by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Much time has been spent arguing why Donald Trump’s proposed policies would hurt the United States from a conservative point of view. There’s nothing conservative, for example, about a massive tariff on Chinese goods or single-payer healthcare, both of which he has advocated. But perhaps the people who pack into assembly halls for Trump like him not for his policies or personality, but rather for the way he would run government.
The variable that best predicts whether someone supports Trump is how inclined they are to view authoritarianism favorably, according to research by Matthew MacWilliams, who is writing his dissertation on authoritarianism. “Trump’s electoral strength — and his staying power — have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations,” MacWilliams writes in Politico. While there are reasons to take MacWilliams’s methods with a grain of salt, the point remains that many of Trump’s supporters like him for the “strength” he wants to instill in the White House.
As a reminder, authoritarianism subordinates individual freedom to the power of the state, specifically the executive. It is undemocratic and evil. Look to the current rulers in North Korea, China and Cuba for examples of authoritarian countries. Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution is strong enough to keep the country from becoming like those regimes.
If you think executive power has been abused under President Obama, imagine how much worse it would be under a President Trump. Remember, Obama has taken the attitude, “If Congress won’t act, I will,” on issues like gun control, immigration reform and Obama’s preferred jobs bills.