November 21, 2011
Host: Chris Mooney
Our guest this week is Jonathan Weiler, a political scientist and director of global studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Weiler is co-author, with Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt, of the book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics.
In it, they describes this strange and troubling creature called an authoritarian—usually conservative, usually a religious fundamentalist, and very closed minded.
Authoritarians are identified in surveys by asking people some very simple questions about the qualities that children should have: Whether they should be "independent," for instance, rather than showing respect for their elders. (See here.)
Based on this measure, Weiler and Hetherington show not only that the U.S. is full of authoritarians—but also how people with this psychological profile are driving our political polarization, as well as the divide over factual reality in the U.S
Weiler also writes regularly for the Huffington Post.