What They Really Mean When Saying, “We Want Our Country Back!!”

What They Really Mean When Saying, "We Want Our Country Back!!"

"Take Our Country Back"... "Make America Great Again"... Hmmm?The Game The Republican Party Has Been Playing Is Not About Facts Or TruthIt Is About Using Hate To Manipulate When signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 President Johnson turned to Sargent Shriver, who was sitting next to him and said "We just lost the South." That was the moment when the mass exodus of the last remaining Dixie Democrats happened. They leapt in the arms of the Republican Party and the transformation of the two parties occurred. Republicans were overtaken by the "conservatives" (code name for selfish, backwards bigots) and the Democrats became the new liberals, the stand for civil rights and progressive Government. In 2000 Right-wing judges overruled the voters and placed one of their puppets & his handler (Bush/Cheney) in the White House. What happened next was 8 years of unrestrained corruption, incompetence & greed that nearly destroyed this nation. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/17/1209848/-List-of-Bush-Admin-scandalsNo amount of spin could erase the horror of the Bush/Cheney regime. Thus before President Obama was sworn in they launched a nonstop, no holds barred smear campaign. Designed to dehumanize, demonize & tear him down on every level.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/robert-draper-anti-obama-campaign_n_1452899.html#GOP #TeaParty #FoxNews #DonaldTrump

Posted by Forward on Thursday, April 7, 2016

VIA Forward

“Take Our Country Back”… “Make America Great Again”… Hmmm?

The Game The Republican Party Has Been Playing Is Not About Facts Or Truth
It Is About Using Hate To Manipulate

When signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 President Johnson turned to Sargent Shriver, who was sitting next to him and said “We just lost the South.” That was the moment when the mass exodus of the last remaining Dixie Democrats happened. They leapt in the arms of the Republican Party and the transformation of the two parties occurred. Republicans were overtaken by the “conservatives” (code name for selfish, backwards bigots) and the Democrats became the new liberals, the stand for civil rights and progressive Government.

In 2000 Right-wing judges overruled the voters and placed one of their puppets & his handler (Bush/Cheney) in the White House. What happened next was 8 years of unrestrained corruption, incompetence & greed that nearly destroyed this nation.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/17/1209848/-List-of-Bush-Admin-scandals

No amount of spin could erase the horror of the Bush/Cheney regime. Thus before President Obama was sworn in they launched a nonstop, no holds barred smear campaign. Designed to dehumanize, demonize & tear him down on every level.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/robert-draper-anti-obama-campaign_n_1452899.html

A white lady goes off on a white man about White privilege.

Lady goes off on White man about Privilege

A white lady goes off on a white man about White privilege.

Posted by Beyond The Industry on Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism

trumpBy Chris Hedges via www.truthdig.com

College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.

There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.

These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate. They want the freedom to use words like “nigger,” “kike,” “spic,” “chink,” “raghead” and “fag.” They want the freedom to idealize violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism. They want the freedom to celebrate historical movements and figures that the college-educated elites condemn, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederacy. They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave. And they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.

The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.

The Republicans, energized by America’s reality-star version of Il Duce, Donald Trump, have been pulling in voters, especially new voters, while the Democrats are well below the voter turnouts for 2008. In the voting Tuesday, 5.6 million votes were cast for the Democrats while 8.3 million went to the Republicans. Those numbers were virtually reversed in 2008—8.2 million for the Democrats and about 5 million for the Republicans.

Richard Rorty in his last book, “Achieving Our Country,” written in 1998, presciently saw where our postindustrial nation was headed.

Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.

Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. The sociologist Émile Durkheim warned that the disenfranchisement of a class of people from the structures of society produced a state of “anomie”—a “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.” Those trapped in this “anomie,” he wrote, are easy prey to propaganda and emotionally driven mass movements. Hannah Arendt, echoing Durkheim, noted that “the chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”

In fascism the politically disempowered and disengaged, ignored and reviled by the establishment, discover a voice and a sense of empowerment.

As Arendt noted, the fascist and communist movements in Europe in the 1930s “… recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been ‘spoiled’ by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the control of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with either parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

Fascism is aided and advanced by the apathy of those who are tired of being conned and lied to by a bankrupt liberal establishment, whose only reason to vote for a politician or support a political party is to elect the least worst. This, for many voters, is the best Clinton can offer.

Fascism expresses itself in familiar and comforting national and religious symbols, which is why it comes in various varieties and forms. Italian fascism, which looked back to the glory of the Roman Empire, for example, never shared the Nazis’ love of Teutonic and Nordic myths. American fascism too will reach back to traditional patriotic symbols, narratives and beliefs.

Robert Paxton wrote in “The Anatomy of Fascism”:

The language and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models. They would have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as [George] Orwell suggested. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.

Fascism is about an inspired and seemingly strong leader who promises moral renewal, new glory and revenge. It is about the replacement of rational debate with sensual experience. This is why the lies, half-truths and fabrications by Trump have no impact on his followers. Fascists transform politics, as philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin pointed out, into aesthetics. And the ultimate aesthetic for the fascist, Benjamin said, is war.

Paxton singles out the amorphous ideology characteristic of all fascist movements.

Fascism rested not upon the truth of its doctrine but upon the leader’s mystical union with the historic destiny of his people, a notion related to romanticist ideas of national historic flowering and of individual artistic or spiritual genius, though fascism otherwise denied romanticism’s exaltation of unfettered personal creativity. The fascist leader wanted to bring his people into a higher realm of politics that they would experience sensually: the warmth of belonging to a race now fully aware of its identity, historic destiny, and power; the excitement of participating in a wave of shared feelings, and of sacrificing one’s petty concerns for the group’s good; and the thrill of domination.

There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy and political life of the country. This movement will never come out of the Democratic Party. If Clinton prevails in the general election Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. Another Trump, perhaps more vile, will be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the college-educated elites to our capitalist democracy. The longer the elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it is going to get.

The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter

trumpThe One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter

And it’s not gender, age, income, race or religion.

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

Story Continued Below

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Based on these questions, Trump was the only candidate—Republican or Democrat—whose support among authoritarians was statistically significant.

So what does this mean for the election? It doesn’t just help us understand what motivates Trump’s backers—it suggests that his support isn’t capped. In a statistical analysis of the polling results, I found that Trump has already captured 43 percent of Republican primary voters who are strong authoritarians, and 37 percent of Republican authoritarians overall. A majority of Republican authoritarians in my poll also strongly supported Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, shutter mosques and establish a nationwide database that track Muslims.

And in a general election, Trump’s strongman rhetoric will surely appeal to some of the 39 percent of independents in my poll who identify as authoritarians and the 17 percent of self-identified Democrats who are strong authoritarians.

What’s more, the number of Americans worried about the threat of terrorism is growing. In 2011, Hetherington published research finding that non-authoritarians respond to the perception of threat by behaving more like authoritarians. More fear and more threats—of the kind we’ve seen recently in the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks—mean more voters are susceptible to Trump’s message about protecting Americans. In my survey, 52 percent of those voters expressing the most fear that another terrorist attack will occur in the United States in the next 12 months were non-authoritarians—ripe targets for Trump’s message.

Take activated authoritarians from across the partisan spectrum and the growing cadre of threatened non-authoritarians, then add them to the base of Republican general election voters, and the potential electoral path to a Trump presidency becomes clearer.

So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.

It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with. That means it’s also time for political pollsters to take authoritarianism seriously and begin measuring it in their polls.

The rise of American authoritarianism

trumpA niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what’s driving Donald Trump’s ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016.

The American media, over the past year, has been trying to work out something of a mystery: Why is the Republican electorate supporting a far-right, orange-toned populist with no real political experience, who espouses extreme and often bizarre views? How has Donald Trump, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly become so popular?

What’s made Trump’s rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidates. And whereas most Republican candidates might draw strong support from just one segment of the party base, such as Southern evangelicals or coastal moderates, Trump currently does surprisingly well from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the towns of upstate New York, and he won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses.

Perhaps strangest of all, it wasn’t just Trump but his supporters who seemed to have come out of nowhere, suddenly expressing, in large numbers, ideas far more extreme than anything that has risen to such popularity in recent memory. In South Carolina, a CBS News exit poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters supported banning Muslims from the United States. A PPP poll found that a third of Trump voters support banning gays and lesbians from the country. Twenty percent said Lincoln shouldn’t have freed the slaves.

Last September, a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Matthew MacWilliams realized that his dissertation research might hold the answer to not just one but all three of these mysteries.

MacWilliams studies authoritarianism — not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.

So MacWilliams naturally wondered if authoritarianism might correlate with support for Trump.

He polled a large sample of likely voters, looking for correlations between support for Trump and views that align with authoritarianism. What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator. He later repeated the same poll in South Carolina, shortly before the primary there, and found the same results, which he published in Vox:

Trump_poll2.0.0

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.

This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which “activated” authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.

These Americans with authoritarian views, they found, were sorting into the GOP, driving polarization. But they were also creating a divide within the party, at first latent, between traditional Republican voters and this group whose views were simultaneously less orthodox and, often, more extreme.

Over time, Hetherington and Weiler had predicted, that sorting would become more and more pronounced. And so it was all but inevitable that, eventually, authoritarians would gain enough power within the GOP to make themselves heard.

At the time, even Hetherington and Weiler did not realize the explosive implications: that their theory, when followed to its natural conclusion, predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics. But looking back now, the ramifications of their research seem disturbingly clear.

Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.

A candidate like Donald Trump.

Even Hetherington was shocked to discover quite how right their theory had been. In the early fall of 2015, as Trump’s rise baffled most American journalists and political scientists, he called Weiler. He asked, over and over, “Can you believe this? Can you believe this?”

This winter, I got in touch with Hetherington, MacWilliams, and several other political scientists who study authoritarianism. I wanted to better understand the theory that seemed to have predicted, with such eerie accuracy, Trump’s rise. And, like them, I wanted to find out what the rise of authoritarian politics meant for American politics. Was Trump just the start of something bigger?

These political scientists were, at that moment, beginning to grapple with the same question. We agreed there was something important happening here — that was just beginning to be understood.

Shortly after the Iowa Republican caucus, in which Trump came in a close second, Vox partnered with the Washington-based media and polling company Morning Consultto test American authoritarians along a range of political and social views — and to test some hypotheses we had developed after speaking with the leading political scientists of the field.

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.

I. What is American authoritarianism?

A Trump supporter carries a sign saying Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

For years now, before anyone thought a person like Donald Trump could possibly lead a presidential primary, a small but respected niche of academic research has been laboring over a question, part political science and part psychology, that had captivated political scientists since the rise of the Nazis.

How do people come to adopt, in such large numbers and so rapidly, extreme political views that seem to coincide with fear of minorities and with the desire for a strongman leader?

To answer that question, these theorists study what they call authoritarianism: not the dictators themselves, but rather the psychological profile of people who, under the right conditions, will desire certain kinds of extreme policies and will seek strongman leaders to implement them.

After an early period of junk science in the mid-20th century, a more serious group of scholars has addressed this question, specifically studying how it plays out in American politics: researchers like Hetherington and Weiler, Stanley Feldman, Karen Stenner, and Elizabeth Suhay, to name just a few.

The field, after a breakthrough in the early 1990s, has come to develop the contours of a grand theory of authoritarianism, culminating quite recently, in 2005, with Stenner’s seminal The Authoritarian Dynamic — just in time for that theory to seemingly come true, more rapidly and in greater force than any of them had imagined, in the personage of one Donald Trump and his norm-shattering rise.

According to Stenner’s theory, there is a certain subset of people who hold latent authoritarian tendencies. These tendencies can be triggered or “activated” by the perception of physical threats or by destabilizing social change, leading those individuals to desire policies and leaders that we might more colloquially call authoritarian.

It is as if, the NYU professor Jonathan Haidt has written, a button is pushed that says, “In case of moral threat, lock down the borders, kick out those who are different, and punish those who are morally deviant.”

Authoritarians prioritize social order and hierarchies, which bring a sense of control to a chaotic world. Challenges to that order — diversity, influx of outsiders, breakdown of the old order — are experienced as personally threatening because they risk upending the status quo order they equate with basic security.

This is, after all, a time of social change in America. The country is becoming more diverse, which means that many white Americans are confronting race in a way they have never had to before. Those changes have been happening for a long time, but in recent years they have become more visible and harder to ignore. And they are coinciding with economic trends that have squeezed working-class white people.

When they face physical threats or threats to the status quo, authoritarians support policies that seem to offer protection against those fears. They favor forceful, decisive action against things they perceive as threats. And they flock to political leaders who they believe will bring this action.

If you were to read every word these theorists ever wrote on authoritarians, and then try to design a hypothetical candidate to match their predictions of what would appeal to authoritarian voters, the result would look a lot like Donald Trump.

But political scientists say this theory explains much more than just Donald Trump, placing him within larger trends in American politics: polarization, the rightward shift of the Republican Party, and the rise within that party of a dissident faction challenging GOP orthodoxies and upending American politics.

More than that, authoritarianism reveals the connections between several seemingly disparate stories about American politics. And it suggest that a combination of demographic, economic, and political forces, by awakening this authoritarian class of voters that has coalesced around Trump, have created what is essentially a new political party within the GOP — a phenomenon that broke into public view with the 2016 election but will persist long after it has ended.

II. The discovery: how a niche subfield of political science suddenly became some of the most relevant research in American politics

Buttons for sale on the day of the 2016 Iowa caucusesBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Buttons for sale on the day of the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

This study of authoritarianism began shortly after World War II, as political scientists and psychologists in the US and Europe tried to figure out how the Nazis had managed to win such wide public support for such an extreme and hateful ideology.

That was a worthy field of study, but the early work wasn’t particularly rigorous by today’s standards. The critical theorist Theodor Adorno, for instance, developed what he called the “F-scale,” which sought to measure “fascist” tendencies. The test wasn’t accurate. Sophisticated respondents would quickly discover what the “right” answers were and game the test. And there was no proof that the personality type it purportedly measured actually supported fascism.

More than that, this early research seemed to assume that a certain subset of people were inherently evil or dangerous — an idea that Hetherington and Weiler say is simplistic and wrong, and that they resist in their work. (They acknowledge the label “authoritarians” doesn’t do much to dispel this, but their efforts to replace it with a less pejorative-sounding term were unsuccessful.)

But the real problem for researchers was that even if there really were such a thing as an authoritarian psychological profile, how do you measure it? How do you interrogate authoritarian tendencies, which can sometimes be latent? How do you get honest answers on questions that can be sensitive and highly politicized?

As Hetherington explained to me, “There are certain things that you just can’t ask people directly. You can’t ask people, ‘Do you not like black people?’ You can’t ask people if they’re bigots.”

For a long time, no one had a solution for this, and the field of study languished.

Then in the early 1990s, a political scientist named Stanley Feldman changed everything. Feldman, a professor at SUNY Stonybrook, believed authoritarianism could be an important factor in American politics in ways that had nothing to do with fascism, but that it could only reliably be measured by unlinking it from specific political preferences.

He realized that if authoritarianism were a personality profile rather than just a political preference, he could get respondents to reveal these tendencies by asking questions about a topic that seemed much less controversial. He settled on something so banal it seems almost laughable: parenting goals.

Feldman developed what has since become widely accepted as the definitive measurement of authoritarianism: four simple questions that appear to ask about parenting but are in fact designed to reveal how highly the respondent values hierarchy, order, and conformity over other values.

  1. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders?
  2. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: obedience or self-reliance?
  3. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?
  4. Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: curiosity or good manners?

Feldman’s test proved to be very reliable. There was now a way to identify people who fit the authoritarian profile, by prizing order and conformity, for example, and desiring the imposition of those values.

In 1992, Feldman convinced the National Election Study, a large survey of American voters conducted in each national election year, to include his four authoritarianism questions. Ever since, political scientists who study authoritarianism have accumulated a wealth of data on who exhibits those tendencies and on how they align with everything from demographic profiles to policy preferences.

What they found was impossible to ignore — and is only just beginning to reshape our understanding of the American electorate.

III. How authoritarianism works

A Tea Party supporter holds a sign asking Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A 2010 protest against President Obama.

In the early 2000s, as researchers began to make use of the NES data to understand how authoritarianism affected US politics, their work revealed three insights that help explain not just the rise of Trump, but seemingly a half-century of American political dynamics.

The first was Hetherington and Weiler’s insight into partisan polarization. In the 1960s, the Republican Party had reinvented itself as the party of law, order, and traditional values — a position that naturally appealed to order- and tradition-focused authoritarians. Over the decades that followed, authoritarians increasingly gravitated toward the GOP, where their concentration gave them more and more influence over time.

The second was Stenner’s theory of “activation.” In an influential 2005 book called The Authoritarian Dynamic, Stenner argued that many authoritarians might be latent — that they might not necessarily support authoritarian leaders or policies until their authoritarianism had been “activated.”

This activation could come from feeling threatened by social changes such as evolving social norms or increasing diversity, or any other change that they believe will profoundly alter the social order they want to protect. In response, previously more moderate individuals would come to support leaders and policies we might now call Trump-esque.

Other researchers, like Hetherington, take a slightly different view. They believe that authoritarians aren’t “activated” — they’ve always held their authoritarian preferences — but that they only come to express those preferences once they feel threatened by social change or some kind of threat from outsiders.

But both schools of thought agree on the basic causality of authoritarianism. People do not support extreme policies and strongman leaders just out of an affirmative desire for authoritarianism, but rather as a response to experiencing certain kinds of threats.

The third insight came from Hetherington and American University professor Elizabeth Suhay, who found that when non-authoritarians feel sufficiently scared, they also start to behave, politically, like authoritarians.

But Hetherington and Suhay found a distinction between physical threats such as terrorism, which could lead non-authoritarians to behave like authoritarians, and more abstract social threats, such as eroding social norms or demographic changes, which do not have that effect. That distinction would turn out to be important, but it also meant that in times when many Americans perceived imminent physical threats, the population of authoritarians could seem to swell rapidly.

Together, those three insights added up to one terrifying theory: that if social change and physical threats coincided at the same time, it could awaken a potentially enormous population of American authoritarians, who would demand a strongman leader and the extreme policies necessary, in their view, to meet the rising threats.

This theory would seem to predict the rise of an American political constituency that looks an awful lot like the support base that has emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, to propel Donald Trump from sideshow loser of the 2012 GOP primary to runaway frontrunner in 2016.

Beyond being almost alarmingly prescient, this theory speaks to an oft-stated concern about Trump: that what’s scariest is not the candidate, but rather the extent and fervor of his support.

And it raises a question: If this rise in American authoritarianism is so powerful as to drive Trump’s ascent, then how else might it be shaping American politics? And what effect could it have even after the 2016 race has ended?

IV. What can authoritarianism explain?

Trump greets supporters in AlabamaMark Wallheiser/Getty Images

In early February, shortly after Trump finished second in the Iowa caucus and ended any doubts about his support, I began talking to Feldman, Hetherington, and MacWilliams to try to answer these questions.

MacWilliams had already demonstrated a link between authoritarianism and support for Trump. But we wanted to know how else authoritarianism was playing out in American life, from policy positions to party politics to social issues, and what it might mean for America’s future.

It was time to call Kyle Dropp. Dropp is a political scientist and pollster whom one of my colleagues described as “the Doogie Howser of polling.” He does indeed appear jarringly young for a Dartmouth professor. But he is also the co-founder of a media and polling company, Morning Consult, that had worked with Vox on several other projects.

When we approached Morning Consult, Dropp and his colleagues were excited. Dropp was familiar with Hetherington’s work and the authoritarianism measure, he said, and was instantly intrigued by how we could test its relevance to the election. Hetherington and the other political scientists were, in turn, eager to more fully explore the theories that had suddenly become much more relevant.

We put together five sets of questions. The first set, of course, was the test for authoritarianism that Feldman had developed. This would allow us to measure how authoritarianism coincided or didn’t with our other sets of questions.

The second set asked standard election-season questions on preferred candidates and party affiliation.

The third set tested voters’ fears of a series of physical threats, ranging from ISIS and Russia to viruses and car accidents.

The fourth set tested policy preferences, in an attempt to see how authoritarianism might lead voters to support particular policies.

If the research were right, then we’d expect people who scored highly on authoritarianism to express outsize fear of “outsider” threats such as ISIS or foreign governments versus other threats. We also expected that non-authoritarians who expressed high levels of fear would be more likely to support Trump. This would speak to physical fears as triggering a kind of authoritarian upsurge, which would in turn lead to Trump support.

The final set of questions was intended to test fear of social change. We asked people to rate a series of social changes — both actual and hypothetical — on a scale of “very good” to “very bad” for the country. These included same-sex marriage, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States, and American Muslims building more mosques in US cities.

If the theory about social change provoking stress amongst authoritarians turned out to be correct, then authoritarians would be more likely to rate the changes as bad for the country.

In the aggregate, we were hoping to do a few things. We wanted to understand who these people are, in simple demographic terms, and to test the basic hypotheses about how authoritarianism, in theory, is supposed to work. We wanted to look at the role authoritarians are playing in the election: Were they driving certain policy positions, for example?

We wanted to better understand the larger forces that had suddenly made authoritarians so numerous and so extreme — was it migration, terrorism, perhaps the decline of working-class whites? And maybe most of all, we wanted to develop some theories about what the rise of American authoritarianism meant for the future of polarization between the parties as well as a Republican Party that had become both more extreme and internally divided.

About 10 days later, shortly after Trump won the New Hampshire primary, the poll went into the field. In less than two weeks, we had our results.

V. How the GOP became the party of authoritarians

Donald Trump and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sign autographs during a Trump campaign event in TexasTom Pennington/Getty Images

Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sign autographs during a Trump campaign event in Texas.

The first thing that jumped out from the data on authoritarians is just how many there are. Our results found that 44 percent of white respondents nationwide scored as “high” or “very high” authoritarians, with 19 percent as “very high.” That’s actually not unusual, and lines up with previous national surveys that found that the authoritarian disposition is far from rare1.

The key thing to understand is that authoritarianism is often latent; people in this 44 percent only vote or otherwise act as authoritarians once triggered by some perceived threat, physical or social. But that latency is part of how, over the past few decades, authoritarians have quietly become a powerful political constituency without anyone realizing it.

Today, according to our survey, authoritarians skew heavily Republican. More than 65 percent of people who scored highest on the authoritarianism questions were GOP voters. More than 55 percent of surveyed Republicans scored as “high” or “very high” authoritarians.

And at the other end of the scale, that pattern reversed. People whose scores were most non-authoritarian — meaning they always chose the non-authoritarian parenting answer — were almost 75 percent Democrats.

But this hasn’t always been the case. According to Hetherington and Weiler’s research, this is not a story about how Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus. It’s a story of polarization that increased over time.

They trace the trend to the 1960s, when the Republican Party shifted electoral strategies to try to win disaffected Southern Democrats, in part by speaking to fears of changing social norms — for example, the racial hierarchies upset by civil rights. The GOP also embraced a “law and order” platform with a heavily racial appeal to white voters who were concerned about race riots.

This positioned the GOP as the party of traditional values and social structures — a role that it has maintained ever since. That promise to stave off social change and, if necessary, to impose order happened to speak powerfully to voters with authoritarian inclinations.

Democrats, by contrast, have positioned themselves as the party of civil rights, equality, and social progress — in other words, as the party of social change, a position that not only fails to attract but actively repels change-averse authoritarians.

Over the next several decades, Hetherington explained to me, this led authoritarians to naturally “sort” themselves into the Republican Party.

That matters, because as more authoritarians sort themselves into the GOP, they have more influence over its policies and candidates. It is not for nothing that our poll found that more than half of the Republican respondents score as authoritarian.

Perhaps more importantly, the party has less and less ability to ignore authoritarians’ voting preferences — even if those preferences clash with the mainstream party establishment.

VI. Trump, authoritarians, and fear

Based on our data, Morning Consult data scientist Adam Petrihos said that “among Republicans, very high/high authoritarianism is very predictive of support for Trump.” Trump has 42 percent support among Republicans but, according to our survey, a full 52 percent support among very high authoritarians.

Authoritarianism was the best single predictor of support for Trump, although having a high school education also came close. And as Hetherington noted after reviewing our results, the relationship between authoritarianism and Trump support remained robust, even after controlling for education level and gender.

Trump support was much lower among Republicans who scored low on authoritarianism: only 38 percent.

But that’s still awfully high. So what could explain Trump’s support among non-authoritarians?

I suspected the answer might lie at least partly in Hetherington and Suhay’s research on how fear affects non-authoritarian voters, so I called them to discuss the data. Hetherington crunched some numbers on physical threats and noticed two things.

The first was that authoritarians tend to fear very specific kinds of physical threats.

Authoritarians, we found in our survey, tend to most fear threats that come from abroad, such as ISIS or Russia or Iran. These are threats, the researchers point out, to which people can put a face; a scary terrorist or an Iranian ayatollah. Non-authoritarians were much less afraid of those threats. For instance, 73 percent of very high-scoring authoritarians believed that terrorist organizations like ISIS posed a “very high risk” to them, but only 45 percent of very low-scoring authoritarians did. Domestic threats like car accidents, by contrast, were much less frightening to authoritarians.

But Hetherington also noticed something else: A subgroup of non-authoritarians were very afraid of threats like Iran or ISIS. And the more fear of these threats they expressed, the more likely they were to support Trump.

This seemed to confirm his and Suhay’s theory: that non-authoritarians who are sufficiently frightened of physical threats such as terrorism could essentially be scared into acting like authoritarians.

That’s important, because for years now, Republican politicians and Republican-leaning media such as Fox News have been telling viewers nonstop that the world is a terrifying place and that President Obama isn’t doing enough to keep Americans safe.

There are a variety of political and media incentives for why this happens. But the point is that, as a result, Republican voters have been continually exposed to messages warning of physical dangers. As the perception of physical threat has risen, this fear appears to have led a number of non-authoritarians to vote like authoritarians — to support Trump.

An irony of this primary is that the Republican establishment has tried to stop Trump by, among other things, co-opting his message. But when establishment candidates such as Marco Rubio try to match Trump’s rhetoric on ISIS or on American Muslims, they may end up deepening the fear that can only lead voters back to Trump.

VII. Is America’s changing social landscape “activating” authoritarianism?

But the research on authoritarianism suggests it’s not just physical threats driving all this. There should be another kind of threat — larger, slower, less obvious, but potentially even more powerful — pushing authoritarians to these extremes: the threat of social change.

This could come in the form of evolving social norms, such as the erosion of traditional gender roles or evolving standards in how to discuss sexual orientation. It could come in the form of rising diversity, whether that means demographic changes from immigration or merely changes in the colors of the faces on TV. Or it could be any changes, political or economic, that disrupt social hierarchies.

What these changes have in common is that, to authoritarians, they threaten to take away the status quo as they know it — familiar, orderly, secure — and replace it with something that feels scary because it is different and destabilizing, but also sometimes because it upends their own place in society. According to the literature, authoritarians will seek, in response, a strong leader who promises to suppress the scary changes, if necessary by force, and to preserve the status quo.

This is why, in our survey, we wanted to study the degree to which authoritarians versus non-authoritarians expressed a fear of social change — and whether this, as expected, led them to desire heavy-handed responses.

Our results seemed to confirm this: Authoritarians were significantly more likely to rate almost all of the actual and hypothetical social issues we asked about as “bad” or “very bad” for the country.

For instance, our results suggested that an astonishing 44 percent of authoritarians believe same-sex marriage is harmful to the country. Twenty-eight percent rated same-sex marriage as “very bad” for America, and another 16 percent said that it’s “bad.” Only about 35 percent of high-scoring authoritarians said same-sex marriage was “good” or “very good” for the country.

Tellingly, non-authoritarians’ responses skewed in the opposite direction. Non-authoritarians tended to rate same-sex marriage as “good” or “very good” for the country.

The fact that authoritarians and non-authoritarians split over something as seemingly personal and nonthreatening as same-sex marriage is crucial for understanding how authoritarianism can be triggered by even a social change as minor as expanding marriage rights.

We also asked respondents to rate whether Muslims building more mosques in American cities was a good thing. This was intended to test respondents’ comfort level with sharing their communities with Muslims — an issue that has been particularly contentious this primary election.

A whopping 56.5 percent of very high-scoring authoritarians said it was either “bad” or “very bad” for the country when Muslims built more mosques. Only 14 percent of that group said more mosques would be “good” or “very good.”

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.

And America is at a point when the status quo social order is changing rapidly; when several social changes are converging. And they are converging especially on working-class white people.

It is conventional wisdom to ascribe the rise of first the Tea Party right and now Trump to the notion that working-class white Americans are angry.

Indeed they are, but this data helps explain that they are also under certain demographic and economic pressures that, according to this research, are highly likely to trigger authoritarianism — and thus suggests there is something a little more complex going on than simple “anger” that helps explain their gravitation toward extreme political responses.

Working-class communities have come under tremendous economic strain since the recession. And white people are also facing the loss of the privileged position that they previously were able to take for granted. Whites are now projected to become a minority group over the next few decades, owing to migration and other factors. The president is a black man, and nonwhite faces are growing more common in popular culture. Nonwhite groups are raising increasingly prominent political demands, and often those demands coincide with issues such as policing that also speak to authoritarian concerns.

Some of these factors might be considered more or less legitimately threatening than others — the loss of working-class jobs in this country is a real and important issue, no matter how one feels about fading white privilege — but that is not the point.

The point, rather, is that the increasingly important political phenomenon we identify as right-wing populism, or white working-class populism, seems to line up, with almost astonishing precision, with the research on how authoritarianism is both caused and expressed.

That is not to dismiss white working-class concerns as invalid because they might be expressed by authoritarians or through authoritarian politics, but rather to better understand why this is happening — and why it’s having such a profound and extreme effect on American politics.

Most of the other social-threat questions followed a similar pattern2. On its surface, this might seem to suggest that authoritarianism is just a proxy for especially hard-line manifestations of social conservatism. But when examined more carefully, it suggests something more interesting about the nature of social conservatism itself.

For liberals, it may be easy to conclude that opposition to things like same-sex marriage, immigration, and diversity is rooted in bigotry against those groups — that it’s the manifestation of specific homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

But the results of the Vox/Morning Consult poll, along with prior research on authoritarianism, suggests there might be something else going on.

There is no particular reason, after all, why parenting goals should coincide with animus against specific groups. We weren’t asking questions about whether it was important for children to respect people of different races, but about whether they should respect authority and rules generally. So why do they coincide so heavily?

What is most likely, Hetherington suggested, is that authoritarians are much more susceptible to messages that tell them to fear a specific “other” — whether or not they have a preexisting animus against that group. Those fears would therefore change over time as events made different groups seem more or less threatening.

It all depends, he said, on whether a particular group of people has been made into an outgroup or not — whether they had been identified as a dangerous other.

Since September 2001, some media outlets and politicians have painted Muslims as the other and as dangerous to America. Authoritarians, by nature, are more susceptible to these messages, and thus more likely to come to oppose the presence of mosques in their communities.

When told to fear a particular outgroup, Hetherington said, “On average people who score low in authoritarianism will be like, ‘I’m not that worried about that,’ while people who score high in authoritarianism will be like, ‘Oh, my god! I’m worried about that, because the world is a dangerous place.'”

In other words, what might look on the surface like bigotry was really much closer to Stenner’s theory of “activation”: that authoritarians are unusually susceptible to messages about the ways outsiders and social changes threaten America, and so lash out at groups that are identified as objects of concern at that given moment.

That’s not to say that such an attitude is in some way better than simple racism or xenophobia — it is still dangerous and damaging, especially if it empowers frightening demagogues like Donald Trump.

Perhaps more to the point, it helps explain how Trump’s supporters have come to so quickly embrace such extreme policies targeting these outgroups: mass deportation of millions of people, a ban on foreign Muslims visiting the US. When you think about those policy preferences as driven by authoritarianism, in which social threats are perceived as especially dangerous and as demanding extreme responses, rather than the sudden emergence of specific bigotries, this starts to make a lot more sense.

VIII. What authoritarians want

From our parenting questions, we learned who the GOP authoritarians are. From our questions about threats and social change, we learned what’s motivating them. But the final set of questions, on policy preferences, might be the most important of all: So what? What do authoritarians actually want?

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The responses to our policy questions showed that authoritarians have their own set of policy preferences, distinct from GOP orthodoxy. And those preferences mean that, in real and important ways, authoritarians are their own distinct constituency: effectively a new political party within the GOP.

What stands out from the results, Feldman wrote after reviewing our data, is that authoritarians “are most willing to want to use force, to crack down on immigration, and limit civil liberties.”

This “action side” of authoritarianism, he believed, was the key thing that distinguished Trump supporters from supporters of other GOP candidates. “The willingness to use government power to eliminate the threats — that is most clear among Trump supporters.”

Authoritarians generally and Trump voters specifically, we found, were highly likely to support five policies:

  1. Using military force over diplomacy against countries that threaten the United States
  2. Changing the Constitution to bar citizenship for children of illegal immigrants
  3. Imposing extra airport checks on passengers who appear to be of Middle Eastern descent in order to curb terrorism
  4. Requiring all citizens to carry a national ID card at all times to show to a police officer on request, to curb terrorism
  5. Allowing the federal government to scan all phone calls for calls to any number linked to terrorism

What these policies share in common is an outsize fear of threats, physical and social, and, more than that, a desire to meet those threats with severe government action — with policies that are authoritarian not just in style but in actuality. The scale of the desired response is, in some ways, what most distinguishes authoritarians from the rest of the GOP.

“Many Republicans seem to be threatened by terrorism, violence, and cultural diversity, but that’s not unique to Trump supporters,” Feldman told me.

“It seems to be the action side of authoritarianism — the willingness to use government power to eliminate the threats — that is most clear among Trump supporters,” he added.

This helps explain why the GOP has had such a hard time co-opting Trump’s supporters, even though those supporters’ immediate policy concerns, such as limiting immigration or protecting national security, line up with party orthodoxy. The real divide is over how far to go in responding. And the party establishment is simply unwilling to call for such explicitly authoritarian policies.

Just as striking is what was missing from authoritarians’ concerns. There was no clear correlation between authoritarianism and support for tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 per year, for example. And the same was true of support for international trade agreements.

These are both issues associated with mainstream GOP economic policies. All groups opposed the tax cuts, and support for trade agreements was evenly lukewarm across all degrees of authoritarianism. So there is no real divide on these issues.

But there is one more factor that our data couldn’t capture but is nevertheless important: Trump’s style.

Trump’s specific policies aren’t the thing that most sets him apart from the rest of the field of GOP candidates. Rather, it’s his rhetoric and style. The way he reduces everything to black-and-white extremes of strong versus weak, greatest versus worst. His simple, direct promises that he can solve problems that other politicians are too weak to manage.

And, perhaps most importantly, his willingness to flout all the conventions of civilized discourse when it comes to the minority groups that authoritarians find so threatening. That’s why it’s a benefit rather than a liability for Trump when he says Mexicans are rapists or speaks gleefully of massacring Muslims with pig-blood-tainted bullets: He is sending a signal to his authoritarian supporters that he won’t let “political correctness” hold him back from attacking the outgroups they fear.

This, Feldman explained to me, is “classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive.”

IX. How authoritarians will change the GOP — and American politics

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz confront Trump during the February 25 GOP debateMichael Ciaglo/Pool/Getty Images

To my surprise, the most compelling conclusion to come out of our polling data wasn’t about Trump at all.

Rather, it was that authoritarians, as a growing presence in the GOP, are a real constituency that exists independently of Trump — and will persist as a force in American politics regardless of the fate of his candidacy.

If Trump loses the election, that will not remove the threats and social changes that trigger the “action side” of authoritarianism. The authoritarians will still be there. They will still look for candidates who will give them the strong, punitive leadership they desire.

And that means Donald Trump could be just the first of many Trumps in American politics, with potentially profound implications for the country.

It would also mean more problems for the GOP. This election is already showing that the party establishment abhors Trump and all he stands for — his showy demagoguery, his disregard for core conservative economic values, his divisiveness.

But while the party may try to match Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric, and its candidates may grudgingly embrace some of his harsher policies toward immigrants or Muslims, in the end a mainstream political party cannot fully commit to extreme authoritarian action the way Trump can.

That will be a problem for the party. Just look at where the Tea Party has left the Republican establishment. The Tea Party delivered the House to the GOP in 2010, but ultimately left the party in an unresolved civil war. Tea Party candidates have challenged moderates and centrists, leaving the GOP caucus divided and chaotic.

Now a similar divide is playing out at the presidential level, with results that are even more destructive for the Republican Party. Authoritarians may be a slight majority within the GOP, and thus able to force their will within the party, but they are too few and their views too unpopular to win a national election on their own.

And so the rise of authoritarianism as a force within American politics means we may now have a de facto three-party system: the Democrats, the GOP establishment, and the GOP authoritarians.

And although the latter two groups are presently forced into an awkward coalition, the GOP establishment has demonstrated a complete inability to regain control over the renegade authoritarians, and the authoritarians are actively opposed to the establishment’s centrist goals and uninterested in its economic platform.

Over time, this will have significant political consequences for the Republican Party. It will become more difficult for Republican candidates to win the presidency because the candidates who can win the nomination by appealing to authoritarian primary voters will struggle to court mainstream voters in the general election. They will have less trouble with local and congressional elections, but that might just mean more legislative gridlock as the GOP caucus struggles to balance the demands of authoritarian and mainstream legislators. The authoritarian base will drag the party further to the right on social issues, and will simultaneously erode support for traditionally conservative economic policies.

And in the meantime, the forces activating American authoritarians seem likely to only grow stronger. Norms around gender, sexuality, and race will continue evolving. Movements like Black Lives Matter will continue chipping away at the country’s legacy of institutionalized discrimination, pursuing the kind of social change and reordering of society that authoritarians find so threatening.

The chaos in the Middle East, which allows groups like ISIS to flourish and sends millions of refugees spilling into other countries, shows no sign of improving. Longer term, if current demographic trends continue, white Americans will cease to be a majority over the coming decades.

In the long run, this could mean a GOP that is even more hard-line on immigration and on policing, that is more outspoken about fearing Muslims and other minority groups, but also takes a softer line on traditional party economic issues like tax cuts. It will be a GOP that continues to perform well in congressional and local elections, but whose divisions leave the party caucus divided to the point of barely functioning, and perhaps eventually unable to win the White House.

For decades, the Republican Party has been winning over authoritarians by implicitly promising to stand firm against the tide of social change, and to be the party of force and power rather than the party of negotiation and compromise. But now it may be discovering that its strategy has worked too well — and threatens to tear the party apart.

Scalia: Black students don’t belong at elite universities, Listen

Listen: Here’s what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has to say about black students at elite colleges. http://cnn.it/1mflUi4

Posted by CNN Politics on Friday, December 11, 2015

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Listen: Here’s what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has to say about black students at elite colleges.

It’s ironic that he’s being remembered during black history month, isn’t it?

Via www.cnn.comWashington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Friday released audio of controversial comments made by Justice Antonin Scalia suggesting that some African-Americans might be better off at “less-advanced”universities, language that has caused a national uproar and spurred condemnation from elected officials including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. John Lewis.

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well,” Scalia said Wednesday during oral arguments in a case involving a race-conscious college admissions plan. The 79-year-old justice, speaking to a hushed courtroom, then referenced a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case. “One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas,” he said, “they come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

Read: In hot-mic moment, Supreme Court justices laugh at protesters

Scalia said he wasn’t “impressed” that the University of Texas may have fewer African Americans. “Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some — you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less.”

Reid took to the Senate floor Thursday to condemn Scalia’s statements. Lewis, a civil rights icon who marched in Selma, released a statement saying he was “shocked and amazed” by Scalia. “His suggestion that African Americans would fare better at schools that are ‘less advanced’ or on a ‘slow track’ reminds me of the kind of prejudice that led to separate and unequal school systems—a policy the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional decades ago,” Lewis said.

“It’s so disappointing to hear that statement coming from a justice of the Supreme Court,” she told Politico. “It clearly shows a bias.”

Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was sitting in court when Scalia spoke.

“My first reaction was disbelief and disappointment,” Nelson said. “In a case with this much significance, for a Supreme Court justice to make comments that amplify the myth of racial inferiority, is deeply disheartening.”

Scalia’s comments have also spawned a protest Twitter hashtag, #StayMadAbby, where African-Americans have posted pictures of themselves celebrating their college graduations.

The court does not allow video into the room or any type of live broadcasts of oral arguments and only releases audio at the end of each argument week. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have pressured justices to permit live video, with no success.

‘Mismatch’ theory

While Scalia’s words reverberated outside the legal world, they were familiar to some of those who have been following the legal challenge to affirmative action in higher education.

One person who had no visible reaction to Scalia was Justice Clarence Thomas, who rarely speaks during oral arguments.

Read: Supreme Court divided in University of Texas affirmative action case

While Thomas and Scalia don’t agree on every case, they agree quite a bit.

Thomas, the only African American on the bench, has made clear that he thinks public universities should not take race into consideration. He dissented from a 2003 case that upheld the admissions program at the University of Michigan Law school.

And as for the lawyer who Scalia was addressing, Gregory S. Garre, he took the question in stride and was quick to respond forcefully. Garre, the former solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration, is defending the University of Texas against a challenge from Abigail Fisher, a white woman from Texas who is suing the university arguing she was denied admission based on her race.

“Frankly, I don’t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they’re going to inferior schools,” Garre said in response to Scalia.

Garre has defended the university before the court on two separate occasions. Like others immersed in the affirmative action debate, he likely recognized that Scalia was referring to the controversial “mismatch” theory popularized by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and legal journalist Stuart Taylor Jr. in their book, “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s intended to Help, and why Universities won’t admit it.” They filed a brief in the case, as did Gail Heriot of the University of San Diego School of Law.

“Research indicates that students who attend schools where their entering academic credentials put them towards the bottom of the class are less likely to succeed then similarly-credentialed students attending schools where their academic credentials more closely ‘match’ the typical student’s,” Heriot wrote.

Read: Affirmative Action Fast Facts

Heriot was not in court to hear Scalia, but she read a transcript of arguments and she defends Scalia’s comments. “He was trying to articulate the extensive literature that shows race-preferential admission policies end up hurting rather than helping their intended beneficiaries, especially in the area of science and engineering,” she said afterwards.

“We do ourselves a great disservice when we jump all over people for failing to phrase a question in the best possible way,” Heriot added.

The first time the Fisher case was heard by the court in 2012 the justices issued a very narrow opinion and sent the case back down to the lower court to take another look.

In a concurring opinion, Thomas echoed the mismatch theory. “The University admits minorities who otherwise would have attended less selective colleges where they would have been more evenly matched,” Thomas wrote. “But, as a result of the mismatching, many blacks and Hispanics who likely would have excelled at less elite schools are placed in a position where underperformance is all but inevitable because they are less academically prepared than the white and Asian students with whom they must compete” he said.

Read: Supreme Court declines to take up ban on assault weapons

Thomas, and his other eight colleagues all attended elite universities, a point not lost on Nelson, who took Scalia’s comment to also be a dig at historically black colleges and universities.

“In additon to denigrating an entire group of students, he also denigrated many of the institutions that have successfully served African Americans when a majority of the institutions in this country would not,” she said.

WHITE PEOPLE: The Day Beyoncé Turned Black – SNL, WATCH

The surreal streak that ran through this week’s Saturday Night Live cold open continued into the show’s first sketch, a filmed piece that lampooned the collective freakout over Beyoncé‘s Super Bowl 50 halftime show and overall blackness. Cut like a horror movie trailer, the white characters are increasingly shocked and horrified to find out that many of “their” celebrities are actually black.

via www.mediaite.com

WHITE PRIVILEGE: White thugs riot after the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory. Police?

This is disappointing. While many people celebrated the Broncos' Super Bowl victory peacefully, some were destructive. Denver Police made 12 arrests and thankfully, no one was seriously hurt.

Posted by Denver7 News & The Denver Channel on Sunday, February 7, 2016

White privilege is feeling compelled to riot when something good happens in your community, and having people in your community who are rioting NOT being called ‘thugs’ by the media.

-Paul Coate

Only 13 people arrested? Really.

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The costs of inequality: When a fair shake isn’t

inequliaty

The costs of inequality: When a fair shake isn’t

Harvard researchers, scholars identify stubborn tenets of America’s built-in inequity, offer answers

First in a series on what Harvard scholars are doing to identify and understand inequality, in seeking solutions to one of America’s most vexing problems. 

It’s a seemingly nondescript chart, buried in a Harvard Business School (HBS) professor’s academic paper.

A rectangle, divided into parts, depicts U.S. wealth for each fifth of the population. But it appears to show only three divisions. The bottom two, representing the accumulated wealth of 124 million people, are so small that they almost don’t even show up.

Other charts in other journals illustrate different aspects of American inequality. They might depict income, housing quality, rates of imprisonment, or levels of political influence, but they all look very much the same.

Perhaps most damning are those that reflect opportunity — whether involving education, health, race, or gender — because the inequity represented there belies our national identity. America, we believe, is a land where everyone gets a fair start and then rises or falls according to his or her own talent and industry. But if you’re poor, if you’re uneducated, if you’re black, if you’re Hispanic, if you’re a woman, there often is no fair start.

Percent of Total Wealth in the US

One measure of American inequality is the percentage of the nation’s overall wealth owned by different parts of the population. The graphic above shows that the richest 20 percent of the country owns 88.9 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 40 percent owes more than it owns. Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff

Inequality, of course, has become a national buzzword and a political cause célèbrein this election year. It’s been discussed everywhere in the recent past, from the State of the Union Address to Thomas Piketty’s best-seller to the lips of presidential candidates to Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si.”

Though the American public and politicians have just rediscovered the problem of inequality, the issue has long been an area of academic inquiry at Harvard, where research on its root causes crosses numerous disciplines.

Inequality in America has been on the rise in recent years, after dipping by some measures following the Gilded Age and the Great Depression. It was a reality when Harvard philosopher John Rawls wrote his seminal text, “A Theory of Justice,” in 1971. It was a reality when now-Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) lecturer Marshall Ganz organized farm workers in the Southwest in the 1960s and ’70s. It was a reality when Nancy Oriol, now dean for students at Harvard Medical School(HMS), founded the Family Van care program in 1992. It was a reality when Government Professor Jennifer Hochschild wrote “Facing Up to the American Dream” in 1995, and when other faculty members penned books and articles on the problem’s many facets. And it was an expanding reality in 2011, when HBS Professor Michael Norton published that rectangular graph, in a study that also showed that Americans really don’t know how unequal the United States is — and that, given a blind choice, they’d rather live in Sweden, thank you very much.

A blizzard of statistics illustrates the problem and, with each monthly release from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or any number of think tanks, the pile of reports grows higher. Their by-now-familiar theme is that the rich have gotten richer — dramatically so — in recent decades, while the poor have gotten poorer. And the middle class has just been hanging on.

Wages for most relatively stagnant

The details show that real wages for most U.S. workers have been relatively stagnant since the 1970s, while those for the top 1 percent have increased 156 percent, and those for the top 0.1 percent have increased 362 percent, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute.

Those trends resulted in the poorest 20 percent of Americans receiving just 3.6 percent of the national income in 2014, down from 5.7 percent in 1974. The upper 20 percent, meanwhile, received nearly half of U.S. income in 2014, up from about 40 percent in 1974, according to Census Bureau statistics.

But some analysts, such as Hochschild and Piketty, the French economist, say the area of greatest concern is overall wealth, not income alone.

“From a poverty perspective, income means a lot — making $15,000 versus $20,000,” said Hochschild, who directs the HKS-based Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy. But “from an inequality perspective — writ large — it’s about wealth. … As a ’60s kid, I care a whole lot about ownership of the means of productivity.”

In his 2013 best-seller “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Piketty argues that wealth is critically important because capital grows faster than the economy. That means that those who hold capital — assets like money, stocks, real estate — will see their wealth grow faster than those managing on wages alone. Over time, that concentrates society’s wealth into fewer hands.

America today appears to illustrate this process in action. Though the wealthiest 20 percent earned nearly half of all wages in 2014, they have more than 80 percent of the wealth. The wealth of the poorest 20 percent, as measured by net worth, is actually negative. If they sell all they own, they’ll still be in debt.

“Inequality, it’s not just about wealth, it’s about power. It isn’t just that somebody has some yachts, it’s the effect on democracy. For me, the big issue is the power problem. … I think we’re in a really scary place.”
— Marshall Ganz

The widening wealth gap isn’t just a problem for the poor, census figures show. The median net worth of some 60 percent of Americans fell between 2000 and 2011, while that of the upper 40 percent increased.

So what happened? Tax rates for the wealthy have fallen, globalization has changed the world’s and the nation’s economies, and rapidly changing technology has transformed the workplace. While those factors are in play, Norton said that nothing’s been proven yet as a dominant cause. To Hochschild, the problem’s roots lie in poverty, exacerbated by racism. The poor usually have worse health and education, leading to low-paying jobs and substandard housing, conditions that tend to be worse if you’re black, Native American, or another ethnic minority. To Ganz, a senior lecturer in public policy, that’s not an accident, and it boils down to two words.

“Political failure,” said Ganz. “I think the galloping inequality in this country results from poor political choices. There was nothing inevitable, nothing global. We made a series of political choices … that set us on this path.”

Ganz pointed to a broad deregulation push that started with fiscal restraint under President Jimmy Carter and a budget-cutting campaign to “starve the beast” of government that began with President Ronald Reagan. Collectively, the two administrations eviscerated the government’s ability to act and function as a check on private wealth, he said.

Ganz also blamed a suite of changes that eroded the power of labor unions. Their clout fell as legal protections for organizing activities eroded, beginning with the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 and continuing since. Without that protection, employers were able to pressure organizers and reduce the likelihood that unions would take hold and thrive.

“It takes a lot of courage to say — when your employer holds all the power — ‘We want something better,’” Ganz said. “This has been a real political success story for the conservative movement and private management.”

Union membership down almost half

U.S. union membership has fallen by almost half since 1983, from one in five U.S. workers to just over one in 10 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Public union membership has fared better than private labor unions, whose membership has fallen to just 6.6 percent of the workforce. Recent anti-union activities in some states have focused on those public-sector groups.

Despite their declining numbers and influence, the unions’ effect on wages remains clear. Nonunion wages in 2014 averaged $763 per week, just 79 percent of union members’ $970 per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ganz said that the impact of falling union membership is felt not just in workers’ pocketbooks, but in the halls of power, and that is the change that troubles him the most.

“Inequality, it’s not just about wealth, it’s about power,” Ganz said. “It isn’t just that somebody has some yachts, it’s the effect on democracy. For me, the big issue is the power problem. … I think we’re in a really scary place.”

To Lawrence Katz, the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics, the problem of inequality in income, wealth, and political power is exacerbated by another issue. America’s vaunted economic mobility has become decidedly less so, making it increasingly likely that where you start out financially is where you’ll wind up.

Surveys of attitudes toward wealth conducted by Norton, the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, show that while Americans believe their nation is too unequal, they also believe that some inequality is good. Workers, after all, should benefit from their own toil. The single mom who works two jobs and puts herself through school should be celebrated when she lands a better job, buys a nicer car, and moves to a better neighborhood. To a great extent, that’s the hallowed American way — when it’s possible.

Thomas Scanlon, the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity, said it’s important to think hard about why high inequality is a problem at all. That’s because the conclusions reached may underpin action. If you’re wealthy and you’re facing a hefty tax increase, or you’re a business owner bracing for a minimum-wage hike for your employees, the reason why you’ll get to keep less money and someone else will get more matters greatly.

“Philosophers are in the business of thinking hard about issues, identifying the relevant factors,” Scanlon said. “There is widespread concern about the increased gap between ‘the 1 percent’ and the rest. But it is important to be clear exactly what is bad about this.”

Altruistic motives underlie much of the national debate on the topic. One argument says the wealthy should sacrifice some of their gains to help the poor. But Scanlon said this is not the only valid reason to worry about national inequality. Workers aren’t charity cases. Instead they’re partners in the production of goods and services in this country and are entitled to a fair share of the system’s benefits, Scanlon wrote in a recent article. He agrees that inequality also results in distributing political power inequitably, making governmental institutions more unfair, and undermining the integrity of the economic system. All of that raises a key question for workers: Why bother pushing so hard?

“If an economy is producing an increasing level of goods and services, then all those who participate in producing those benefits — workers as well as others — should share in the result,” Scanlon wrote. “No one has reason to accept a scheme of cooperation that places their lives under the control of others, that deprives them of meaningful political participation, that deprives their children of the opportunity to qualify for better jobs, and that deprives them of a share of the wealth they help to produce. The holdings of the rich are not legitimate if they are acquired through competition from which others are excluded, and made possible by laws that are shaped by the rich for the benefit of the rich. In these ways, economic inequality can undermine the conditions of its own legitimacy.”

“Talent is evenly spread throughout our country. Opportunity is not. Right now, there exists an almost ironclad link between a child’s ZIP code and her chances of success.”
—  James Ryan

Others at Harvard have been pondering inequality as well, examining the issue through their own disciplinary lenses. Oriol, as director of obstetric anesthesia at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the ’80s, saw firsthand the disparities in infant mortality among the poor in Boston’s neighborhoods.

“The discussion was: Why was infant mortality, in the shadow of some of our greatest hospitals, as bad as in some developing countries? As an obstetric anesthesiologist, I saw this, and I would hear from my patients how this came to be,” she recalled. “And it just seemed wrong.”

By the early ’90s, Oriol’s effort to address the problem through a mobile medical clinic, now HMS’ Family Van, brought health screenings and referrals to the nearby neglected neighborhoods. But the van staff quickly learned that infant mortality wasn’t the only problem.

“Infant mortality was simply a sign of a community in distress,” Oriol said. “The issue was poverty and what I call being medially disenfranchised. It was all the issues of life. It was homelessness, it was not having a job — just everything.”

Over at Harvard Divinity SchoolDan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity, is examining the issue from a moral standpoint. He said society’s economic fruits — born most recently on a wave of automation and technical sophistication — make it possible to improve the lives of the poor beyond what was possible previously.

One way to do that, he said, would be to guarantee all citizens a minimum income. This would free millions from what can become “wage slavery,” he said, and allow people to follow passions and creative urges. McKanan acknowledged that such a scheme — which might be accomplished by expanding Social Security — is politically unlikely, but said it is the role of academics to think deeply about how to create a more moral and just society that works better.

Though the resultant redistribution of wealth represented by McKanan’s idea would be too extreme for many Americans, Norton’s survey work on the topic does show that Americans want a more equal society than exists now.

A surprising central finding of Norton’s research is that we really don’t know how unequal the United States is. In a 2011 study, conducted with Duke University’s Dan Ariely, Americans consistently underestimated just how unequal the nation is and said their preferred wealth distribution ― while preserving some inequality — is more leveling than their inaccurate understanding of the current state of affairs.

In a blind test, we’ll take Sweden

Those surveyed guessed that the top 20 percent of Americans own 60 percent of the wealth, not the more than 80 percent they actually have. Further, when shown three unlabeled wealth distributions ― one completely equal, one dramatically skewed (and in fact representing divisions in the United States today), and a third using the income distribution of modern Sweden — 92 percent preferred the Swedish model.

“We want to be in Sweden, all subgroups want to be in Sweden, if people could distribute the wealth any way they wanted,” Norton said. “Everyone is OK with rich and poor, but almost no one prefers the current state of the world.”

But that agreement in a controlled study doesn’t translate to easy political fixes, Norton said.

norton-graph-wealth

Actual U.S. wealth distribution plotted against estimated and ideal distributions. Source: Building a Better America

“We had the perhaps naïve idea that we could show people the reality, and their attitudes and behavior would change,” Norton said. “But I’m a behavioral scientist, and we know that information alone is often not enough. It’s not an information problem, it’s an action problem.”

It’s not surprising that liberals say there’s too much inequality, or that the very poor believe the gap between the rich and themselves is too big. But Norton said most conservatives and the wealthy also agree that the gap is too big. The problem, he said, is that the different camps disagree on solutions. A minimum wage hike to some is a direct way to get money in people’s pockets. To others, though, it’s a way to get someone’s job taken away. Another problem, he said, is that many people distrust the government — which many blame for the dichotomy in the first place — to fix it.

Without meaningful action, American inequality will continue to be felt not just in the economic arena, but in many other facets of American life, including criminal justice, health, and education, among others.

When Norton surveyed HBS alumni on the subject as part of the School’s 2015 Survey on U.S. Competitiveness, many respondents pointed toward education as both a cause of inequality and a potential solution.

That’s a point of view that Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan understands. The ideal of American education is equal quality for all, but it has never been achieved, Ryan said in an interview, and understanding why that is true, and how to change it, is the core mission of the School he leads.

“Talent is evenly spread throughout our country. Opportunity is not,” Ryan said. “Right now, there exists an almost ironclad link between a child’s ZIP code and her chances of success.”

Some progress has been made. Minority educational achievement has improved over the past 40 years, and achievement gaps have narrowed some between minorities and whites, and between women and men, according to the four-year report card from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But gaps persist. The 44-point reading gap that existed between black and white 9-year-olds in 1971 had narrowed by 2012, but still stood at 23 points, according to the report.

2016_28_01_Gazette_Higher_Ed_Graphic_922x600

Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education that an individual has completed. Source: Census. Graphic by Judy Blomquist/Harvard Staff

That story is mirrored in higher education, with some gains but persistent gaps. The proportion of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees awarded to blacks and Hispanics all increased, though progress slowed the higher the degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In the 2009-10 academic year, blacks earned 14 percent of all associate’s degrees, on a par with their 13.2 percent representation in the population. But they earned only 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 12 percent of master’s, and 7.4 percent of doctorates.

Those figures also mask the fact that while black women have progressed and earn disproportionately more of those degrees, the gaps for black men have been slower to close, according to a 2012 report from the National Center for Education Statistics.

At the same time, black men are overrepresented in U.S. jails, according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Justice. At a time when society, in the wake of racial flare-ups in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere, has been questioning just how evenhanded its law enforcement practices are, African-American men make up 37 percent of the prison population, compared with 32 percent white and 22 percent Hispanic. In the general population, blacks make up 13 percent, whites 62 percent, and Hispanics 17.

Bruce Western, the Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, professor of sociology, and director of HKS’ Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, is among the Harvard faculty members examining the problems of dramatic inequality in the criminal justice system. In today’s America, Western said in an interview, an outsized two-thirds of African-American men with low levels of schooling will spend time in prison, losing years when they could be building careers while gaining a stigma that can undercut the rest of their lives.

Archon Fung, academic dean and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at HKS, said scholars are approaching the issue from many angles. Some are concerned with what he termed “the floor,” the problems of those in the bottom 10 or 20 percent, while others are concerned with the gulf between rich and poor.

“Some people are more floor people, and some are more gap people,” Fung said.

A third focus, Fung said, concerns mobility and opportunity, or how easy or hard it is to move between social classes.

Fung himself works on democracy and participation. Through that lens, he’s concerned with the floor, the gap, and how political participation and influence may be restricted for those at the bottom who lack influence.

What is clear, Fung said, is that those who are well-off simply have more: more money to donate to candidates, more time to volunteer in their communities, and more resources generally that allow them to participate and thrive in civil society. All of that, he said, is reflected in studies that have shown that government is more responsive to those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder.

In the end, Fung said, “Preserving the integrity of our democracy may be the most important reason to address poverty and inequality.”

Gazette staff writers Colleen Walsh, Christina Pazzanese, and Corydon Ireland contributed to this report.

Illustration by Kathleen M.G. Howlett.