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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
2:06p - Quick thought on my lunch break...
Thanks to Bob Altemeyer's excellent The Authoritarians, I now know that sociologists believe they have found a strong correlation between scoring highly on both of two quantifiable personality measures (right-wing* authoritarian follower traits and social dominance orientation) and being a power-hungry, unscrupulous, domineering bastard.

Political candidates should be given tests to detect authoritarian follower traits and level of social dominance orientation. The results should be published. No screening or anything, we don't want to start discriminating against personality types. But...

...the following ad should be all over the country during elections:

"We all want leaders we can trust. That's why we look at more than just what the candidates say: we look at their lives, their records, and their finances, so we know whether we can trust what they say.

"Well... researchers have found that people who test highly in social dominance and authoritarianism are more likely to seek power, more likely to lie to their constituents, and more likely to abuse their position. Some of history's worst tragedies have been caused by people who, researchers believe, were authoritarian social dominators.

"Shouldn't you find out where your candidates stand?"

*This has very little to do with the traditional American right-left distinction. Rather, it's to do with the way power and authority are constructed, so that Hitler (who would be way, way out on the extreme right of the American system) and Stalin (who would be way, way out on the extreme left of the American system) are both considered "right-wing" authoritarians.

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10:08p - Two Kinds of Voters
Increasingly it seems like voters can be split up into two camps: those who'll vote for the sort of person who names her kids things like "Trig" and "Piper", and those who won't.

It's a flippant way of putting it, but it's basically true: those who want someone average, someone like the people they know, and those who think a leader ought to be a little smarter, a little better than the rest of us.

The first kind of voter trusts someone based on how they appear. They don't care that Wasilla made rape victims pay for their own rape kits under Palin, or that McCain voted against a law that would require the states to pay for rape kits, just as they do for DNA testing and fingerprinting in any other crime. They don't care that McCain released an ad attacking Obama for supporting teaching kindergarteners the difference between "good touch" and "bad touch" (the entirety of the "comprehensive" sex-ed program for primary school).

No, McCain, and especially Palin, act like the good folks they know, so they must be trustworthy. And they say they're on the side of law and order and family, so it must be true, no matter how they act to the contrary. After all, nobody could pretend to be "good folks", right? It's not like we've spent the last eight years under a President who got into office on the strength of his ability to act like good folks, and then proceeded to completely screw over the country in every way imaginable by an incredible combination of bungling and corruption.

No, we know that McCain and Palin can be trusted to run the country no matter what they do, because they told us so. And we know that Obama is an evil schemer, because the people who say one thing and do another told us so.

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