This testing reveals, in varying degrees, 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; they are highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, and/or homophobic), 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.
They may or may not be religious, but usually they are both political and economic conservatives and/or Republicans.
In turn, recurring traits that, in varying degrees, are found in authoritarian followers—a group that includes both men and women—are as follows: 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.
He goes on to identify authoritarian leaders who demonstrate both traits. These people are called Double-High Authoritarians.
Double Highs are endowed with a host of negative personality traits, and, it seems such traits, in Double Highs, are always present in excess. For example, Double Highs are not merely prejudiced, they are doubly so. Their orders are to be followed, but not by them. They are not merely dogmatic, but defiantly insistent upon their dogmas. They are not only manipulative of others, but talented at their manipulation. As you go through various authoritarian traits, if you view the trait in its more extreme form, then you are usually talking about a trait that is likely to be possessed by a Double High authoritarian.
For Dean, Nixon remains the prototype for the Double-High Authoritarian. Dean served in the Nixon White House and has had ample exposure to this kind of leadership.
So what evaluation does Dean make of our beloved Governor Walker? It’s not a pretty picture, Wisconsin. Let’s just say he doesn’t hold out much hope for Governor Walker’s leadership (in fact he titled his article Good Luck Wisconsin, You’ve Got A Classic Authoritarian Governor)
I have merely summarized, in the broadest of terms, the work of social science in exploring the authoritarian disposition at work in government and politics. Similarly, 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).
Democracy and democratic institutions do not function well with dogmatic, unbending authoritarian leaders. Authoritarians are great as dictators, and even at times benevolent. They are often outstanding at running businesses, and when serving as high-ranking officers in the military, not to mention law enforcement. But they are failures as presidents and governors, and as Bob Altemeyer’s work has shown, they can be dangerous to democracy.
Scott Walker is, temperamentally unsuited to serve as an executive in any capacity at any level of government. As a Double-High Authoritarian, he is incapable of effective, collaborative leadership. His failures in Milwaukee County as County Executive and now his failures as Governor should give all voters pause before sending him back to the Governor’s Mansion.
Recall and Reboot, Wisconsin! Time to get it right this time.