The people who support Donald Trump are surprisingly diverse, ranging from white politicians and black actors to a Serbian war criminal and his supporters. With a group of endorsers who are all so different, many people have wondered what the commonality could possibly be that links them all to Trump.
According to a recent poll performed by Matthew MacWilliams through the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, reports Raw Story, the most significant characteristic that Trump supporters share is authoritarianism.
What exactly is authoritarianism? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of authoritarian is, “of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority.”
Why is authoritarianism a frightening trait? The key part of that definition that makes a tendency towards authoritarianism a cause for concern is the phrase, “blind submission to authority.” Clearly that submission is what Donald Trump is after, made evident in the way he responds to difficult questions, challenging them with aggression and defensiveness. Someone who expects blind submission and obedience and discourages critical thinking will not make a good leader.
Trump’s authoritarian leanings are visible in nearly all his actions and promises, big and small, from his Twitter tantrums over a debate moderator to his desire to deport 11 million people and build a wall around the United States.
Many people have said that they admire Trump’s honesty, his boldness. Understanding that these supporters are likely authoritarians themselves, it makes sense that they would respect his initiative, the fact that he refuses to back down, because they probably refuse to back down from things as well.
As an authoritarian extraordinaire himself, it is easy to see why Trump admires other authoritarians, like Putin. He seems to value the same things in Putin that his supporters value in him.
It is important to note that not all authoritarians are automatically Republicans, although there are certainly more of them in that particular party, according to MacWilliams. In fact, many of Trump’s supporters are actually self-determined Republicans who are officially registered as Democrats or Independents.
The appeal of authoritarianism is apparently so strong that it can overpower differences in political party, along with differences in race, gender, education, and income level, as none of these are as consistent among Trump’s supporters.
Another common characteristic — although not as common as authoritarianism — that MacWilliams found among Donald Trump supporters was a fear of terrorism. It makes sense that those who strongly fear terrorism might align themselves with Trump because they see in some of his extreme positions a chance at protection.
Traits like the extreme xenophobia that leads to him want to ban an entire group of people because of their religious beliefs might make sense to people who are extremely afraid of terrorism and equate terrorists with foreigners.
To his followers, Trump seems to give off a strong, father-figure vibe, lulling those who follow him into a sense of safety and causing them to believe that he has their best interests as Americans at heart. And if they are white, male, and Christian, he probably does.
Of course, not all authoritarians are automatically destined to be dangerous dictators. However, with growing support for Donald Trump, voters should be concerned about what it is that is making him so appealing. An authoritarian president, one who cannot handle being challenged, one who acts rashly and according to only his own desires, will certainly not make America great again.