Your Definitive Guide to Authoritarian Sorting


In The Contract with Authoritarianism, Thomas Edsall helpfully summarizes half a dozen recent studies of political psychology. Interesting stuff. I won’t try to summarize the summary but will share a few highlights.

Authoritarians are Easily Identified

People who agreed that “our country is changing too fast, undermining traditional American values” mostly voted for Trump. People who agreed that “by accepting diverse cultures and lifestyles, our country is steadily improving” mostly voted for Hillary Clinton.

Detailed charts and graphs prove the point.

Another really good test, apparently, is asking what traits you would like to see in your offspring: independence versus respect, curiosity or good manners, self-reliance or obedience, being considerate or being well behaved.

Whole Lot O’ Authoritarian Sortin’ Goin’ On

The political sorting by personality types is increasing at a rapid pace. But I expect you knew that already.

Why So Much Authoritarian Sorting?

Edsall’s piece is short on explanations. One study refers to “three trends—polarization, media change, and the rise of what many people see as threats to the traditional social order.” But “polarization” is a name for the phenomenon, not an explanation. And “the rise of what many people see as threats” is also a poor explanation. Just this morning, Trump is trumping a threat of illegal border crossing, when illegal border crossing is at a decades-low point. He and his followers have freaked out over “American carnage” when crime is down. So why is there an increasing perception of threat when actual threats are down?

The answer must lie in the third named factor: “media change.” Obviously, the rise of social media is a big part of the picture. Another part is that the plutocrats have become really, really good at manipulating a highly gullible one quarter to one third of our population. In fact, the plutocrats have become so good at manipulating the manipulatible that they are by way of fouling their own nests.

Nothing exceeds like excess.