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Trump: How will it end?

Authoritarian dreams of global domination. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Salon has an excellent interview today with George Conway, who formerly was a Republican and a Justice Department lawyer. Conway is asked all the right questions. Conway is well positioned to be taken seriously. His answers, I believe, are spot on. Everyone should read this article, but it boils down to this: Yes, Trump is going to be indicted and convicted. But Trump also is going to try to do as much damage to the country as possible as he goes down, just as he did when he was voted out of the White House:

Trump ‘will be convicted of multiple felonies’: George Conway on the bumpy road ahead
Longtime GOP lawyer says Trump won’t take a deal and will call for MAGA violence — but his time is almost up

But even with Trump ruined and silenced, we still will be stuck with the Republican Party. Conway says:

“Trump is also going to cause damage to the Republican Party. The party is finally going to realize that Trump will take them down with him. It is going to be very ugly all around. In the end, though, it will get better. Once Trump is dealt with, there’s the other problem that must be confronted: Trump let all the termites into the basement of the house. The Big Lie and the election deniers and all the assorted lunatics who have taken up residence in the Republican Party and are now its base must be pushed out.”

Conway wisely deflects some of the deeper questions on the grounds that he is not a psychologist. I’m not a psychologist either, but I’m going to stick my neck out.

I think that one of the things that decent and reasonable people must learn, if the United States ever returns to stability and governability, is that about a third of the population are authoritarians, and that authoritarians always damage the social fabric. In more stable times, these people go about their sorry little lives, unorganized yet always doing the damage they always do. But that damage occurs in much smaller spheres — families, communities, and workplaces. But if an uber-authoritarian with a big megaphone comes along with the right lies and stirs up enough rage, then an entire country can find itself in danger. There are only two requirements: A total madman such as Donald Trump, and a megaphone to retail the lies and rage, which the right-wing media and social media have eagerly supplied to Trump and Trumpism.

It is considered shrill and rude to say it, but I believe that it has to be said. That is that the line between authoritarian and “conservative” is thin and vague. The difference is that conservatives retain their decency and moral sanity. Authoritarians do not. George Conway is a conservative, but he is not an authoritarian. Hence Conway eventually saw through Trump and felt shame for having been deceived. The great danger to democracy occurs when authoritarians and conservatives vote the same way. Combined, they come to more than 50 percent, though probably only barely more than 50 percent. It’s probably reasonable to say that about 30 percent of the population are hopeless authoritarians, and about 20 percent are conservatives who, though regressive, racist, and easily deceived, still have a grip on decency and moral sanity.

Jonathan Haidt, who is a psychologist, would have us believe that conservatives and authoritarians are just as psychologically and morally competetent as the rest of us, but that they just have different “moral foundations.” But love for authority, and the hatred of out-groups, are sorry, and dangerous, moral foundations. As I said, I’m not a psychologist, but I believe that Jonathan Haidt is dangerously wrong and has done great harm by encouraging blindness to the actual nature of authoritarianism. Conservatives teeter between clarity and delusion, as Conway says in the interview when he acknowledges his shame for voting for Trump in 2016 and for not seeing sooner what Trump really is. But authoritarians are not capable of that kind of insight, and they’re not going to change. That’s where we are today: Authoritarians quickly got on board with Trump. The Republican Party brought the easily deceived conservatives on board. Combined, they have enough power to threaten democracy and the rule of law, the barriers that stand in the way of their dream of total authority over the rest of us.

The Republican Party should have kept Trump from running for president back in 2015. One of the purposes of political parties is to screen candidates, keep out the crazies, and field candidates who will promote the party’s principles. But the Republican Party, having abandoned its principles to decay into a Trump cult, has failed again and again to do its job. My guess is that Republicans believe that sticking with Trump is their only hope for the 2022 mid-terms. But if the Republican Party retains any grip on political sanity, it will pivot away from Trump after November 8 and start to cut Trump loose, knowing that Trump is going down and that Trump as a strategy for 2024 would be a recipe for the biggest landslide against Republicans in history. Then the question will be: Will the Republican Party start to recover its political and moral sanity? Or will it find another Trump to ride all the way to hell?


  1. Dan wrote:

    How Trump voters could not see him for what he really was in 2016 shows their moral turpitude was embedded in them as a feature of their character and not just their political ideology. Trump had no policy positions that weren’t racist, isolationist, or outright lies. He didn’t stand for anything, and the pictures of people at his rallies flipping off cameras and starting fights should’ve been a clear sign to anyone with a conscience of what he stood for, but they’re still sycophants for him and still castigate Biden for economic problems that only exist because of policies that were implemented well before he took office. Hell, even the January 6th debacle is something they can’t acknowledge as a riot without also saying that Black Lives Matter actually burned down a police station. Apples and oranges. They’re just sad, desperately clinging onto grudges against ideas they can’t control and would have no impact on their daily lives.

    Monday, October 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Dan: I very much agree… Thank you…

    Monday, October 3, 2022 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  3. Henry Sandigo wrote:
    Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  4. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    Thank you!

    Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  5. James Michael Gregg wrote:

    I would argue that the Republican Party has been stymied by authoritarianism and Machiavellian tendencies since the days of Richard Nixon. Not only are they blind to their ideological yearning for power and control, they have always been delusional about what constitutes democracy. In their minds, democracy is merely a means to an end; that is, democratic behaviors such as voting are not seen as necessary. Rather, democratic behaviors like voting are only necessary insofar as they allow their own interests to prevail at the expense of the common good. Perhaps 50 or so years ago there was a slight majority of Republicans who acted in good faith. However, as the decades went by, their tolerance for and ability to act in good faith has drastically eroded. If I had to give an estimate, I would say that those who identify as Republicans today are 95% authoritarians. There are only a very small percentage of Republicans today that actually are just conservatives who are interested in acting in good faith. Trump has only given permission for the authoritarian nature of Republicans to be unveiled and espoused so flagrantly in our culture nowadays. In other words, Republicans have always secretly been authoritarian and Machiavellian. But they hid it in the past. Now, they have no qualms of showing their true colors for the world to see due to their belief that they are on the side of Good, the side of God, the side of righteousness. But they are delusional of course. One of the first things I learned as a psychologist about working with delusional people is it is a fool’s errand to try to convince them that their delusions are not based in reality. Once you try to do that with them, suddenly you are seen as part of the conspiracy against them. And their delusions will become even more entrenched, and more extreme. Unfortunately, if the Democrats do not win a majority in Congress this year, then I am afraid we will end up losing too much control politically that we will be doomed into a downward spiral that will lead to either some type of autocracy, fascism or dictatorship. Or all of the above.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2022 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  6. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    I only pray I am alive when that idiot is incarcerated in a federal penitentiary. Thank you as always for your writings and insight

    Friday, October 14, 2022 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

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