The (Persisting) American Authoritarian Personality
Tracking political affinity, antipathy, and polarization to the post-Trump era
At a time, ‘American authoritarianism’ was considered an oxymoron; I argue that it has always been a national fairytale. Tracking increased ingroup-outgroup political affinity, antipathy, and affective polarization, this paper provides a scoping review of American authoritarianism since the late nineteenth century. I provide abbreviated cases analyses for the Reconstruction and Jim Crow authoritarian regimes, George Bush Jr.’s ‘War on Terror’, and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidency as authoritarianism personified. These cases underscore the growing propensity for authoritarianism in the post-Trump era. As a result, this research fills gaps in extant political and psychological scholarship, focusing on affinity, antipathy, and affective polarization in contemporary U.S. political culture. By using three elements of Adorno et al.’s (1950) nine-point scale to classify authoritarian personalities, this paper situates its analysis within Americans’ increasing submission to an acknowledged authority, aggression towards perceived outgroup members, and their belief in simple answers and polemics.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Kael Kropp
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