Dean says that 30% of Americans have a "personality trait" that some social psychologist he's talked to labels "authoritarianism," and that's now "the dominant force" driving Republican politics, which is why he and his friends — Dean lives in Beverly Hills — aren't Republicans anymore and also why Republicans are stuck with only 30% of the electorate. But Dean wonders "if the authoritarian people will ever get up to the 51 percent number because that would make a very different United States."
Unsuprisingly, Fanlund doesn't follow up with any questions about whether authoritarianism ever manifests itself in Democratic Party politics or whether some people with the authoritarian personality trait ever feel drawn into the hopes and dreams of left-liberal projects.
Fanlund's next question is a model of fawning and imprecision, the very opposite of what I'd want from a journalist: "You’ve done so much scholarship and have your first-hand experience. What do you think the future holds?"
Dean has just about nothing to say, so Fanlund proceeds to the topic of Wisconsin: "Last year I wrote about your assessment of Scott Walker, our governor, as a classic authoritarian personality." How did I miss that analysis? Dean says Walker is "so strikingly Nixonian that I cannot (turn away) out of fascination."
It’s kind of like the moth to the candle, I keep an eye on him. And I am likely to see pigs flying before he’s president.So Walker is like Nixon, but somehow it's impossible for him to become President. Dean's not making a whole lot of sense in this phone interview, and Fanlund prompts him again: "Because of how Walker’s personality would play out with a national electorate?"
Dean picks up the cue:
Exactly. The country is not ready for him unless he skews far to the middle from where he is....Isn't that easier than pigs flying? Dean blathers about moderation, and Fanlund offers some more help: "What struck us in Wisconsin, as much as anything, is how Walker, unlike governors I’ve known for three decades, made it clear from the start that he wasn’t interested in representing all of us, only those who elected him. Are you surprised?"
This is a telephone interview, and Dean is phoning it in. From Beverly Hills. And guess what? He is surprised. Frankly, he's surprised, but maybe he shouldn't be so surprised, because, after all, Joe McCarthy... blah blah... "maybe there are still people that kind of politics appeals to".... you know, the kind of people with that authoritarianism personality trait. Maybe they're still around out there somewhere in Wisconsin. Not Madison, of course, where it's worth flying in from Beverly Hills to speak to people who can't possibly be authoritarian.