. But it’s one thing to call for the criminalization of journalists – which Trump did when declaring the New York Times“treasonous” for printing a critical anonymous op-ed from a member of the administration – while also threatening to ignore federal immigration law, and quite another to follow through with this rhetoric in practice. [15] The danger of “creeping” fascism moving forward is that the Trump administration will intensify its assault on the rule of law and become even more militant in its attacks against critics and principles of limited government and democracy.

Even if one takes the establishment position that Trump is no fascist and that all his authoritarian rhetoric is hot-air, there is still the big-picture concern with the rise of fascism in American political culture. Creeping fascism is about much more than a single leader; it’s about the legacy that Trump leaves behind when he is no longer in power, and about decades of radicalization of the American right via right via media indoctrination and extremism. The rise of rightwing authoritarianism will not simply be wiped away if Trump is impeached or defeated in 2020. It will persist so long as reactionary media traffic in racial, ethnic, religious, and classist bigotry. And it will remain prominent in national politics when Republicans normalize the fascist tendencies of Trump by placing their own partisan concerns with winning political power and elections over valuing individual rights and the rule of law.

Neoliberal Fascism as a Template for Contemporary Extremism

Outside of Trump’s manufactured immigration crisis, there remains the larger threat that Giroux warns of: neoliberal fascism. It’s a sign of a degenerate intellectual culture that American popular discourse, in its radically truncated capacity, automatically links fascism to Nazism. There have been many different versions of fascistic politics throughout Western history outside of the most extreme example of Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Third Reich. In other words, fascism is hardly an exotic concept; it’s been building in America for decades via the rise of rightwing indoctrination and extremism. In the United States, rising fascism has become intertwined with neoliberal politics via overlapping assaults on the rule of law and against disadvantaged peoples, and in the enrichment of corporate interests and the American plutocracy. Ultimately, neoliberal fascism is about imposing a political-economic agenda that serves the rich, while strengthening a governing system working against the masses. This system seeks to discipline the poor, religious minorities, people of color, and anyone else who steps out of line by protesting the political-economic status quo. These groups – if effectively organized – pose a serious threat to the neoliberal order. But with Trump, creeping fascism is deemed the “solution” to suppressing this democratic threat to American plutocracy.

To better understand the threat of nascent fascism, I undertook an original analysis of national polls that surveyed Americans on extremist political positions. Recent empirical work has done much to expose rising right-wing extremism. Political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler find that authoritarian values are more likely to be embraced by individuals on the American right. [16] Similarly, political scientist Matthew MacWilliams’ analysis in Politicofinds that authoritarian parenting values are statistically linked to increased support for Trump. [17] Drawing on Theodor Adorno’s work on fascism, sociologists David Norman Smith and Eric Hanley address the importance of two traits – aggressiveness and submissiveness – in driving American authoritarianism. [18] Smith and Hanley measure public opinion on two authoritarian assertions:

+ “Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our forefathers, do what authorities tell us to do, and get rid of the ‘rotten apples’ who are ruining everything.”

+ “What our country really needs is a strong and determined leader who will crush evil and take us back to our true path.”

They find that these authoritarian values are significantly linked to increased public support for Trump, in line with the president’s own authoritarian beliefs and politics. [19]

Smith’s and Hanley’s authoritarianism scale is useful in exposing the underlying undemocratic, repressive elements that drive support for Trump. I expand on their findings, by examining how aggressiveness against perceived enemies and submissiveness to strong leaders both impact whether Americans express approval of the Trump administration. But I also go beyond these two traits, incorporating various elements of fascistic ideology into my examination of the factors driving Trump support. In measuring Trump supporters’ attitudes toward neoliberal governance, I looked at the January 2016, July 2017, and December 2017 national Pew Research Center surveys. These polls included the following questions regarding poverty and racial and economic inequality:

+ “Should dealing with the problems of poor and needy people be a top priority, important but lower priority, not too important, or should it not be done?” (January 2016).

+ “How big a problem, if at all, is economic inequality in this country today?” (July 2017).

+ “In America, are conflicts between poor people and rich people” and “between whites and blacks” “very strong conflicts, strong conflicts, not very strong conflicts, or there are not conflicts?” (December 2017).

On the authoritarian-fascist front, Pew included survey questions that each captured some aspect of these ideologies in their February 2017 and March 2018 national surveys:

On the rule of law, freedom of the press, and individual rights:“How important is it to maintaining a strong democracy in the United States: that news organizations are free to criticize political leaders” (“very, somewhat, not too, or not at all important”) (February 2017).

On checks and balances and the rule of law:“Which comes closer to your view…Many of the country’s problems could be dealt with more effectively if U.S. presidents didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts,” or “It would be too risky to give U.S. presidents more power to deal directly with many of the country’s problems.” (February 2017; March 2018).

On violence against “others”:“Some people think targeting and killing civilians can be justified in order to further a political, social, or religious cause. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence can never be justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?” (February 2017).

On the assault on immigrants: “All in all, would you favor or oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico?” (February 2017).

On extreme nationalism: “We’d like you to compare the United States to other developed nations in a few different areas. What about its political system?” (“best in the world”; “above average”; “average”; “below average”) (March 2018).

Each of the above traits speaks to one component of American fascism. When combining these measures to examine how they jointly relate to Trump support, I can better gauge how fascism as a multi-faceted ideology relates to the American right.

A simple analysis of the survey items above reveals that the concern with fascism in Trump’s America is warranted. Twenty-one percent of Trump supporters agreed in 2017 that the use of violence against civilians was acceptable in pursuit of political, social, and religious goals – in line with the longstanding embrace of such acts on the Christian reactionary right and among right-wing militia groups in America. Twenty-eight percent of Trump supporters in 2017, and 30 percent in 2018 agreed that the president should be freed from Constitutional checks and balances imposed by Congress and the courts in order to pursue his political agenda. Eighty-three percent of supporters agreed with the creation of the “wall” between the U.S. and Mexico. Another 32 percent felt that the U.S. political system is the best in the world. Finally, 19 percent of supporters agreed that freedom of the press is not too important or not at all important, contrary to longstanding First Amendment protections for journalists against media censorship. Other measures outside those considered here suggest that Trump supporters’ and Republicans’ authoritarianism is even more severe, with about half of Republicans agreeing that the 2020 election should be postponed in light of Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, that the news media are the “enemy of the people” and that news outlets should be “shut down” if they are perceived to be trafficking in “inaccurate” or fake news. [20] The focus on Republican authoritarianism is obviously relevant to Trumpian authoritarianism, considering the vast majority of Republicans approve of the president when asked in surveys. [21]

While about half of Republicans and Trump supporters endorse political authoritarianism in one form or another, the number of openly fascist supporters is not as high, but disturbing, nonetheless. Seventeen percent of Trump supporters in 2018 endorsed both extreme nationalism and contempt for checks and balances between the president and the other branches. Twenty-four percent supported the creation of Trump’s wall, while also holding contempt for Constitutional checks and balances (2018). Between those supporting violence, and those embracing both extreme nationalism and attacks on Constitutional checks and balances, these polls suggest that about one-in-four to one-in-five Trump supporters endorse fascist politics. Furthermore, many seem content in their contempt for the rule of law, with 15 percent of the president’s supporters (2017) recognizing that Trump doesn’t care about democracy but endorsing him all the same.

Authoritarian and fascistic political views are held by large numbers of Trump supporters. But how significant are these attitudes in driving Trump support? Using statistical “regression” analysis, I isolate the predictive power of each of the above attitudes in increasing Trump support, after accounting for (or “controlling” for) other demographic factors, by holding each constant at its average value. [22] These “control” factors include respondents’ political party affiliation, self-declared ideology, gender, age, education, race, and income. My results suggest that authoritarian and fascistic sentiments are significant predictors of support for Trump in all of the analyses undertaken. More specifically, I find that, after controlling for the demographic factors above, fascistic and authoritarian beliefs predict Trump support in the following ways:

+ Contempt for checks and balances between the branches of government was accompanied by a 26 percent increased likelihood of supporting Trump in 2018, and 33 percent increased likelihood in 2017. [23]

+ Embracing violence against perceived enemies was associated with an 11 percent increased likelihood of supporting Trump. [24]

+ Contempt for media freedom was associated with a 33 percent greater likelihood of being a Trump supporter. [25]

Respondents’ embrace of fascistic politics, as embodied by their support for numerous authoritarian positions, is even more strongly associated with Trump support, after controlling for other demographic factors. In other words, as fascistic values intensify, so too does support for Trump:

+ Those endorsing political violence, holding contempt for checks and balances, and rejecting media freedom were 45 percent more likely to approve of Trump (2017). [26]

+ Being Republican, endorsing extreme nationalism, and holding contempt for checks and balances was associated with being 51 percent more likely to support Trump (2018). [27]

+ Finally, those endorsing both the wall and holding contempt for checks and balances were 63 percent more likely to approve of Trump (2018). [28]

+ Trump support is also heavily defined by a neoliberal component. In the case of attitudes toward the poor and people of color, Trump supporters were notable in terms of their lack of concern. My analysis of survey data from 2016 through 2018 finds that Trump supporters indicated little interest in the problems of the poor or black Americans, and they were not strongly concerned with inequality in America.

I uncovered the following statistical findings via “regression” analysis, which remain after controlling for respondents’ political party, ideology, gender, age, education, race, and income. First, individuals who agreed in the 2016 primary season that the problems of the poor and needy should not be a serious priority or a priority at all were significantly more likely to support Trump. Those refusing to recognize the problems of the poor and needy were about 50 percent more likely to support Trump’s presidential candidacy. [29] Second, those recognizing that inequality is a big problem in America were not significantly more likely to indicate support for Trump in mid-2017. Only 24 percent of Trump supporters said rising inequality between “rich and poor” was a “very big problem,” compared to 64 percent of non-Trump supporters.

Finally, Trump support was significantly linked to an increased likelihood of agreeing that conflicts between rich and poor, and between blacks and whites, were not very strong. [30] In December of 2017, 58 percent of Trump supporters agreed that there was not strong conflict between rich and poor, while 48 percent agreed strong conflict was not evident between blacks and whites. In contrast, just 28 percent and 26 percent of non-Trump supporters respectively agreed that strong conflicts did not exist between rich and poor and blacks and whites.

There is little evidence here to suggest that Trump supporters are angry at the neoliberal political-economic status quo. If they were, they would be more likely to recognize the plight of those who have lost out on the rising prosperity associated with recent economic growth and record corporate profits in America. But this isn’t the case. Trump supporters lack interest in the problems of people of color, the poor, and in inequality more generally. This disinterest is compatible with a neoliberal “leave it to the market” approach to political governance. This disinterest overlaps with prevailing conservative-reactionary stereotypes that the poor are “undeserving” of aid due to their “laziness” and their (alleged) efforts to “game” and “abuse” social welfare benefits. Increasing social welfare benefits, as the neoliberal ethos tell us, is simply a waste of taxpayer resources, and an unnecessary confiscation of the tax dollars of “hardworking” Americans. There is little indication in any of these findings that the neoliberals who comprise much of Trump’s base are committed to government action aimed at aiding the poor or reducing poverty and inequality.

Lessons for American Politics and Society

None of my findings suggest that all Republicans or Trump supporters are fascists. Half of Republicans refuse to lend their support to authoritarian measures aimed at assaulting American elections or limiting press freedom. And most Trump supporters are not openly fascist in their politics. Still, that roughly one-fifth to one-quarter are openly fascist is a massive red flag in-and-of-itself. These individuals provide comfort to the president and his reactionary, creeping fascist political agenda. Their consumption and endorsement of reactionary media adds fuel to the fire for the increasingly public displays of fascist-sympathy observed in news outlets like Fox News, and among the army of right-wing talk radio pundits in America.

To get a better sense of the gravity of the threat I’ve addressed, it helps to look at the hard numbers of Americans who embrace authoritarian and fascistic politics. With approximately 250 million adults in the United States, with 25 percent self-identifying as Republican, and with half of those individuals supporting attacks on elections and the press, this means that approximately 30 million Americans endorse the Republican Party and Trump’s brand of authoritarian politics. [31] Approximately 40 percent of American adults approve of Trump in national surveys, and about one-fifth to one-fourth of Trump supporters embrace fascistic politics in some form, amounting to a staggering 20 to 25 million American fascists. [32] With these numbers, it should not be surprising that the United States is experiencing its own crisis of right-wing, paramilitary-based fascism, as seen in the rise of routine mass shootings and domestic terrorist attacks – two-thirds of which are perpetrated by well-armed members of the reactionary right. [33] These ominous statistics suggest that the discussion of “creeping fascism” may be somewhat misplaced, as we appear to be well into the era of full-blown, citizen-driven fascism.

Sadly, few intellectuals, scholars, journalists, or political officials have managed to connect the dots. Few officials have linked efforts to regulate guns to the larger issue of terrorism and fascism on the American right. And news reports often refer to these shooters as “lone” wolves. [34] This language itself plays into creeping fascism, as the “lone wolf” label is typically reserved for whites who engage in mass shootings, while Muslims engaged in such acts are widely referred to as terrorists. [35] We need to get past the extremely naïve and racist “lone” wolf narrative when discussing rightwing extremism. Recent research finds that “lone wolf” shooters are hardly alone, as they draw on reactionary online social media communities and other rightwing sources of information in the radicalization process. [36]

Fascism has become a permanent feature of American political culture. It’s not going anywhere, because it’s been incrementally nurtured and fed by the far right, and particularly by conspiracy-laden reactionary media, for decades. With the rise of Donald Trump to national power, American fascists now have one of their own in office and can look to him for inspiration moving forward. Even if Trump is defeated in 2020, his influence is unlikely to disappear from public discourse. Nor are the tens of millions of fascists who made his rise to political power possible going to simply go away.

If there is a silver lining associated with the fascist creep, it’s that Trump’s election has catalyzed mass opposition to his presidency. Gallup polling found that Trump’s disapproval rating in late 2018 ranged between 55 to 60 percent, and Pew polling revealed that between 56 to 59 percent of Americans agreed from 2017 to 2018 that Trump had little to no “respect” for “this country’s democratic institutions and traditions.” [37] This suspicion of Trump is hardly overwhelming, but it does speak to principled anti-authoritarianism on the part of the mass public. Furthermore, the sentiment that Trump is anti-democratic is a significant predictor of opposition to the president. After “controlling” for other factors including ideology, gender, age, education, race, and income, anger at Trump’s contempt for democracy was associated with an 86 percent increased likelihood of disapproving of the president in 2017, and a 92 percent increased likelihood of disapproval in 2018. [38] In other words, principled anti-authoritarianism was a much stronger predictor of opinions toward Trump than were authoritarian or fascist attitudes, which speaks to the galvanization of intense opposition to the president throughout his first term, and to the polarization of the mass public on the problem of creeping fascism.

Defeating American fascism will require a sustained and militant effort on the part of government to reign in the power of well-armed and deranged right-wing militants, who have no qualms about using violence to attain their political goals. It will also require a fundamental reorienting of American media and education systems to effectively spotlight and combat creeping and full-blown fascist threats, and to intellectually challenge the assumptions that drive neoliberal and authoritarian belief systems. The U.S. can continue down the road of rising fascism, which will most certainly end in travesty and the destruction of what little remains of democratic government, individual rights, and the rule of law. Or we can shift our priorities toward returning sanity to national discourse and politics, via a full-frontal assault on the forces of fascism. The longer we put off this choice, the more dangerous the threat from the reactionary right becomes.

Notes

[1] George Hawley, Making Sense of the Alt-Right(New York: Columbia University Press, 2017); George Hawley, The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know(New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

[2] David Niewert, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right (New York: Routledge, 2009); David Niewert, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (London: Verso, 2017); Alexander Reid Ross, Against the Fascist Creep (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2017).

[3] Kevin Passmore, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction(New York: Oxford University Press, 2014): 5.

[4] Passmore, Fascism, 2014: 16.

[5] Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism(New York: Vintage Books, 2004): 41.

[6] Henry A. Giroux, “Neoliberal Fascism and the Twilight of the Social,” Truthout, September 5, 2018, https://truthout.org/articles/neoliberal-fascism-and-the-twilight-of-the-social/

[7] Henry A. Giroux, American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism(San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2018): 74.

[8] Giroux, American Nightmare, 2018: 76.

[9] Jacob Pramuk, “Government Shutdown Likely to Extend into Next Year as Trump and Congress Fail to Break Border Wall Stalemate,” CNBC.com, December 27, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/27/trump-chides-democrats-over-border-wall-amid-government-shutdown.html

[10] Maggie Haberman, “Trump Blames Democrats over Deaths of Migrant Children in U.S. Custody,” New York Times, December 29, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/29/us/politics/trump-immigrant-children-deaths.html

[11] Donald J. Trump, “A Design of Our Steel Slat Barrier which is Totally Effective While at the Same Time Beautiful,” Twitter, December 21, 2018, https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1076239448461987841

[12] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “President Wants to Use Executive Order to End Birthright Citizenship,” New York Times, October 30, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/us/politics/trump-birthright-citizenship.html; Erin Durkin, “Trump Threatens to Shut Border ‘Entirely’ Unless Democrats Fund Wall,” Guardian, December 28, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/28/trump-mexico-border-wall-democrats-fund-shutdown

[13] William E. Connolly, Aspirational Fascism: The Struggle for Multifaceted Democracy under Trumpism (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

[14] Krishnadev Calamur, “Nine Notorious Dictators, Nine Shout-Outs From Donald Trump,” The Atlantic, March 4, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/03/trump-xi-jinping-dictators/554810/; Philip Rucker, “Trump Praises Kim’s Authoritarian Rule, Says ‘I Want My People to do the Same,’” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-praises-kims-authoritarian-rule-says-i-want-my-people-to-do-the-same/2018/06/15/cea20aa2-70a5-11e8-bf86-a2351b5ece99_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fa58afbe947a; Conor Friedersdorf, “Trump’s ‘Great Chemistry’ with Murderous Strongmen,” The Atlantic, June 13, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/06/trumps-great-chemistry-with-murderous-strongmen/562709/

[15] Billy Perrigo, “President Trump Calls New York Times ‘Virtually’ Treasonous for Publishing Anonymous Op-Ed,” Time, September 7, 2018, http://time.com/5389795/donald-trump-new-york-times-op-ed-virtually-treason/

[16] Marc Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

[17] Matthew MacWilliams, “The One Weird Trait that Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter,” Politico, January 17, 2016, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533

[18] Theodor Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Harper & Bros., 1950).

[19] David Norman Smith and Eric Hanley, “The Anger Games: Who Voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, and Why?” Critical Sociology, 44 no. 2 (2018): 195-212.

[20] Anthony DiMaggio, “Full-on Fascism: Trump Makes the Transition in his War on the Press,” Counterpunch, September 11, 2018, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/11/full-on-fascism-trump-makes-the-transition-in-his-war-on-the-press/; Anthony DiMaggio, “Fascist Nation: The ‘Alt-Right’ Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks,” Counterpunch, August 21, 2018, https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/21/fascist-nation-the-alt-right-menace-persists-despite-setbacks-2/

[21] For example, in the March 2018Pewsurvey analyzed here, nearly 8 in ten Republican Party supporters indicate that they also approve of the job Trump is doing as president. Other polling data finds that about 90 percent of self-identified Republicans approve of President Trump. For example, see: Gallup, “Presidential Approval Ratings – Donald Trump,” Gallup, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

[22] I utilize multiple regression analysis, specifically binary logistic regression, to analyze Pew survey data and predictors of support for and opposition to Donald Trump. I use the Clarify statistical program, and a first differences analysis to generate predicted values for each independent variable of interest, after holding the other independent variables constant at their means, and with movement of each individual variable from its minimum to maximum value.

[23] The relationship between contempt for checks and balances and Trump support is significant at the .1% level for 2017, and again at the .1% level for 2018.

[24] The relationship between support for violence and Trump support is significant at the 5 percent level.

[25] The relationship between contempt for media freedom and support for Trump is significant at the .1% level.

[26] The interactive relationship between support for violence, contempt for checks and balances, and contempt for media freedom and its relationship to Trump support is significant at the .1% level.

[27] The interactive relationship between support for extreme nationalism and contempt for checks and balances and its relationship to Trump support is significant at the .1% level.

[28] The interactive relationship between support for the wall and contempt for checks and balances, and its relationship to Trump support is significant at the .1% level.

[29]  The relationship between opinions about whether the problems of the poor and needy should be a priority and Trump support is significant at the .1% level.

[30]  The relationship between recognition that there is a serious conflict between rich and poor and Trump support is significant at the 1% level, while the relationship between recognition that there is serious conflict between blacks and whites and Trump support is significant at the 5 percent level.

[31] Mona Chalabi, “Who are the Three-Quarters of Adult Americans Who Didn’t Vote for Trump?” Guardian, January 18, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/18/american-non-voters-election-donald-trump; Gallup, “Party Affiliation,” Gallup.com, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx

[32] Gallup, “Trump Job Approval (Weekly),” Gallup.com, 2018, https://news.gallup.com/poll/203207/trump-job-approval-weekly.aspx 

[33] Janet Reitman, “U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop it,” New York Times Magazine, November 3, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/03/magazine/FBI-charlottesville-white-nationalism-far-right.html; Bill Morlin, “Study Shows Two-Thirds of U.S. Terrorism Tied to Right-Wing Extremists,” Southern Poverty Law Center, September 12, 2018, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/09/12/study-shows-two-thirds-us-terrorism-tied-right-wing-extremists

[34] Jason R. Silva and Joel A. Capellan, “A Comparative Analysis of Media Coverage of Mass Public Shootings: Examining Rampage, Disgruntled Employee, School, and Lone-Wolf Terrorist Shootings in the United States,” Criminal Justice Policy Review, July 16, 2018, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0887403418786556

[35] Jonathan M. Metzl, “When the Shooter is White,” Washington Post, October 6, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/06/when-the-shooter-is-white/?utm_term=.8aefbdaa9b37; Moustafa Bayoumi, “What’s a ‘Lone Wolf’? It’s the Special Name We Give White Terrorists,” Guardian, October 4, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/04/lone-wolf-white-terrorist-las-vegas

[36] Francie Diep, “A Look into the Evidence That ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorists are a Pack,” Pacific Standard, October 29, 2018, https://psmag.com/news/a-look-into-the-evidence-that-lone-wolf-terrorists-are-a-pack

[37] This anti-authoritarian sentiment is expressed in the February 2017 and March 2018 national Pewsurveys examined in this essay.

[38] Anti-authoritarian sentiment was a significant predictor of opinions of Trump at the .1 percent level for both the February 2017 and March 2018 Pew surveys. I did not include political party as a statistical control in my regression analysis because of the very strong correlation between party identification and feelings that Trump does not respect democratic institutions and traditions, which stood at .6 (or 60 percent) in 2017 and at .65 (or 65 percent) in 2018.

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Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era (Paperback, 2018), and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2016). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

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