Since World War II, scholars of history, political science, and psychology, among other fields, have been interested in the question of what it is that makes people support demagogues whose leanings are dictatorial rather than democratic. From this research, the profile of the authoritarian personality has taken shape. Please be clear: contrary to what the term may sound like, it is not the dictators and demagogues they’re studying, but rather the people who support them.
Well, I don’t have to tell you whose campaign is showing the highest incidence of authoritarian personalities in its support base. And indeed, while psychologists regard Donald Trump as showing signs of narcissistic personality disorder, the big question is not why he’s doing what he’s doing, but rather, why so many people out there want this narcissist to be their president.
We will be talking about this in the coming semester, and students of my class in past semesters who still have access to this course site are very much invited to keep in touch with us.
Here’s a brand new article on Politico on the subject, written by a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst whose dissertation in progress is on this subject: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533.
And, here’s an academic journal article that reviews some of the scholarly literature while applying it to things that were going on back in 2011: authoritarian1.