A recession might be just around the corner, but for experts in the field of “authoritarian studies,” these are boom times. Jonathan Weiler, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has spent much of his career studying the appeal of authoritarian figures: politicians who preach xenophobia, beat up on the press and place themselves above the law while extolling “law and order” for everyone else. He is one of many scholars who believe that deep-seated psychological traits help explain voters’ attraction to such leaders. “These days,” he told me, “audiences are more receptive to the idea” than they used to be.
Image credit: Gabriella Demczuk for the New York Times