Authoritarian, fascistic personalities in need of strict-father figure?  

“The quality of a modern movie is inversely related to the quantity of money available to make it.” (Arguably The Revenant is an exception to this rule.)

demagogueWhatever. Ellie, Leary‘s second wife, soon extended her original natural law to describe political behaviour. She says that in so-called democracies — roughly speaking, systems of government incorporating elected representatives of the population — certain invariant laws and corollaries apply:

* The effectiveness of a political message is inversely related to the complexity of its content.

* The simplicity of a political message is inversely related to its connectedness with anything important it has to say about political, social and economic realities.

* In any so-called democracy, political candidates’ chances of success are inversely related to the complexity of their messages to the electorate, and directly related to their simplicity (referring to either messages or electorate).

These rules probably don’t apply in such bastions of true democracy as the USA. Right? Yeah, well. The following articles all put some flesh on the bones of Ellie’s principles.trump dema use

One writer applies the lens of ‘authoritarianism’ to explain Donald Trump’s current political success; another chooses ‘fascism’; and yet another suggests the analytical power of metaphor, specifically the field of implication entailed in the  metaphorical source domain of the Strict Father family . Hillary dema


Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey.

I haven’t looked, but I’d be surprised if some writers aren’t also first assessing those polled according to hierarchical levels of moral judgment, à la Lawrence Kohlberg, to get a better handle on how these people variously conceive the relationship of individual to community, and proceeding thence to their relative enthusiasm for bombastic demagogues.

At basis, I reckon all of these approaches to explaining Trump’s unwonted popularity are saying much the same thing. And they suggest a consensus that Trump’s support base in the American polity isn’t about to go away. Whether or not Trump himself persists as a public figure, there’ll be other Trumps to come.


Note. Lakoff and Johnson’s masterwork is well worth the read, if you’re curious to learn more about the role of ‘source’ and ‘target domains’ in metaphor, and if you’ve got a few long weekends hanging heavy on your hands. lakoff & johnson flesh