(2019-09-05) The Trump Voters Whose Need For Chaos Obliterates Everything Else

Opinion: The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything Else

...work of Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen, both political scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark, and Kevin Arceneaux, a political scientist at Temple.

“A ‘Need for Chaos’ and the Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies.”

It argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to “chaos incitement” and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.

The rise of social media provides the public with unprecedented power

The authors describe “chaos incitement” as a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers...” Culture War, Clinger Party

Their goal is not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to “mobilize others against politicians in general.”

These disrupters do not “share rumors because they believe them to be true. For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.”

How do Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux measure this “need for chaos"? They conducted six surveys

fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.

the ‘need for chaos’ correlates positively with sympathy for Donald Trump but also — although less strongly — with sympathy for Bernie Sanders.

24 percent agreed that society should be burned to the ground; 40 percent concurred with the thought that “When it comes to our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’ ”; and 40 percent also agreed that “we cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.”

In a paper that parallels the work of Petersen and his colleagues, Rose McDermott and Peter K. Hatemi, political scientists as Brown and Penn State, argue that Trump and other right-wing populist leaders have tapped into evolutionarily based “tribal sentiments and drives.”

Trump’s expertise, in this view, lies in his ability to capitalize on the fear of chaos. “Populist movements,” McDermott and Hatemi write, “rely on inflammatory rhetoric to create a tribal ‘us versus them’ condition — this type of environment instigates neural mechanisms from the evolutionary desire to be part of the group.”

Trump had a great deal to work with: residual anxiety over the 2007-9 recession; battles over the rights of transgender people; rising levels of social and economic inequality; employment losses driven by globalization; rampant automation; the deterioration of traditional family structures; climate change and extreme weather; and the prospect that whites would no longer be the majority.


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