John Dean (yes, that John Dean) wrote this column three years ago:
Nonetheless, Walker’s amorality is conspicuous. It is found in his history of ethics violations and the record of his lying. A lengthy article could (and should) be written about both, but suffice it here to note that his ethics problems go back to his Marquette University days, when the college newspaper called him “unfit” for student office.
Later, in the Assembly (in 2005), Walker would earn the distinction of receiving the second-highest fine for an ethics violation in Wisconsin history. His lying is notorious. Politifacts Wisconsin (which I am told is more reliable than most of these sites) finds Walker to be an accomplished falsifier. With respect to 44 statements that Politifacts examined, Walker was found to have been truthful only on six occasions. The fact that 38 statements were pants-on-fire false, false, mostly false, or half-truths is stark evidence of amorality.
I watched a video of a Walker speech at the Goldwater Institute. He’s slick: Fast-talking, confident, and dishonest—I watched him distort facts with which I was familiar. He spoke in mostly half-truths, and certainly not with the kind of candor that the late Senator Goldwater expected from political figures.
Clearly, Walker has all the traits of a social dominator and authoritarian leader. More strikingly, it is also clear that he is, in fact, what social scientists term a “double high authoritarian.”
Scott Walker Also Has Traits of Authoritarian Followers
As I mentioned in Part One in this series of columns, to fit the definition of a double high authoritarian, a person must score highly as both a dominator/leader, and ironically, also as an authoritarian follower (because such people see themselves running the world, and believe that others should always follow leaders, like themselves).
Again, I listed all the traits of those who follow authoritarian leaders in that prior column. The key and defining characteristics of such people are (1) their willingness to submit to established authority, (2) their aggressiveness on behalf of that authority, and (3) their conventionality. Scott Walker has long shown that he possesses these traits, conspicuously so, and thus he would likely score high on such a test.
(1) Submissive To Authority. Authority figures are parents (throughout childhood); religious officials; government officials such as police officers, judges, and government leaders; and employers—to list a few of the more common such positions. Authoritarian followers easily submit to such figures –which is not to say that they will submit to any authority, but rather only those they consider to be good and compatible with their own worldviews. News accounts reveal that Scott Walker was a “good boy” growing up. Clearly, he worked to please his parents, and his Boy Scout and Eagle Scout superiors, and he accepted the authority of his church elders. Since becoming involved in politics, he has accepted the leaders of the Republican Party, particularly those with the most right-wing of views, as he has worked his way up through the ranks. While Scott Walker plays by the rules of the authorities he accepts, because he is a dominator, it is not surprising that his resume shows that he has constantly sought to become an authority himself.
(2) Aggressiveness On Behalf Of Authority. The aggression in authoritarian followers is largely fueled by fear, but it is also emboldened by the abundance of self-righteousness that such people possess.
Authoritarian aggressiveness is often revealed by efforts to control others, with a recurring example the decision to be an overly strict parent. While little has been written about Walker’s relationship with his two sons, from watching videos of the Walker family, it appears to me that these are very obedient boys who dare not tangle with their authoritarian father.
Another classic example of authoritarian aggressiveness is the public official who is always calling for greater punishment for perceived and real criminals. And indeed, the most striking and telling example of Walker’s aggressiveness on behalf of radical right wing Republican philosophy are his views on crime and punishment.
As a member of the Wisconsin Assembly, in 1996 Walker was the moving force behind the building of a 500-bed “Supermax” prison, which he claimed worked betterthan normal facilities; others had doubts. Also, when state officials sought a 200-bed unit, Walker insisted on more than doubling the request.
Another instance of Walker’s punitive aggressiveness can be found in an examplefrom 1997, when Walker pushed legislation that eliminated all parole, while increasing maximum criminal sentences by fifty percent. Walker also pushed for draconian legislation that would send juvenile offenders to adult prisons at age 15, although his colleagues in the Assembly rejected this excessively harsh approach. These, too, are examples of classic authoritarian behavior at work.
Conventionality. Authoritarian followers act in the tradition of society’s norms and customs. They never stand out; indeed, they are the polar opposite of rebels like the iconic long-haired hippie. The authoritarian follower is most comfortable with a fundamentalist religion, and as a member of an organization, he or she is most comfortable where the organization draws clear lines dividing right from wrong. Authoritarian followers believe in “family values” and follow the “straight and narrow” in dress and behavior. Scott Walker is Mr. Conventional. He has long been an active member of a fundamentalist church. He wears conservative, off-the-rack clothing. His hair is always closely trimmed, and his manner polite and pleasant. And he keeps company with like-acting and like-thinking people. (I cannot find a single radical right-wing position that Walker rejects.)
[…] Hopefully, one or more social scientists or political psychologists in Wisconsin, where there are many, will step forward and tell the people of Wisconsin more about what they have on their hands, with Scott Walker as their governor. In fact, the June 5, 2012 election is a true opportunity to discourage another leader who is a conservative without conscience, for these leaders always have a healthy following. Altemeyer estimates that about twenty-five percent of the population has, in varying degrees, the disposition to follow a double high authoritarian, many blindly or simply because it assuages their fears. And, of course, these are aggressive followers who can attract others who are unaware of the nature of the person they are electing, thus enabling an authoritarian leader like Walker to gain ever-growing control.
Good luck, Wisconsin.