Trump — The Authoritarian Leader and his movement: Politics and mass psychology in America

Authoritarianism and mass psychology in America: The Leader and his movement

Something has happened in America. It is also happening in other democracies in Europe.

A kind of mass psychology is taking over more and more minds. More and more people, especially in the Republican Party, are surrendering to the will of the mass Leader, the newly dominant authoritarian president of the United States.

The unprincipled means used against his opponents, a massive propaganda effort which only grows in brashness and its attacks on all who oppose the Leader, and the surrender of Republican Congressmen and Senators to the Leader’s will, all bode ill for the future of the Republic.

While Democrats and independent-minded citizens are highly critical of the new Leader, he holds the reigns of power in the office of the Presidency of the United States. He has the power to blow the world up tomorrow. This could occur in an escalation launched by a fit of fury, or as a result of accident made more likely by his intemperate speech and actions directed at the leader of North Korea, including his threats of using force.

The Republicans have ceased to be a democratic force within the body politic, accepting and propagating monstrous lies, while accepting on a daily basis behavior that is beyond the pale. This behavior is that of an authoritarian leader who is well on his way toward establishing an authoritarian government in the United States.

This sounds extreme, but just think: The Leader may continue his obstruction of justice by firing the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, as the latter’s investigation gets closer and closer to Trump’s family and associates, and to Trump himself.

What would happen then?

The Leader’s Republican followers in the House would most likely block any move toward impeachment, just as Republicans have drawn out and blocked investigations underway in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and in the Senate Judiciary Committee. House Republicans could even, and probably would, block the holding of hearings on the issue of impeachment.

Congressional Republicans have demonstrated that their principal aim is to distract attention from any serious investigation into the Russian intervention in the 2016 elections and the complicity of Trump and his associates in Russian activities. Their investigations are going nowhere. They have reached no conclusions. They have proposed no legislation to deal with the Russian threat in the 2018 and 2020 elections. They are launching diversionary tactics to draw attention away form the main subjects of investigation.

The Wall Street Journal, whose news columns once contained solid reporting, has turned into a rag for the Leader and his Republican party. Aside from Peggy Noonan, there is hardly a reasonable voice left to be heard on the editorial pages.

Yesterday the Journal dismissed the Christopher Steele dossier as consisting of “unverified” allegations, in a news column, without so much as mentioning the fact that many of the dossier’s assertions have been corroborated or born out by subsequent events. Yesterday’s Editorial pulled out all the stops in attacking the Christopher Steele dossier, and the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign for paying for it after its Republican sponsors withdrew following the primary, all the while failing to address any of its contentions. The Editorial then attacked the FBI and Robert Mueller, who it argued should resign because of the conflict of interest resulting from his long tenure at the FBI.

This is shrill hysteria, divorced from reality and any desire to get to the truth.

The Wall Street Journal, with Fox News and House and Senate Republicans, appear to be getting their marching orders from the Leader and his White House. White House press briefings increasingly seem divorced from verifiable reality.

We digress. The absolutely remarkable development is that some 30-40% of the American electorate don’t seem to care if the Leader is lying or telling the truth, or whether he is bullying and threatening people like the Mayor of San Juan, a congresswoman from Florida, or any politicians who oppose him.

The news here is that mass psychology and hysteria have gained a powerful foothold in the American political psyche. In many ways, this development is reminiscent of what happened in Germany in the 1930’s. We have a cult Leader, and a growing cult that believes anything that the Leader says, and is willing to overlook any outrage that the Leader commits.

Business leaders calculate that they can benefit from the new arrangement, or at least if they keep their heads low they will not be targeted for attack. They do not stand up.

Those Republicans who do stand up and criticize the Leader are now ignored or ridiculed by their Republican colleagues and the Leader’s followers.

The violence that is latent in the authoritarian ideology of the Leader lies just beneath the surface of the psyche of his followers.

As we learned in the McCarthy era, it takes great courage to stand up and oppose authoritarian tactics.

The time window for effective action may be limited. The U.S. has done little to protect itself against Russian intervention in the next elections. Without effective defenses, they could be decisively affected by further Russian interventions.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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