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The rise of American authoritarianism

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posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:04 PM
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My original intent when I sat down more than an hour ago was to author a thread on the topic of the rise of authoritarianism in American politics but it had already grown so long before I'd finished the background portion that I realized it was simply too complex to tackle in a forum post or two — particularly after a couple of drinks, late on a Friday evening.

So I've opted for the lazy route. I've tucked away that unfinished first draft for another thread and instead, I'm linking a very comprehensive and informative article that was shared with me earlier this afternoon by another ATS member. It's not the first of it's kind this election cycle but I think it does an excellent job of connecting the dots.

It's also a fairly long article and it's impossible to even outline the gist of the thing without filling up more than a couple posts but here are a few excerpts that I hope will interest many of you enough to read the article and become seriously interested in discussing the topic.

Vox - The rise of American authoritarianism

As it turns out, MacWilliams wasn't the only one to have this realization. Miles away, in an office at Vanderbilt University, a professor named Marc Hetherington was having his own aha moment. He realized that he and a fellow political scientist, the University of North Carolina's Jonathan Weiler, had essentially predicted Trump's rise back in 2009, when they discovered something that would turn out to be far more significant than they then realized.

That year, Hetherington and Weiler published a book about the effects of authoritarianism on American politics. Through a series of experiments and careful data analysis, they had come to a surprising conclusion: Much of the polarization dividing American politics was fueled not just by gerrymandering or money in politics or the other oft-cited variables, but by an unnoticed but surprisingly large electoral group — authoritarians.

Their book concluded that the GOP, by positioning itself as the party of traditional values and law and order, had unknowingly attracted what would turn out to be a vast and previously bipartisan population of Americans with authoritarian tendencies.

What we found is a phenomenon that explains, with remarkable clarity, the rise of Donald Trump — but that is also much larger than him, shedding new light on some of the biggest political stories of the past decade. Trump, it turns out, is just the symptom. The rise of American authoritarianism is transforming the Republican Party and the dynamics of national politics, with profound consequences likely to extend well beyond this election.

The literature on authoritarianism suggests this is not just simple Islamophobia, but rather reflects a broader phenomenon wherein authoritarians feel threatened by people they identify as "outsiders" and by the possibility of changes to the status quo makeup of their communities. This would help explain why authoritarians seem so prone to reject not just one specific kind of outsider or social change, such as Muslims or same-sex couples or Hispanic migrants, but rather to reject all of them. What these seemingly disparate groups have in common is the perceived threat they pose to the status quo order, which authoritarians experience as a threat to themselves.


Authoritarianism isn't an ideology, it's not exclusive to any particular political movement or party. In fact, it seems that a fair number of longtime conservatives are concerned with the abrupt shift in the direction of the GOP of which Trump is both a symptom and now, a driving force.

I come from a conservative family. My parents were supporters of Reagan and of Bush who believed in the ideals of limited government, responsible fiscal policy, lowering taxes, protecting gun ownership, etc. Most importantly, they were always (and my dad still is) concerned with protecting the rights of the individual from the oppressive restraint of government.

Growing up, I'd hear countless statements beginning with "it's not the government's place" or "it's not the government's business."

I'm well versed in conventional conservative positions. This thing that has infected the conservative movement in our country is something completely alien to me.

Faced with a man who is promising authoritarianism and a growing movement of authoritarians who are cheering him on because he tells them he will take away their f'ing fear (when did repeatedly referring to how afraid conservatives are become a thing to say to conservatives?) and the rights of others, I would gladly welcome back the old GOP and that's a statement that I never thought I'd ever say.

One last thing. Here are a few lines from Donald Trump's speech today after receiving the NRA's endorsement that I typed from the live broadcast. The appeal to authoritarianism is shockingly overt:


I just wanna say that I've been watching what's going on and I've been looking at airplanes getting blown up in the air and lots of bad things happening. It's just not the same and we're going to bring it back and we're going to bring it back to a real place where we don't have to be so frightened, where we don't have to be so afraid and you know what's happening in the schoolsand you know what's happening everywhere. We're going to bring it back and you folks are going to be so happy and you're going to be so proud of your country again. Just remember.


So anyway, give that article a read and let's have a discussion.
edit on 2016-5-20 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)



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posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:19 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian

Authoritarianism isn't an ideology, it's not exclusive to any particular political movement or party.

You acknowledge this, yet the only example you provide is a Trump hit piece.

Would you be willing to discuss instances of creeping authoritarianism on the "other side" of the spectrum?



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:26 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Go Trump! The rise of authoritarianism in America is based more on Leftist groups which support groups of people of very small count, yet outmatch the majority in power.


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posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:27 PM
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Barry Sotero, AKA "Barack Obama" is the MOST extreme authoritarian President that this country has EVER had. He has far outdone FDR in respect to social engineering... which is saying something. I would not be at all surprised if he suspends the next election, and declares martial law.

He has us on the brink of WWIII, but, he won a Nobel Peace Prize...



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:28 PM
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Barry Sotero, AKA "Barack Obama" is the MOST extreme authoritarian President that this country has EVER had. He has far outdone FDR in respect to social engineering... which is saying something. I would not be at all surprised if he suspends the next election, and declares martial law.

He has us on the brink of WWIII, but, he won a Nobel Peace Prize...


This is a double post... don't care. It needs repeating.

When Chinese and Russian forces start invading the West Coast... you know who to blame. The Russians want Alaska back, and the Chinese have stated their desire to invade the West Coast... why not? CA,WA,and OR have very restrictive gun laws. A soft spot, if you will.

This country has avoided invasion for two centuries for ONE reason... private gun ownership.

Admiral Yamamato was quoted as saying that an invasion of the U.S. was impractical because "we had a gun behind every blade of grass". More or less... I can't remember the exact quote...

My home state of Idaho... if invaders cross ID state lines, I GUARANTEE their will be thousands of Idahoans more than willing to fight.
edit on 20-5-2016 by madmac5150 because: My cat made me

edit on 20-5-2016 by madmac5150 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:43 PM
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a reply to: NthOther

There's definitely elements of authoritarianism among the Democrats. Most notably is the obsession with gun control but as a progressive liberal, I am also quite concerned with the attitudes of some college kids who are ostensibly "liberal" but are anything but with their demands for "safe spaces" and crying over their "fear" from the words "Trump 2016" spray painted (or wasn't it SIMPLY CHALKED FFS?) on a set of steps and a some curbing.

For the same reasons I am compelled to stand up for something like the right to free speech for people I passionately disagree with, I also feel that authoritarianism is something that we must denounce not only among those we oppose but also among those from our own "sides."

Authoritarianism isn't a new threat. It reared it's ugly head straight away with the Alien & Sedition Acts. Most recently, I think the closest we came to going down a path to something truly frightening was the second Red Scare.

That said, I decided to narrow the focus to what I believe is the most immediate and serious threat and that's what I was looking to discuss in this thread. I do find it interesting that you characterized the article I linked as a "hit piece." Are you implying that it's inaccurate/invalid/irrelevant?



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:45 PM
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I don't feel it is a rise of authoritarianism, but citizens are tired of the government using the porous border as a way to get elected and then do nothing. My recollection of republican candidates, anyways. Illegal immigration has been a problem for decades.

The tides are turning in Europe now, as well. Austria will have a leader that is not a Socialist for the first time since 1945. The far right will take over.

The authoritarians are the globalist and their borderless world experiment. I saw where John Kerry said last week that we are living in a borderless world. That is insane!

It's very easy for politicians and famous stars, like Angelina Jolie, to openly talk about opening borders and then retreat into their well secured compounds. The common citizens are the ones forced to deal with erosion of what once was. Did they ask for that?

Trump is saying nothing new. The only difference now is that a majority of people are tired of the experiment and see someone that will finally do the legal thing and stop the madness.

Was it authoritarianism when Bill Clinton called out illegal immigration a problem back in the 90s? Was it authoritarianism when Obama and Hillary voted for the border fence act, HR 6160, I believe it was?

Nothing new here. People just want the old problem to finally be fixed.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:47 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

There is one sole reason why the Authoritarians haven't taken over here, in this country.

The 2nd Amendment.


+2 more 
posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:47 PM
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a reply to: Tiamat384


Go Trump! The rise of authoritarianism in America is based more on Leftist groups which support groups of people of very small count, yet outmatch the majority in power.


Do you not see what you're saying?

Why do you feel that it's the majority against the minority? What is it exactly that you are so opposed to other than "groups of people of very small count" who aren't being forced to conform to what the will of what you assume to be the majority?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say you didn't read the article or have any real interest in even considering the possibility that you may in fact be a person who has embraced authoritarianism?


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posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:49 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

Give an example, not a nod to a birther conspiracy theory. Better yet, discuss how Trump isn't an authoritarian if that's how you feel instead of trying to change the topic.

He will not suspend the next election. He will not declare martial law.

...and you will not coming back to this thread or posting in another to acknowledge that you were completely wrong.

But hey, if you want to bet, I will in fact take you up on your wager and with your permission, I will hold you to task when you're wrong.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:53 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Well I'd say you are wrong on most of your assumptions. And to say I embrace it. Come back when you arent drunk.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:53 PM
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a reply to: theantediluvian

Is it not true that your pro-NWO tendances are under the spotlight now Trump has promised to reverse all of Obama's authortarian dictates...from Pope Francis...the embodiment of Roman empire vestiges?



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:55 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150




This country has avoided invasion for two centuries for ONE reason... private gun ownership.


Ya it totally isn't our ocean barriers that are guarded by one the biggest navy in the world...
Russia and China would have to come over from the Pacific, not exactly a hop skip and a jump to get over.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 10:58 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian

That said, I decided to narrow the focus to what I believe is the most immediate and serious threat and that's what I was looking to discuss in this thread. I do find it interesting that you characterized the article I linked as a "hit piece." Are you implying that it's inaccurate/invalid/irrelevant?

Only in it's exclusion of high-profile examples of authoritarianism coming from the "left". Because it focuses almost exclusively on Trump, and ignores just about everything else that's currently relevant, it's not really a general discussion of "authoritarianism in America" as the title would imply.

It's one-sided propaganda intended to associate authoritarianism with Trump and his supporters.

I'm not saying it's inaccurate to do so, I'm just saying that the "piece" has an obvious agenda.

ETA: And I think (and we may actually be in agreement on this) we do ourselves a great disservice when we fail to acknowledge that the vise is being squeezed from both sides.
edit on 5/20/16 by NthOther because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:04 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian
a reply to: madmac5150

Give an example, not a nod to a birther conspiracy theory. Better yet, discuss how Trump isn't an authoritarian if that's how you feel instead of trying to change the topic.

He will not suspend the next election. He will not declare martial law.

...and you will not coming back to this thread or posting in another to acknowledge that you were completely wrong.

But hey, if you want to bet, I will in fact take you up on your wager and with your permission, I will hold you to task when you're wrong.


For the record sir, I don't take a sucker's money.

If you think, for a moment, that Barry Sotero aka. "Barack Obama" has your best interest in mind... you are mistaken. Barack Obama is a sociopath...

Do the research.

He has us on the very F#####G brink of WWIII because of his foreign policy.

Yet, idiots cast their ballots for him because CNN said so...



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:07 PM
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originally posted by: Sremmos80
a reply to: madmac5150




This country has avoided invasion for two centuries for ONE reason... private gun ownership.


Ya it totally isn't our ocean barriers that are guarded by one the biggest navy in the world...
Russia and China would have to come over from the Pacific, not exactly a hop skip and a jump to get over.


That would normally be a good argument, but Obama has decimated our military. Planes don't fly without fuel and spare parts. The Army is at pre-WWII levels. The U.S. Navy has half their fleet in dry dock... no money.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:11 PM
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a reply to: gator2001

In the mid-80's, didn't Reagan grant amnesty to 3+ million illegal immigrants? Wasn't Bush 43 a big supporter of the immigration reform that included a path to citizenship?

When was it exactly that illegal immigrants became such an overwhelming source of fear?

Nobody is saying that immigration and border security aren't important but when did illegal immigration become the most significant concern to so many people and why?

What about the fact that we've transitioned now from an era of deindustrialization to post-industrialization and we have absolutely no real idea what the hell the majority of blue collar workers are going to do to even have a shot of staying in the middle class in the face of diminishing need for human labor?

Isn't that perhaps the biggest problem we actually face?

Are you familiar with John Tanton? Do you realize that many of the biggest sources of anti-immigration everything (and not just illegal) is a network of interconnected organizations that were in fact founded and funded by John Tanton (FAIR, NumbersUSA, CIS and many others) who as it turns out, is actually a eugenicist?

Every time that Trump speaks about immigration, he brings up "poor dear Kate" as though he knew the girl. More to the point, he does it to keep reinforcing the idea that all American women are at some dire risk of being shot dead by an illegal immigrant because it happened to her.

Again, that's not to say that there aren't illegal immigrants participating in crimes but the actual risk faced by the average American relative to the all the other risks isn't disproportionately far far lower than it's being made out to be.

Finally, are you completely unaware of the authoritarian dream that you are being sold? Where does Congress fit into Trump's promise? The President of the United States doesn't have the authority to do almost anything that Trump keeps saying he will do.

He is literally promising that he will be an authoritarian strongman who will somehow (details never seem to matter), if elected, exceed the powers of his office. Maybe he won't. That's the sad thing. The best scenario of a Trump President is that he's lying to all his supporters. The worst case scenario is that he is honestly trying to wield the sort of a power that only a dictator or a king would ever possess.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:18 PM
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originally posted by: theantediluvian
Better yet, discuss how Trump isn't an authoritarian if that's how you feel instead of trying to change the topic.


That is a great approach. Logical, Reasonable and exactly on point. However I still doubt that is what anyone will actually do.

Your topic is completely valid all on it's own and worthy of discussion. But the opposing argument won't be refuting your information like you suggest. It won't be to show how Trump isn't what you suggest. Instead it will be countless attacks at you and people trying to redirect this toward someone or some group other than Trump. Even though that isn't the topic at hand that is the common tactic.

Now, that doesn't mean that there isn't a valid reason to bring up this same type of information directed somewhere else. There most certainly is of course. But that isn't the topic at hand here. But that will be the tactic used to try and get attention away from where you've put it.

But good luck with it all the same.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:20 PM
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originally posted by: Sremmos80
a reply to: madmac5150




This country has avoided invasion for two centuries for ONE reason... private gun ownership.


Ya it totally isn't our ocean barriers that are guarded by one the biggest navy in the world...
Russia and China would have to come over from the Pacific, not exactly a hop skip and a jump to get over.


I am not a layman... I am a 21 year USAF MSgt (ret). I actually KNOW what is going on. Obama has run out every senior military leader (Officer and SNCO), because he fears that they may not fire on American citizens. I saw several amazing military leaders... Colonels, Chiefs, etc. run out of service because of their conservative ideals, and the absurd notion that our Constitution needs to be upheld.



posted on May, 20 2016 @ 11:21 PM
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a reply to: NthOther




Would you be willing to discuss instances of creeping authoritarianism on the "other side" of the spectrum?


Oh I am willing.

We can start with banking,gun control,climate change, and telling people which bathrooms they get to use.

I love that HIT PIECE trying to pass the 'right' off as authoritarian, but IGNORE the opposite side of the aisle.

Anyone else notice the size and power of the state hasn't shrank one damn bit over the last eight years ?
edit on 20-5-2016 by neo96 because: (no reason given)




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