[update below] [2nd update below] [3rd update below]
It’s been all Trump all the time this week, on my social media news feeds and the US publications and websites I follow. Even here in France Trump is the first thing people bring up in conversation. I’ve read dozens of articles on the GOP’s crack-up over the past several days and made several categorical assertions on social media—which have led to spirited exchanges—and with the intention of developing into longer blog posts. As I’m on R&R this week, however (here at the present moment), I’ve actually had less time to write than usual. I’ll try to find it in the coming days. In the meantime, here’s one of the more important pieces I’ve read on the Trump phenomenon, and specifically on his voters, “The rise of American authoritarianism,” by Amanda Taub, posted March 1st on the Vox website. The lede: “A 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 article is long—maybe overly so—and somewhat repetitive, but is essential. And the conclusion is sobering, indeed worrisome, and particularly for Republicans distraught at Trump’s hostile takeover of their party (see, in particular, the article’s part V).
One good piece read in the past couple of hours: John Cassidy, “The Problem with the ‘Never Trump’ moment,” in The New Yorker (March 3rd). Make sure to read Reihan Salam’s analysis in Slate of the GOP’s predicament that Cassidy links to, which is one of the best I’ve seen on the subject.
Another instructive analysis read today: “Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win,” by Max Ehrenfreund, in WaPo’s Wonkblog (March 3rd).
BTW, the reaction in France to Trump—in my own experience, at least—has been one of comprehension and commiseration, as, after three-plus decades of Le Pen (père et fille) and double-digit election scores of the Front National—the festering boil of French politics—people here know the phenomenon well.
UPDATE: Political scientists Wendy Rahn and Eric Oliver have a must-read piece (March 9th) on WaPo’s Monkey Cage blog, “Trump’s voters aren’t authoritarians, new research says. So what are they?,” in which they summarize an academic paper of theirs (which is linked to) which empirically demonstrates that Trump supporters are no more authoritarian than those of Cruz or Rubio (with Cruz supporters, in fact, being even more authoritarian). What distinguishes Trump supporters from those of other Republican candidates is anti-elitism, i.e. populism. Take a look at the bar graph figure on “how supporters of the candidates compare on four key psychological traits” (Sanders supporters are particularly noteworthy here).
See also Thomas B. Edsall’s post (March 8th) in the NYT opinion page, “Donald Trump, the winning wild card.”
2nd UPDATE: Political scientist and geopolitical forecaster George Friedman has a worthwhile analysis (March 7th) of “The roots of Trump’s strength,” on a website called Mauldin Economics. Those roots, he says, are in the white lower-middle class.
3rd UPDATE: Political analyst and historian Thomas Frank—of What’s the Matter with Kansas? fame—has an opinion piece in The Guardian (March 8th) that merits consideration, “Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump: Here’s why.” The lede: “When he isn’t spewing insults, the Republican frontrunner is hammering home a powerful message about free trade and its victims.”