A new study supports what should have been absolutely obvious to anyone paying attention, that white bigotry toward other races fuels their support for authoritarianism. This is important to understand if we are to put Trump’s election and the base he has built into historical context and understand how it operates in the minds of his supporters.
Miller and Davis used information from the World Values Survey, a research project organized by a worldwide network of social scientists which polls individuals in numerous countries on a wide range of beliefs and values. Based on surveys from the United States, the authors found that white people who did not want to have immigrants or people of different races living next door to them were more likely to be supportive of authoritarianism. For instance, people who said they did not want to live next door to immigrants or to people of another race were more supportive of the idea of military rule, or of a strongman-type leader who could ignore legislatures and election results.
The World Values Survey data used is from the period 1995 to 2011 — well before Donald Trump’s 2016 run for president. It suggests, though, that Trump’s bigotry and his authoritarianism are not separate problems, but are intertwined. When Trump calls Mexicans “rapists,” and when he praises authoritarian leaders, he is appealing to the same voters.Miller and Davis’ paper quotes alt right, neo-fascist leader Richard Spencer, who in a 2013 speech declared: “We need an ethno-state so that our people can ‘come home again’… We must give up the false dreams of equality and democracy.” Ethnic cleansing is impossible as long as marginalized people have enough votes to stop it. But this roadblock disappears if you get rid of democracy. Spencer understands that white rule in the current era essentially requires totalitarianism. That’s the logic of fascism.
The author of this article, Noah Berlatsky, also accurately notes that America was, for much of its history, exactly the type of ethno-state that so many white supremacists want to return to. Black people did not have the right to vote in this country from the very beginning and they didn’t get that right in a meaningful way until the 1960s (and attempts to suppress the black vote continue to this day; indeed, they’re becoming more frequent). Women didn’t have the right to vote for the first century and a half. White men had all the power because only white men had the right to vote. That’s how you have a “democracy” that is not an actual democracy but an authoritarian white ethno-state.