People love their dictators,” Gene Sharp remarked casually, as if stating some obvious fact. I was shocked, for it had never occurred to me that people in general—ordinary, normal people—ever prefer dictatorships. Instead, I had considered that a sign of some rare, grave pathology.
But lately I’ve been thinking back on our conversation, especially after watching the US election, when almost half of the American voters showed their allegiance to the most anti-democratic president in history. And the US is not unique; look around the world and you’ll see adoring voters supporting Putin, Xi, Duterte, Modi, Orban, Kaczynski, Bolsonaro, Erdogan…the list goes on. Something is happening on a global scale that threatens civilization itself. We cannot suggest a solution unless we understand it, and everyone seems baffled.
When half or more of any population seems irrational, we can’t call them all crazy, so what’s the explanation? Gene is gone and I never asked him about his theory, so instead I find myself mentally re-playing old sociological debates. One of them, inevitably, is between Karl Marx and Max Weber. And on that point at least, the evidence looks conclusive: today’s worldwide polarization is not about money.
Karl Marx and Max Weber famously disagreed about the nature of social hierarchies. Marx maintained that the crucial societal conflict was always between social classes and about the control over the means of production—material interests. Though he recognized that the dominant class sometimes dupes the others into “false consciousness”—ignorance of their own interests—he reduced all societal conflicts to economic struggles between social classes.
Weber, on the other hand, while recognizing the importance of social classes and economic control, also paid attention to two other types of hierarchy that did not interest Marx: status and power. Although class, status, and power are connected, no one of them is invariably the most important. Weberians (and I am one) tend to attribute social conflicts to status rivalry instead of money and property. Status is mainly prestige. People at the top are accorded dignity and social honor, whereas those at the bottom are treated with contempt.
However, even mainstream TV and newspaper commentators seem surprisingly Marxist, for they mainly attribute today’s global upsurge of right-wing populist movements to working class anger about their economic conditions. Take the analyses of the recent US elections as examples. The typical explanation of support for Trump is that he won in 2016 because he promised to bring back the good industrial jobs that corporate globalization had sent abroad. And indeed, Trump did get some support in 2016 from under-employed industrial workers in rust-belt areas.
But financial interests can explain only a little about the 2016 election and even less in 2020. Trump’s voters had a higher _average income than people who voted for Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. His popularity in 2016 was highest among _older, less educated, rural, white Christian (though not religiously practicing) males.1 Most Trump voters were not working class,2 nor did workers engage in Marxian class struggle by voting overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders. Trump did promise to fatten the wallets of unemployed workers, but he also pledged to take away their health care. Most voters knew he would give tax breaks to the rich, not to the poor, and this did not offend them. Instead of resenting the billionaire for cheating workers, they laughed about his gold-plated toilet. During one debate, when Hillary Clinton speculated that he was hiding his tax returns because he was not paying taxes, he replied that it showed how smart he was—and most voters apparently agreed. Such popular attitudes show the absence of class conflict.
The election results in 2020 fit Marx’s economic explanation even less. The numerous exit polls confound class-based analyses. When I analyze tables to judge the causal impact of various social factors, I disregard variables as of minor importance if they show less than about 20 percentage points difference between contrasting categories. It’s a simple criterion, but adequate to prove that age, education level, income level, marital status, the presence of young children at home, and union membership had little or no impact on whether citizens voted for Republicans or Democrats.3 The correlations were trivial or non-existent.
In fact, the effects of education and income seem contradictory: With increasing education came slightly more Democratic voting (but only for those with post-graduate degrees), whereas with increasing income came slightly more Republican voting (but only for those with annual w2incomes above $100,000). There is no coherent Marxian explanation for these findings.
I almost wish that Marxists were right—that people mainly do seek economic advantages—for that would make it easier to negotiate rational political deals. (Even ten-year-old kids can figure out how to divide up money.) But tragically, many truly democratic elections are won by people who do not rationally maximize their own material wellbeing, much less that of the whole world. Nobody forces democracies such as the UK, Canada, and the US to quit the EU, the Paris Agreement, and WHO; subsidize fossil fuels; or modernize NATO’s nuclear weapons. Voters freely choose politicians who will do those things. Evidently, many of us democrats are too irrational even to pursue our own interests. Worldwide, people are giving up on democracy and electing “strong leaders” who violate constitutions and human rights for the sake of acquiring more power. Freedom House reports that for the fifteenth consecutive year, freedom has been declining, country by country, around the world.
Moreover, about half of us do not even support our own moral values. In the US, 74 million citizens recently voted for an abusive narcissist who breaks every norm of civilized discourse, despoils the environment, molests women, incarcerates toddlers, denies scientific facts, cheats financially, lies twenty times a day, deprives sick people of medical care, and contests the legitimacy of any election that he loses. (Have I left anything out? Yes, if we shift our gaze to China or Myanmar we see genocidal rulers, and if we look at Russia we see one whose political enemies are shot or poisoned with polonium or Novichok. Trump is a petty crook in comparison to those people—who are nevertheless even more adored than himself.)4
Friends, we need to understand the popularity of such dangerous people.
I noticed that only two demographic variables are strongly associated with support for Trump: race and rural/urban residence. Black Americans overwhelmingly voted against Trump and rural people overwhelmingly voted for him. You cannot explain away their polarized responses as reflecting class differences, for economic variables have little impact on vote choices. Neither race nor location of residence are indicators of social class, but in the US today, they form “status groups.” Social rank, not money, is the basis of status, and what blacks and whites alike resent is being cheated of the dignity and respect they deserve. The very title “Black Lives Matter” says it all; many whites regard blacks as if their lives did not matter.
Likewise, rural Americans resent the loss of their traditional status as the backbone of free society. Population density has long explained a huge amount of the variation in voting patterns. For example, in the 2012 US election, 98% of the 50 most dense counties voted for Obama, while 98% of the 50 least dense counties voted for Romney.5 And according to The Economist, urban and rural voters are more divided today than they were in 2012 or 2016.
In an article about the rural voters of Iowa, who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, Chris McGreal explained it by quoting a mechanic:
“People felt slighted by them calling us racist hicks and talking about the backwards midwest out in the sticks…It was a huge insult to say that you support Trump because you’re a racist. A lot of them here voted for Obama. The Democrats see us as uneducated, simple thinkers who’ve got guns. It’s a huge boon for the Republican party of Iowa.”7
Arlie Hochschild’s book Strangers in their Own Land,8 describes the prevailing attitudes in “red states” before Trump was even a candidate. Having spent many weeks in Louisiana talking with Tea Party supporters, she noted that, like other “red states,” Louisiana needed federal funding more than “blue states,” yet they rejected it. They were suffering from the worst health care, unemployment, educational systems, and environmental pollution. Some people, fully aware that the petrochemical industry was dumping toxins into the pond behind their home that had killed members of their own families, nevertheless didn’t want the government to stop it. That’s not what angered them.
Instead, their political protests reflected their resentment for being considered culturally backward. And indeed, their status has slipped downward on America’s prestige scale, while other status groups—immigrant Latinos and Muslims, disabled people, women, gays, and transgenders—have been rising, with the encouragement of liberals and urban professionals. This rivalry—now called “identity politics”9 —is bitter.
When status groups express their mutual resentments, the hot issues are often about cultural differences, not practical problems. Indeed, real risks are sometimes discounted as merely symbolic—as in the cases of guns and masks. In realistic terms, gun ownership reduces American life expectancy, but Republicans disregard the mortality statistics and take offence at the disdain of “urban, coastal elites” toward their gun culture. Likewise, although it is clear that masks do inhibit the spread of COVID, the evidence is often ignored by Trump supporters, who see mask-wearing as a hostile political pronouncement.
Democrats and Republicans now represent opposing status groups that are radically polarized regarding several issues, some of which are practical and realistic, while others are more about lifestyle and customs. America’s ‘culture war’ is about abortion10; capital punishment11; gun control12; Employment Discrimination Act (prohibiting discrimination by sexual orientation or gender identity); the Equal Rights Amendment (prohibiting discrimination against females); legalization of same-sex marriages13; major reform (or ‘defunding’) of police14; and legalization of marijuana.15
Some disputes are more readily resolved by legislation than others. For example, the ‘winner-takes-all’ system of representation in the US means that rural voters will continue to wield a disproportionate amount of political power; reforming the system is required for the fulfillment of political equality.16 Whether such reforms can be achieved is one question, but whether doing so would reduce America’s levels of status resentment is quite another—and more difficult—question.
Unlike money, prestige or status is entirely a comparative measure; it reflects rank. And (unlike the children of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, who are all above average) identity groups cannot all rank above average. Logically, for every high-ranking group, there must be a lower-ranking one. As long as human beings make invidious comparisons, this problem cannot be quite solved. And low status cannot be a happy condition. It’s probably harder to reconcile a society divided by status than one divided by class interests.
The NY Times columnist Frank Bruni, shocked by the “softness of the spanking that voters just gave President Trump,” seems to accept this Weberian “status rivalry” explanation. He quotes a Democratic ex-Senator from North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, who surmised that Republicans resisted being told to wear masks because it came across as preachy and finger-wagging.
“People don’t like being judged,” she said. That’s why some maskless Americans lash out at the masked. They regard face coverings as an “implied judgment.”17 As shaming.
Finger-wagging and preaching can only be done when there is some differential in moral, intellectual, or cultural status. The higher status person can heap shame on the lower-status person. I want to suggest that Trump’s supporters are enthusiastic primarily because _he models an unusual (and amazingly effective) bravado for resisting shame.
Nobody likes to feel humiliated, of course, but shame and guilt are actually necessary for social discipline. Yet shame is a double-edged sword. Whenever shaming is used, even for the sake of maintaining decency and social order, it causes pain. Sometimes people refuse to be chastened, but instead form a fascist political movement strong enough to jeopardize civilization itself.
Consider Nazis, for an extreme example. Right-wing demagogues all show fascist attitudes that attract people who feel humiliated. Trump displayed his leadership among such people by expressing approval for under-educated rural white supremacist male neo-Nazis. Everywhere on the planet today such “cultural underdogs” are resisting the shame assigned to them, chanting: “Make America/ UK/ Russia/ India/ China/ Poland/ Hungary/ Brazil Great Again!” This vaunted “greatness” would characterize a society in which high status is not reserved for experts and scientists in urban areas who professionally produce accurate information. Lying and intimidation would be okay.
Few voters in all these countries are fascists, of course. Some of them can provide coherent ideological arguments. Wendy Brown has described the nature of their shared anti-democratic ideology as a merger of two movements: neoliberalism and neoconservatism.18 Neoliberalism is the belief that, not only the economy but also the state itself, should be dominated by market rationality. Citizens are supposedly rational economic actors in every sphere of life and their moral stature is determined by their ability to provide for their own needs. Even in government, productivity and profitability are the main criteria. Neoconservatism is a desire for a strong state that is always prepared for war, and which empowers corporations, religions, and conventional family values.19 Put these two doctrines together and you have Trumpism and Putinism.
For the sake of reducing polarization, we sometimes look for ways of mollifying people who promote such ideologies—ways of demonstrating respect for them which we do not really feel. Is it possible to heal a polarized society by compromising with their grossly immoral politics? Even if it were ethically justifiable, it would be difficult or impossible to accomplish. We cannot change such people—but can we even live with them?
Maybe so—if we approach them in the spirit of therapists dealing with pathological personalities. This is awkward, for although they are mentally unwell, we recall the same illness in ourselves: chronic humiliation, which everyone has felt at times. Unfortunately, the future of democracy may depend on our developing better mechanisms for managing the shame of low status. The most widely used mechanism today is evidently a public posture that I’ll call “counter-phobia,” which is superbly demonstrated every day by Donald Trump.
People love their dictators, not despite their immoral conduct, but precisely for it. Demagogues feel no shame, and so long as they successfully resist shame, their followers can vicariously bluff and hide their own embarrassment.
Populist nationalism is both a personality trait and a political ideology. It arises where there is a deficit of empathy. When people lack empathy, they can avoid feeling shame or guilt when they should. Dictators appeal precisely by enabling their followers to feel comfortable in supporting cruelty and injustice.
“Character is destiny,” said Heraclitus. If he is right, then destiny of a nation may depend on the character of the leader it chooses. Then what determines the character of the candidates? Personality traits (e.g. temperament, particular aptitudes, shyness), can be partly inherited, but _character _traits are evidently learned.
“Character” includes moral traits such as generosity, fairness, and compassion, which put the interests of others ahead of one’s own. Such altruistic motives are not learned easily. Even good people are not always good, but moral educators have success stories to tell, as well as failures, and we can learn from them. They say that children learn self-discipline and compassion from the adults around them.
Two books shed light on the markedly dissimilar moral educations of Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist and the daughter of Donald’s older brother Freddy. Her book, Too Much and Never Enough, portrays those two boys’ father, Fred, as a real estate mogul and ruthless bully who “expected obedience, that was all.”
Because of poor health, Fred’s wife could not nurture her children adequately—and besides, she was expected to rear only their daughters, while Fred would raise their three boys. He wanted them to be invulnerable—“killers,” as he put it—so when Freddy disappointed him by becoming a mild airline pilot, he turned his full attention instead to Donald, teaching him to “be tough at all costs, lying is okay, admitting you’re wrong or apologizing is weakness.” … To Fred, “there can be only one winner and everybody else is a loser (an idea that essentially precluded the ability to share) and kindness is weakness.”20
Contrast that narrative with Obama’s account of his own moral education. He repeats this message in his memoir21 and speeches, calling current political problems the result of an increasing “deficit of empathy.” His own capacity for empathy had been instilled by his mother, Ann Denham, who had consistently demanded it, as he recounted to Oprah Winfrey:
“She taught me empathy. The basic concept of standing in somebody else’s shoes and looking through their eyes. And she—if I did something, messed up, she’d just say, `How would that make you feel if somebody did that to you?’ And that ends up being, I think, at the center of my politics. And I think that should be the center of all our politics.”22
Of the many methods of teaching morality to children, punishment is probably the most commonly used, but evidently a better method is empathy, which instills the inevitability of feeling guilt or shame after doing wrong. Whatever we might later feel ashamed of having done, we refrain from doing.
But that only works after our conscience is fully operational, and it is empathy that plants those fertile seeds of remorse. Barack Obama’s mother was tough enough to persist until her son would recount his vicarious walks in his adversaries’ shoes; Donald Trump’s mother never tried that, or maybe just gave up too soon.
Sometimes these moral lessons become dramatic contests of will. I have witnessed a few such struggles. I remember especially one entire day observing a mother’s effort to evoke penitence in her five-year-old boy, who had done something egregiously cruel (I forget what). She believed that if he did not acknowledge remorse on that crucial occasion, a milestone would have been crossed and a faulty character trait would have been set for life.
In retrospect I think she was right. I know the adult son, who is no sociopath, but far from a Barack Obama either. When reminded of an obligation that he is not fulfilling, he usually dismissively replies, “Don’t guilt-trip me.”
Guilt and shame are prerequisites for a virtuous character—precisely because they are so unpleasant to most of us. But then, there is Donald Trump, who apparently never feels shame or guilt. It is exactly this brazenness that fascinates us. We are amazed to watch his insouciance when caught in scandals that would mortify anyone else. How does he do it?
Where others would feel guilt, sociopaths display little, if any, remorse. Where others would feel embarrassed, they flaunt their outrage or brag about it. This is counterphobia. I’ll illustrate with two contrasting types of shame-management.
Example One is an old story about a prim Arab, Abdul al-Souri, who was in a public meeting when he loudly broke wind. Overcome with humiliation, he fled to a faraway city. Thirty years passed before he dared visit his hometown, where he began talking in the street with a young boy. He mentioned that he had been away since 1830. “Oh,” said the boy. “That was the year when Abdul al-Souri farted.” Abdul fled again and never returned.
Example Two is the title of an essay, “Fart Proudly,” by Benjamin Franklin which perfectly expresses the defence mechanism that psychoanalysts call “counterphobia.”23 When Franklin served as ambassador to France, he wrote a number of naughty but witty essays, including a discussion of flatulence. Just by humorously alluding to this taboo topic, he demonstrated a massively strong ego—precisely the quality that (if maintained successfully) qualifies a person as a leader—or at least a celebrity.
There has never been a more beloved American than Ben Franklin, who even surpassed Donald Trump in his masterful use of counterphobia. Unlike Franklin, Trump lacks any sense of humor, so his counterphobia is a more serious act to maintain.
Almost everyone fears something that makes us anxious—snakes, say, flying in planes, or public speaking—and try to avoid it. Only rare individuals do the opposite: Whatever they fear might happen, they perform deliberately in public. A counterphobic who fears heights becomes a skydiver, for example. Or an ambassador who fears making an embarrassing faux pas at court jokes about farting proudly.
Of course, counterphobia is a risky game to play, for if people don’t go along with your outrageous pretensions, you’ll be twice as embarrassed. Once you start taking that kind of risk, you have to keep it up. You can never again play shy or run away, as Abdul Al-Souri did. Successful public demonstrations of counterphobia can confer enormous charisma—but at great cost. You have to maintain that public persona forever, and never again demonstrate normal levels of modesty. Few people can do it well. We are fascinated by those who can.
Probably Donald Trump’s greatest fear early in life was of being laughed at for some stupid blunder—but his father would not let him flee in humiliation, so he learned never, never, never to acknowledge any personal flaws or weaknesses. As a counterphobic, he pretends to be proud of every shameful act (e.g. by telling Hillary that not paying his taxes proves that he is smart). Sometimes he uses another defence mechanism called projection. As his niece Mary points out, before Donald is accused of doing something, he loudly blames someone else for doing precisely that. “It’s a disgrace!” he often accuses others, thereby avoiding the sting of shame himself. A champion liar himself, he charges fact-checking reporters of providing “fake news.” Never does he feel shame.
Fred Trump found allies who helped him instill shamelessness in Donald. One was the famous pastor Norman Vincent Peale, whose book The Power of Positive Thinking sold five million copies in the early 1950s. Fred Trump loved it, took his family to Marble Collegiate Church on Sundays, and made Peale into a close pal. Gwenda Blair describes the pastor’s message:
“Believe in yourself!” Peale’s book begins. “Have faith in your abilities!” He then outlines ten rules to overcome ‘inadequacy attitudes” and “build up confidence in your powers.” Rule one: “formulate and staple indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding,” “hold this picture tenaciously,” and always refer to it “no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.”
Subsequent rules tell the reader to avoid “fear thoughts,” “never think of yourself as failing,” summon up a positive thought whenever “a negative thought concerning your personal powers comes to mind,” “depreciate every so-called obstacle,” and “make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10 per cent.”24
Another powerful figure in Donald Trump’s upbringing was an athletic instructor in his military school, Theodore Dobias, whom he described this way: “Like so many strong guys, Dobias had a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he sensed strength but you didn’t try to undermine him, he treated you like a man.”25
Frank Chamandy also attended that military school and knew Dobias, whom he described this way: “He pushed us to win. If you weren’t a winner, you were a loser, plain and simple…He was a bully. He was tough and unrelenting. Maybe he even brainwashed us. But he got results.”26
And Donald Trump is one of those results. His personal qualities are not the outcome of indifferent parenting; he underwent rigorous training to be a counterphobic, and—like it or not—this trait is key to his success as a leader. A July 2017 survey of 5,000 Americans found that a quarter of U.S. adults like the idea of having “a strong leader who does not have to bother with Congress and elections.”27 And 91 percent of Republicans say that Trump is a “strong leader.” He will never admit having lost the election to Biden, and most Republicans will agree with him, even against all evidence. That’s charisma.
According to Max Weber, charisma is
But there are charismatic politicians too, and they are not all noble: Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and Fidel Castro. Even the spiritual ones are not necessarily benign; remember Jim Jones, the charismatic preacher who persuaded 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide in Guyana.
The success of charisma depends on acceptance by the followers, and charisma is not automatically transferred to a successor. Eva Peron is still revered in Argentina, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, though her reputation globally has gone from being an icon of democratic virtue to a genocidaire. Hugo Chavez was charismatic, but his chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, is boring.
Fortunately, not all leaders are charismatic; many are bureaucratic rule-followers or traditional chieftains who are not expected to be counter-phobic megalomaniacs. Obama’s authority was based on his expertise and willingness to hear rational arguments. Trump’s authority comes from his rejection of expertise, rationality, and even empirical, factual evidence.
That’s the problem. If he were rational, his charisma would pose no particular danger. (Roosevelt and Churchill were charismatic too, but their decisions were largely rational.) But Trump and all the other populist world leaders have been getting away with issuing unreasonable orders because they are charismatic. They deny that nuclear weapons, climate change, and even Covid-19 are serious threats—and millions believe them.
People love their dictators—if they are charismatic. We may be unable to strip a leader of charisma. Those who had it may even acquire new followers after they are dead. The French still are proud of Napoleon. Russians still consider Stalin as the greatest leader in their history. Even Mongolians still name things after Genghis Khan.
Yet there are grounds for hope, both for immediate and longer-term solutions. We’ve had too much charisma. As we enter a new year, there is a chance for new, rational bureaucratic leadership. Let’s seize that opportunity by confirming the authority of science, fair journalism, and factual evidence as the basis for political decisions.
And for the long-term future of democracy, let’s remind parents to teach empathy to their children, who are the leaders of the future. Their wisdom depends on their capacity to feel remorse for their mistakes and joy for the happiness of others. Carpe diem!
Metta Spencer is editor of Peace and a retired professor of peace studies.
1 Election 2016 National Exit Poll Results and Analysis. ABC News Analysis Desk and Paul Blake, 9 November 2016, abcnews.go.com/Politics/election-2016-national-exit-poll-results-analysis/story?id=43368675
2 Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu, “It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.” Washington Post, The Monkey Cage, June 5, 2017. www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/06/05/its-time-to-bust-the-myth-most-trump-voters-were-not-working-class
3 ABC News: Exit Polls for 2020 US Presidential Election: Results & Analysis. abcnews.go.com/Elections/exit-polls-2020-us-presidential-election-results-analysis
4 Freedom House Report, freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world
5 Dave Troy, “Is Population Density the Key to Understanding voting Behavior?” davetroy.medium.com/is-population-density-the-key-to-understanding-voting-behavior-191acc302a2b Aug. 22, 2016.
6 The Economist, “America’s urban-rural partisan gap is widening,” Nov. 10, 2020, www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/11/10/americas-urban-rural-partisan-gap-is-widening
7 Chris McGreal, “‘He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans?” The Guardian, Nov 20, 2020. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/20/trump-made-a-connection-here-rural-supporters-iowa
8 Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.
9 Francis Fukuyama, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. Kindle Edition, 2018.
10 Michael Lipka and John Gramlich, “Five Facts about the abortion Debate in America,” Pew Research Center, Aug. 30, 2019. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/30/facts-about-abortion-debate-in-america
11 Baxter Oliphant, Public support for the death penalty ticks up, Pew Research, June 11, 2018
12 John Gramllich and Katherine Schaeffer, “Seven Facts about Guns in the US,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 20, 2019. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/22/facts-about-guns-in-united-states
13 Justin McCarthy, “U.S. Support for Same-Sex Marriage Matches Record High,” Gallup Poll, June 1, 2020. news.gallup.com/poll/311672/support-sex-marriage-matches-record-high.aspx
14 Steve Crabtree, “Most Amerians Say Policing Needs ‘Major Changes” Pew Research Center, July 22, 2020. news.gallup.com/poll/315962/americans-say-policing-needs-major-changes.aspx
15 Andrew Daniller, “ Two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 13, 2019. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/11/14/americans-support-marijuana-legalization
16 America’s urban-rural partisan gap is widening,” op cit.
17 Frank Bruni, “We Still Don’t Really Understand Trump—or America” New York Times, Nov. 7, 2020. www.nytimes.com/2020/11/07/opinion/sunday/trump-election-performance.html
18 Wendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West (Columbia University Press, 2019). Also see her “American Nightmare: neoliberalism, neoconservatism, and de-democratization. Political Theory”, 34/6, 690-714.
19 Dina Zisserman-Brodsky, “De-democratization and Its Concomitants in Contemporary Russia,” Paper Presented to the ASN 2017 Convention, Columbia University, NY, May 2017.
20 Mary Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020), p. 25. (Kindle Edition, 2018).
21 Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. (N.Y: Random House, 2007).
22 Barack Obama, 2006-10-18, Oprah Winfrey Show.
23 Benjamin Franklin, Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School. Carl Japikse, ed. Kindle edition, 2003.
24 Gwenda Blair, “How Norman Vincent Peale Taught Donald Trump to Worship Himself,” Politico, Oct. 15, 2015. www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/donald-trump-2016-norman-vincent-peale-213220
25 Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwarz, The Art of the Deal, Kindle Edition, 1987, Chapter 3.
26 Frank Charmandy, “The President, his mentor, and me: I know what makes Donald Trump tick,” The Globe and Mail, Oct. 16, 2020. www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-president-his-mentor-and-me-i-know-what-makes-donald-trump-tick
27 Trudy Rubin, “Rubin: 3 in 10 Americans would prefer a more authoritarian government, report says” The Mercury News, April 2, 2018. www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/02/rubin-report-finds-disturbing-figures-3-in-10-americans-would-prefer-a-more-authoritarian-government