Sadopopulism and the Government Shutdown
Are you surprised that Trump is destroying the government-literally pulling down the house-while his fans cheer? They want a “disrupter” even if they’re the ones most likely to be hurt by a disruption. Don’t be surprised. It’s what Timothy Snyder calls Sadopopulism.
From a Trump supporter:
1/ From @MaggieNYT: Trump’s base “thrills at his fights with the establishment, seeing him as warrior against self-satisfied elites who look down on many Americans.”
Remember that “the establishment” includes the government and public institutions.
2/ OK, so why does about 35% of the population want to destroy our government and public institutions? Historian Richard Hofstadter, in his classic work, explained that “status anxiety” and “overaggressive” politics occurs when a dominant group feels an “existential threat.”
3/ In plain language, the “dominant group,” white patriarchal Christians, believe they are being displaced by minorities and immigrants and “others.” White patriarchal Christians think they’re the “real” America.
Remember this?: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/23/opinion/oe-brooks23
4/ They also don’t believe equality is possible. They believe nature favors a hierarchy. So when new groups are given equality, they feel they’re losing something. They feel victimized. From Stanley:
They blame the establishment for putting others ahead of them, the “real” Americans.
5/ If this sounds anti-American, remember our history of white patriarchy: Slavery, Trail of Tears, etc. Since 1955 (Brown v. Board of Education) the federal government has been steadily giving rights to minorities, blacks, immigrants, women, etc.
6/ Trump’s supporters believe the federal government is therefore not legitimate and should be dismantled. If you wonder why Trump is drilling down on policies that please about 35% of the population, remember the 35% is a majority of the GOP. The GOP holds enormous power.
7/ As long as Trump holds on to that on to his 35%, he owns the GOP. If he loses his base, he has nothing. To see where such destructiveness leads, just look at Hungary. Workers must now work overtime:
Why is Hungary forcing workers to work overtime? It is running out of workers, because 1) Young Hungarians are emigrating, 2) Birth rates are low, and 3) Hungary has one of Europe’s most restrictive immigration laws. @NYTimes https://t.co/f89vpJg6gk
— Timur Kuran (@timurkuran) December 23, 2018
8/ Professor @fhollenbach calls Hungary’s forced overtime “unintended consequences of authoritarianism.” https://twitter.com/fhollenbach/status/1076840393399062533 ‚Ä¶ Having studied Timothy Snyder, I suggest that the consequences were very much intended.
9/ Snyder explains that today’s fascists engage in what he calls “sadopopulism.” A person who wants both power and wealth governs by devising policies that deliberately hurt their constituents. (Tax cuts for the rich, repeal ACA, etc.)
10/ The leader inflicts suffering, then blames it on “enemies”: the Democrats, immigrants, minorities, etc. Some people are mystified why so many people vote against their own economic interests. They do it because there’s something they want more: protection from “danger.”
11/ Hence, the wall. Trump tells his followers it will protect them. It costs $$ billions. Most of us know the wall would add nothing of value, and would not actually help his constituents, the way things like better public education or better health care would.
12/ If the wall also bankrupts the US, causes massive destruction, and turns people against each other, that’s all bonus for Trump. The question for 2019 is whether our democratic institutions will withstand Trump’s assault. Spoiler: Yes, they will. Because they are.
13/ Congress caved into the president, which created our constitutional crisis of the past two years.
Then the correct result occurred: The voters handed the House to the Democrats.
14/ I was prepared to offer a full argument-with evidence -that our institutions are withstanding the assault: the independence of prosecutors and agencies, courts, free press, etc. But 14 tweets is long enough for a thread, don’t you think? So I’ll save it for another day.
December 24, 2018