Trump, Authority, Purity, and Social Dominance Orientation

The seeming unstoppable support for Donald Trump has caused quite a bit of head scratching among political pundits. It seems like the only thing that Democratic and Republican pundits agreed on was that Donald Trump would self-destruct sooner or later. And while this is still a very valid possibility, the fact that he has remained the Republican frontrunner for this length of time makes me interested in just what type of supporter is drawn to him.

His supporters don’t seem to be the traditional conservative supporters, even though many of them still use ‘conservative’ as their identifier. Instead, they seem to be drawn to authority and purity instead of conservative ideas or ideals.

Let’s take a look at his predisposition to discuss purity issues.

Purity can be thought of as the things that don’t cause disgust, and we all know what disgusts Donald Trump. He seems to be particularly disgusted by the way that a woman’s body functions. The simple thought of a woman urinating is enough to send him into fits of disgust on Twitter. I can only imagine what other hygiene related bodily functions would do. While it might not be explicitly accurate, you could be forgiven for believing that Donald Trump is disgusted by any bodily function that doesn’t originate with a man.

Authority is another thing that Donald Trump seems to be hammering. He is claiming authority over treaties, borders, economies, war, and other countries’ natural resources. He will destroy ISIS and take their oil. He will build border walls and have other countries pay for it. He will destroy economies in China and have Chinese companies scurrying to bring their production to the American people (apparently through the portcullis’ that will be built into the walls). Treaties with other countries can be created or destroyed with no more effort that the wave of his hand. And finally, ISIS will be able to be identified without mistaking them for their non-ISIS neighbors, destroyed, and their oil will be taken for the good of the United States.

I’ll admit that it is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that there are people that would espouse these ideals in this day and age. I had believed that the age of ignorance and isolation was far behind us. It is especially difficult for me to believe that there are enough people in the United States that think like that to actually create a viable political party. Many Republicans, while maintaining their dedication to traditional conservative ideals, are horrified at the bigotry and crassness that is spewing forth from this nascent movement. Yet this movement just might have some staying power.

An editorial in the New York Times by Thomas B. Edsall states:

In our conversation, [Jim] Sidanius [a professor of sociology at Harvard and one of the originators, in the 1990s, of the concept of social dominance orientation] posed a key question concerning Trump: Does he represent a growing constituency on the right that will become increasingly powerful or will the Trump phenomenon eventually dissipate?

The truth is that Trump has already left an indelible imprint on the political system. He has inflicted tremendous damage on the Republican establishment, as he hoped he would, but he has done much more. By setting a populist agenda that appeals to millions of Republicans and to substantial numbers of Democrats and independents as well, Trump has opened the door to a reshaping of the traditional two-party coalitions.

And I would have to agree. Whether Donald Trump flames out or not is almost irrelevant at this point. He has demonstrated that there are enough people that follow a personality, even an atrocious personality like Donald Trump, that major changes are going to be coming to the way voters are pandered to.


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I am a writer of words, a thinker of thoughts, a changer of genders, and a queerer of life. I am an antagonist of the ordinary; and while I do tolerate it, I also look at it with contempt.

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