Tag Archives: Trump

Reflections on a Week Away From Politics

I was at my wit’s end.

Politics had taken over my life. The endless barrage of news out of the Trump Presidency had ratcheted up my hyper-vigilance to 11. It was at this point that I came across this Atlantic article, which felt like it was describing my own struggles, translated to a work environment:

Duggan says that managers should help their employees focus on work, and that while support groups or other interventions sound good, it might be a further distraction. “The problem with that is you do a debrief about the election, then you have to do a debrief at the inauguration, then you have to do a debrief about the first week, the second week, and it doesn’t stop.”

Many of us were hoping that the constant campaign ruckus would die down after the election. Heck, people were already sick of the general election back in July! And the same political climate has continued, with no end in sight. Even some of the same features are back: On FiveThirtyEight, instead of tracking the current election polling average, you can now track Trump’s approval ratings average!

Different colors, same feels.

Different colors, same feels.

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Authority, Trump, and Me

Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination tonight, proclaiming as usual that he alone is the solution to America’s ills. For those who have been paying attention to his campaign (and who hasn’t?), that can be a lot to take in, even if we’ve known it would happen for months. How did we get here again?

Back in the early days of the Republican presidential primary, after the primaries had started but before it was all clearly decided, journalists struggled to make sense of what Donald Trump’s “consituency” consisted of. The strongest correlate they were able to find was how these voters responded to authority. Basically, voters with a psychological predisposition to authoritarianism — measured (perhaps surprisingly) by attitudes on children’s obedience to parents — were much more likely to express support for Trump in the primary, beating out other correlates like a high school education level.

I too struggled for months to understand the appeal of Trump when no one I knew, even back in conservative parts of Colorado, supported him. But reflecting recently, I’ve been surprised to discover that when it comes to authoritarianism, I personally share that same disposition. I seem to naturally want to follow a strong man who seems to have all of the answers. But I’ve also been blessed with a range of experiences with this sort of authority that has taught me several important lessons that I’d like to share.

Just to be clear, I can’t really imagine myself supporting Trump. I also probably wouldn’t qualify as an authoritarian based on the four standard questions about parenting: I’d have noticed the connection and modulated my answers accordingly. But I do seem to have followed some leaders who seemed to have all of the answers, like many have concluded Trump does.

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