Karen Stenner is a political psychologist who predicted the rise of a Trump figure back when the idea brought ridicule.

She understands how to neutralize the dangers posed by authoritarians.


To give you the authoritarian dynamic in a nutshell:

A certain segment of the population has an authoritarian (anti-democratic) personality. They'll never feel comfortable in a liberal democracy.

By liberal democracy, I mean ⤵️

As liberal democracy expands, those with an authoritarian personality push back. This creates an endless dynamic.

I've phrased it this way: Progressives push forward; reactionaries push back. It's an endless cycle.

. @karen_stenner explains the psychology of those who keep pushing back.

She says things people don't like to hear. She says that there are also authoritarians on the left side of the spectrum. She says that people are born with personality these personality traits.

I'm not a psychologist, but from studying history I've come to the same conclusions.

People opposed to democracy have always been with us. They justified slavery. They took land from Native people. They passed Jim Crow laws.

To see the modern GOP as something that suddenly sprang into existence over the past 40 or 50 years is to ignore our history.

The impulse to concentrate power into the hands of a few people has deep roots in American history.

Since I veered into history, I'll add that I discovered
@HC_Richardson several years ago while I was researching my Making of America series. She wrote a book called To Make Men Free, about the history of the Republican Party.

She lays out our history of oligarchy.

She says we've had two oligarchies (lots of power concentrated in the hands of a few people.) This first was the plantation system. The second was the age of robber barons. And since Reagan, we've been tipping into a third.

The Civil War got us out of the first . . .

. . . but led us directly into the second. Once the Republicans got the power from the plantation owners, they built the infrastructure industry needs and we had a business boom.

The New Deal got us out of our second oligarchy.

The New Deal taught us that legislation backed by a majority of voters can turn things around fast.

By fast, by the way, I don't mean within 90 days. I mean a few years-- if pro-democracy voters keep turning out in large numbers.

Also adding that FDR had lots of setbacks and frustration, and he was limited in what he could do.

For one thing, the reactionary Supreme Court kept overturning his legislation. That took years to overcome.

But the change from the 1920s to the 1950s and 1960s is stunning.

Among other things, I appreciate that she offers solutions and ideas.
I believe this is partly because she has done the actual research, which gives her more insight into the dynamic.


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More from @Teri_Kanefield

26 Mar
When they put up a barrier, we figure out a way around it.

GOP demographics are shrinking. Their policies are unpopular. They know they are on a collision course with time.

This latest piece of legislation has the potential of backfiring. Remember the Wisconsin primaries?

The Wisconsin Republicans shamelessly tried brazen voter suppression tactics. But you know what? People don't like it when they think someone is trying to make it hard for them to vote.

Wisconsin has @benwikler
Georgia has @staceyabrams

Every election matters, at every level.

What the Republicans always understood better than the Democrats was that politics (and control) is local.

That's why they were amazed when Republican legislatures couldn't overturn state election results.

Read 5 tweets
20 Mar
Hi, @JohnCollins_KP

I can answer!🙋‍♀️

The modern Republican Party + Putin = True Love because have common goals.

For decades now, Russia has been “beckoning” to America’s far right wing, presenting Russia as the savior of white majority rule. (Timothy Snyder’s word)

2/ This includes Russians infiltrating the NRA and helping radicalize the NRA as a right wing extremist group—but that’s for another post.

The GOP Russia love affair has been evident for some time.
3/ Remember when Tucker Carlson said the U.S. should “rethink America’s alliances.”

And when Sen. Rand Paul went to Moscow to “open lines of communication“? abcnews.go.com/International/…
And when Guiliani attended a pro-Russia conference? thinkprogress.org/why-is-rudy-gi…
Read 12 tweets
18 Mar
Challenging Biden to a debate is a clever way to imply that there is room to debate.

"Debate" assumes a shared set of facts. Then you debate the implications.

This⤵️ is a tactic for elevating and giving credence to a falsehood.
abcn.ws/3qX80Cl via @ABC

This tactic is extremely effective. What Russian propaganda networks do is claim to air "all sides." They publish the truth as one of many possible theories, and then crowd the airwaves with so much "noise" that nobody can figure out what's true and what isn't.

The American right wing does this by talking about their free speech right to promulgate lies. They claim that universities prohibit free speech by not allowing ALL ideas to be presented.

They want to put lies along side truth on the same stage.

Read 4 tweets
17 Mar
It’s not possible to find common ground with people who deliberately lie for political advantage. How do you meet them halfway?

Any lies undermine democracy.

The parties are no longer liberal v. conservative.

They are pro- and anti-democracy.
You fight disinformation the same way you strengthen democracy. I'll put a link in the next tweet.

This makes sense because rule of law (the authority underlying democracy) requires truth and shared facts.

Forms of government other than democracy depend on lies and myth ("The Great Leader Knows All" or "The king was chosen by the gods").

Here's how to strengthen democracy: terikanefield-blog.com/things-to-do/
Read 4 tweets
15 Mar
It's not a coincidence that the same people who spread disinformation are not interested in funding public schools.

While doing research for my book on disinformation, I learned about Kari Kivinen, a headteacher in Finland, who explained how Finland combats disinformation.


In math, they teach students how easy it is to lie with statistics.

In art, students learn how an image’s meaning can be manipulated.

In history, they analyze notable propaganda campaigns.

Language teachers show how words can be used to confuse, mislead, and deceive.

In primary schools, they use fairytales.

"Take the wily fox who always cheats other animals with his sly words. That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?"

Read 7 tweets
12 Mar
Enough of the Reagan legacy that government is the problem.

The government is us and it's here for us.

"Smaller government" just means let greedy people (1) grab resources (2) privatize government functions and (3) cheat.

Alexander Hamilton understood that if the government does good things for people, they will come to have confidence in the government, and this will give the nation stability.

It's in one of the Federalist Papers. I quoted it in my book. I'm not at my desk or I'd give the #.
Read 4 tweets

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