There are Americans all over South America. Not too many (how many would that be?) and definitely Americans of the right kind. You see them in the departure lounges, at the carousels, at breakfast, climbing glaciers and frolicking in the pool. You can hear them too, and there’s one word on their lips. It’s not ‘Hillary’, nor is it ‘Sanders’. It’s ‘Trump’, and you hear it before you even ask them the obvious question. In every case, so far, it’s pronounced with a snarl of disbelief, or anger. Mitch, from Colorado, holidaying in Patagonia, added some colour to the name – ‘****ing Trump’.
I haven’t yet met a single American supporter of Donald Trump (nor any other supporter, for that matter), either in Europe or in South America. They’re all appalled, and they’re all afraid. I ask them, ‘Is it possible that Donald Trump might be elected President?’ and none is sure that it’s impossible. None of them would put money on his defeat.
He’s likened by some to one of those fairground snake-oil salesmen, of the kind you might find in Mark Twain. He’s a buffoon, a charlatan, but everyone agrees that he’s dangerous.
All in all, I’d still rather have this….
So, if they’re not the Americans abroad whom I’ve seen and talked to in Europe and South America, who are Donald Trump’s supporters?
They’re often depicted by the media as the angry and disaffected, whom the arrogant political establishment doesn’t understand, or they’re victims of inequality, or globalisation. But, on CNN, this morning I saw an interview with Jonathan Weiler, who, together with Marc Hetherington, in 2009, published Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. Jonathan Weiler made the point that the most accurate predictor, to date, of who might be attracted by politicians of the Trump variety, has nothing to do with race, or gender, or income, or ‘hand’ size, but, rather, attitudes to parenting, an indicator of authoritarianism in the broadest sense of valuing order and authority over independence and pluralism.
What characteristics do you value in children?
- independence or respect for their elders;
- curiosity or good manners;
- self-reliance or obedience;
- being considerate or being well-behaved?
If you prefer the second characteristic in every case, then you’re more likely to be a Trump supporter. I prefer the first, in all four cases, though, having no children, I’m not speaking from experience. And I’m for Hillary. She’s far from perfect, but she’s the best candidate in the circumstances.