Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jonathan Weiler

Jonathan Weiler, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is co-author of Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics.

From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: What is the thesis of the book?

WEILER: The thesis of the book is that the polarization that we've seen in American politics over the last 30 years or so that everybody recognizes is a particularly intense and acrimonious form of polarization is actually being driven at the grass-roots level, at the base of the two parties, by differences in personality among the voters supporting those two parties.

ZAKARIA: And the personality of those voters is that there are certain kinds of voters, now mostly on the Republican side, who like authoritarian-style politics.

What does that mean? What is it that they are attracted to?

WEILER: Yeah, so what they're attracted to is they believe very strongly in a need for social order as traditionally defined. And they feel very fearful and resentful toward groups and social norms that might challenge that traditional order.

ZAKARIA: And these voters have certain personality traits that predispose them to like authoritarian-style politics?

WEILER: That's right. It's going to -- those personality traits are going to attract them to leaders who speak in clear, simple, direct terms about imposing order on the world around them.

ZAKARIA: When did people start trying to figure out whether people, ordinary people, had tendencies toward authoritarian style or non- authoritarian style?

WEILER: So research into authoritarianism, mass authoritarianism is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue