Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. Drezner has written five books, including All Politics is Global and Theories of International Politics and Zombies, and edited two others, including Avoiding Trivia. He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals as well as in several newspapers and magazines. He has been a contributing editor for Foreign Policy and The National Interest. He received his B.A. in political economy from Williams College and an M.A. in economics and Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. His blog was named by Time as one of the 25 best blogs of 2012. His newest book is The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Great Depression.
October 23: I’m the curator of the #ToddlerinChief thread on Twitter, a log of the times when a political ally of Donald Trump describes him like one would describe a small child. There are more than 535 examples in this thread since April 2017. But I have noticed a decided slowdown in the number of entries in recent weeks. There have been only 12 entries in October; Trump has averaged close to 28 entries since May 2017. Trust me when I say that has been a slow month.
Is there an explanation for this? Has Trump actually grown into the presidency?
Not exactly. As the midterm elections approach, and as Trump has devoted more and more of his time on the campaign hustings, he appears to have switched from general toddler-like behaviors to one specific toddler-like trait: lying.
Calling the president of the United States a liar used to be no small thing, but Trump’s record for lies, falsehoods and general untruths is genuinely impressive. Still, even the folks who fact-check Trump for a living have been surprised at just how bald-faced his recent lies have been.
It took thirty-four years before 80-year old Republican Senator Pete Domenici, admitted that as a 46 years old husband and father he fathered Adam Laxalt with 25-year old Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of a then-Senate colleague, Nevada Republican Paul Laxalt.
By keeping her secret, Ms. Laxalt, who never married, was able to work for Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes and held plum jobs at the State Department and Agency for International development (AID). She also built a lucrative practice representing corporations.
The relationship between Domenici and Ms. Laxalt would be a footnote in history if their son Adam had not decide to enter Nevada politics, and perform poorly as the states Attorney General. Now he wants to be Governor. Even 12 Laxalt family members oppose him. Here is why in their own words
According to Gabriel Urza, Kevin Nomura, Amy Nomura Solaro, Alexandra Urza, Kevan Danielle Laxalt, Michelle Terese Laxalt, Peter Laxalt, Michelle Janet Laxalt, Dr. Kevin Marie Laxalt, Dr. Kristin Laxalt, Monique Laxalt, and Meggan Laxalt Mackey, their family member Adam Laxalt is the wrong choice for Nevada governorship.
According to the Laxalt-12, “for those of us who were raised in Nevada, it’s difficult to hear him continue to falsely claim that he was raised in Nevada or has any true connections to Nevadans. The simple fact is that while he may have been born in Reno, he left as an infant and was raised on the East Coast, 3,000 miles away, in Washington, D.C., and moved here only in 2013, only one year later launching his political career. Aside from the occasional short visit, Adam never knew the state or its people. Perhaps if he had, he would stand for Nevada’s values rather than for those of his out-of-state donors.”
Consider the Adam Laxalt August 2017, Basque Fry Republican fundraiser. Attendees included Kellyanne Conway and Devin Nunes, with Laxalt dressed in jeans, a western shirt monogrammed with his campaign logo, his feet encased in “work” boots. Behind the stage was an orange tractor surrounded by hay bales.
The Laxalt-12 point out that Adam rallies against immigrants, the backbone on Nevada’s working force, thus denying his own immigrant family’s history.
His brief experience as a practicing lawyer was described as a “train wreck” by members of his own firm. His tenure in the attorney general’s office has been little more than a four-year publicity tour for his current campaign for governor. He even outsourced jobs in the AG’s office to out-of-state lawyers who were given special exemptions to practice law in Nevada.
According to the 12 family members, “Adam proceeded to undermine, time after time, not only twice-elected Governor Brian Sandoval but the welfare of all Nevadans. Most concerning is the ethical shortcomings that have come to light while Adam has been attorney general, and his willingness to ignore the law for self-serving political purposes. In his short time in public office, Adam has already demonstrated a servitude to donors and out-of-state interests that puts their concerns ahead of real Nevadans”.
The twelve family members argue that Laxalts shortcomings come down to a lack of real, authentic connection to our state, and a failure to understand what is important to real Nevadans.
Laxalt’s relatives point out that Nevada is a state driven by a modern economy and a diverse population, and we take deep pride in our rich, complicated history. Nevadans value their independence and their ability to share in the beauties of our wild state, while still respecting each other’s autonomy. “If Adam is elected governor, these values will be put in danger. Public lands will become less accessible for hunters and fishers and backpackers. Adam’s positions on health care and reproductive rights would limit how Nevadans care for their bodies or be free from government interference in relationships as sacred and personal as marriage. Adam wants to repeal hundreds of millions of dollars of education funding, even though he knows full well that Nevada is ranked 49th in the nation for pre-K-12 education”, the family says.
If Laxalt responds to this column at all, the twelve say, it will probably be to say that he hardly knows the people writing this column. “And in many ways that would be true. We never had a chance to get to know him, really — he spent his life in Washington, D.C., while we lived in Northern Nevada and grew up in public schools and on public lands. He moved to Nevada in 2013 so that he could lean on the reputation of a family that he hardly knew while tapping into support by donors who had no interest in our state or its people”, they say.
Trump emerged on the political scene. A 2016 Politico survey found that high authoritarians greatly favored then-candidate Trump, which led to a correct prediction that he would win the election, despite the polls saying otherwise.
2. In Trump’s speeches, he appeals to those with Social dominance orientation (SDO) by repeatedly making a clear distinction between groups that have a generally higher status in society (White), and those groups that are typically thought of as belonging to a lower status (immigrants and minorities).
A 2016 survey study of 406 American adults published this year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that those who scored high on both SDO and authoritarianism were those who intended to vote for Trump in the election.
3. Trump’s are sometimes shockingly direct. There’s no denying that he routinely appeals to bigoted supporters when he calls Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers,” often in a blanketed fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a new study has shown that support for Trump is correlated with a standard scale of modern racism.
4. A 2016 study found that “…the racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” This correlation persisted while controlling for dozens of other variables. In agreement with this finding, the same researchers found that support for Trump increased with the voters’ physical distance from the Mexican border.
5. There is no doubt that some Trump supporters are simply angry that American jobs are being lost to Mexico and China, which is certainly understandable, although these loyalists often ignore the fact that some of these careers are actually being lost due to the accelerating pace of automation.
If such data is accurate, the portrayal of most Trump supporters as “working class” citizens rebelling against Republican elites may be more myth than fact.
Bobby Azarian, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist and science writer in the Washington, D.C. area. Online: www.bobbyazarian.com