So this article written by John Dean, who has book after book on the subject of authoritarianism, is just too good not to pass along to you. I found out about it when John Nichols mentioned the story. Edited here, I hope a few on the fence voters' eyes are opened. It's long, but fascinating stuff about Walker.
John Dean-April 6, 2012: 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.
That social dominators (authoritarian leaders) have the following recurring traits: They’re typically men; they are dominating; they oppose equality; they are desirous of personal power; they are amoral, intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, and dishonest; they will cheat to win; mean-spirited, militant, and nationalistic; they tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of “suckers,” and specialize in creating false images to sell themselves.
Here’s a description of “Stand with Walker” followers:
Authoritarian followers: They are submissive to authority but aggressive on that authority’s behalf. They are conventional and highly religious, with moderate to little education. They trust untrustworthy authorities, exhibit prejudice (particularly against homosexuals, women and followers of religions other than their own), and are mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, and uncritical toward chosen authority. Moreover, they are hypocritical, inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, and moralistic. They are strict disciplinarians, and are severely punitive; they demand loyalty and return it; they exhibit little self-awareness, and they, too, are usually political and economic conservatives and/or Republicans.
There is another type of authoritarian … Social scientists labeled these people “Double Highs.” They simply see the world as a place where they are always in charge. I worked for and with a number of Double Highs at the Nixon White House, from the president on down through his senior staff. But based on what I found, there is little doubt in my mind that Scott Walker is a classic authoritarian.
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.
One attorney familiar with Walker’s thinking states, “Everything that Governor Walker is doing is ideological; I don’t see that his administration has any particular respect for the law per se.”
Desirous Of Personal Power. Scott Walker has been seeking personal power his entire life, and has never stopped reaching for it. By age 7, Walker had formed a “Jesus USA” club, which was a mix of his father’s Baptist ministry and his attraction to patriotism. By age 8, he had undertaken a door-to-door fundraising campaign to take charge of purchasing a flag for the village hall of his small Iowa town. 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.
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. He has increased his personal power over some fifteen state agencies … move to break public employee unions is his most notorious personal power play. Walker’s push … was done in about as authoritarian a fashion as you will ever see, outside of a dictatorship. Part of Act 10 has already been struck down by a federal judge.
Walker’s amorality is conspicuous. It is found in his history of ethics violations and the record of his lying … 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. With respect to 44 statements that Politifacts examined, Walker was found to have been truthful only on six occasions. The fact that 38 statements were pants-on-fire false, false, mostly false, or half-truths is stark evidence of amorality.
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. And indeed, the most striking … his views on crime and punishment. 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 of Walker’s punitive aggressiveness 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.
Scott Walker is Mr. Conventional. He has long been an active member of a fundamentalist church. He wears conservative, off-the-rack clothing. His hair is always closely trimmed, and his manner polite and pleasant. (I cannot find a single radical right-wing position that Walker rejects.)
I have only sketched in digest terms the reporting I found on Scott Walker’s political career. 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 (the authoritarian leader with whom I was, and am, so very familiar).
Please understand that these authoritarian leaders and their followers are not necessarily bad people. To the contrary, I 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 governor of any state … Democracy and democratic institutions do not function well with dogmatic, unbending authoritarian leaders … 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. The June 5, 2012 election is a true opportunity to discourage another leader who is a conservative without conscience. 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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