Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Walker Authority up close!!!

Thanks to a nice piece at MAL Contends, I was able to finish reading John Dean's great analysis of Scott Walker's authoritarian behavior, and the frightening implications of putting even more power into this guys hands. I forgot all about it back in March, 2012.

Below, I've gathered what I thought were the essential points of Dean's scorching but fair research into what I've called the Walker Authority. Interestingly, Dean assumed other "social scientists or political psychologists in Wisconsin" would do what he did, and tip voters off to the potential consequences of putting Walker power again. Well, that didn't happen thanks to political pressure (censorship) on our state university. This was written before the recall election for Verdict/Justia.com:
John Dean: My focus here is on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who strikes some who have written to me as a distinctively prototypical authoritarian politician; what social science has labeled as a “double high” authoritarian; and the type of person which I described in my book as a conservative without conscience.

They occasionally found persons who garnered high scores for their cold, calculating dominance, yet also gained high scores on the tests for submissive followers … these Double Highs relate to the questions regarding submission not by considering how they themselves submit to others, but rather how others submit to them.  They simply see the world as a place where they are always in charge.

Domination: Authoritarian leaders seek to control others; in short, they are social dominators. This is the story of Scott Walker’s life. At Marquette, he was elected to the student senate, and twice sought but failed to get elected president of the student body.  He ran for the Wisconsin State Assembly the same year that he lost his bid to be student president at Marquette, losing the Assembly race as well. Since then, Walker has never stopped running.  In 1993, he was elected to the State Assembly … In 2002, he sought the post of Milwaukee County Executive, and he held that post until he was elected Governor in 2010.  This is the behavior, writ large, of a dominator.

Opposition To Equality: There are many examples of Walker’s harsh and uncaring treatment of those whom he does not believe to be entitled to equality.  None is more glaring than his intolerance of gays and lesbians … as Governor, he has worked to end Wisconsin’s recognition of the rights of same-sex couples. He fired the law firm defending the state’s domestic-partnership law.  And he appointed a woman to the state’s Labor and Industry Review Commission who believes that gays can be harassed in the workplace.

Desirous Of Personal Power: As governor, Walker sought to remove civil service jobs, in order to make them political appointments, and thus subject to his control.  Most strikingly, he has sought to undercut the public-employee unions so that he would not have to deal with them, thus increasing his power. Often overlooked is the power grab to fill three dozen civil-service jobs with political appointees.  For instance, the “budget repair bill” politicized and placed under Walker’s control functions like open-records requests, the selection of general counsels for key agencies, and the selection of communications spokespeople in key departments.  He has increased his personal power over some fifteen state agencies, and I suspect that he is just getting started. Walker’s push to get Act 10 passed into law was done in about as authoritarian a fashion as you will ever see, outside of a dictatorship.

Amorality: It is found in his history of ethics violations and the record of his lying … ethics problems go back to his Marquette University days, when the college newspaper called him “unfit” for student office. Later, in the Assembly (in 2005), Walker would earn the distinction of receiving the second-highest fine for an ethics violation in Wisconsin history.  His lying is notorious. Politifacts Wisconsin finds Walker to be an accomplished falsifier. I watched a video of a Walker speech at the Goldwater Institute.  He’s slick: Fast-talking, confident, and dishonest—I watched him distort facts with which I was familiar.  He spoke in mostly half-truths.

Submissive To Authority: While Scott Walker plays by the rules of the authorities he accepts, because he is a dominator.

Aggressiveness On Behalf Of Authority:  The aggression in authoritarian followers is largely fueled by fear, but it is also emboldened by the abundance of self-righteousness that such people possess. As a member of the Wisconsin Assembly, in 1996 Walker was the moving force behind the building of a 500-bed “Supermax” prison, which he claimed worked better than normal facilities; others had doubts.  Also, when state officials sought a 200-bed unit, Walker insisted on more than doubling the request.

Another instance … can be found in an example from 1997, when Walker pushed legislation that eliminated all parole, while increasing maximum criminal sentences by fifty percent.  Walker also pushed for draconian legislation that would send juvenile offenders to adult prisons at age 15, although his colleagues in the Assembly rejected this excessively harsh approach. These, too, are examples of classic authoritarian behavior at work.

Wisconsin’s Double High Authoritarian Governor: To me, it is clear that Wisconsin has a double high authoritarian governor, a conservative without conscience.  If I lived in Wisconsin, I would be uncomfortable with this man, whom I find more Nixonian than even Richard Nixon himself … have many friends who fall into this group, who are wonderful people.  But none of my double high authoritarian friends are suited to serve as President of the United States, or as governor of any state … they are failures as presidents and governors, and as Bob Altemeyer’s work has shown, they can be dangerous to democracy.

Hopefully, one or more social scientists or political psychologists in Wisconsin, where there are many, will step forward and tell the people of Wisconsin more about what they have on their hands, with Scott Walker as their governor. Altemeyer estimates that about twenty-five percent of the population has, in varying degrees, the disposition to follow a double high authoritarian, many blindly or simply because it assuages their fears.  And, of course, these are aggressive followers who can attract others who are unaware of the nature of the person they are electing, thus enabling an authoritarian leader like Walker to gain ever-growing control. Good luck, Wisconsin.

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