A widely lauded new study from three political scientists has found that the people who are most strongly attracted to President Donald Trump are fueled by “chaos” and tend to believe that “society should be burned to the ground.”
The study, which was cited in the latest column from the New York Times’ Thomas Edsall, found that social media websites have allowed angry conspiracy theorists to gain mass audiences, whereas in the past they have been relegated to the fringes of political discourse.
These formerly fringe actors are driven by the need to create chaos, Edsall writes, and that’s why they are drawn so strongly to Trump’s presidency.
The study’s authors — political scientists Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen of Aarhus University in Denmark, and Kevin Arceneaux of Temple University — found that Trump supporters were far more likely than other voters to be sympathetic toward statements such as “I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over” and “I think society should be burned to the ground.”
These views are a minority among voters, the authors claim, but they nonetheless have “incredible amounts of support” among the general population. In fact, the study found that 24 percent of all 6,000-plus people surveyed said they believed society “should be burned to the ground.”
Edsall concludes by worrying about the very dangerous reaction that could occur from the president’s supporters if he goes down in defeat in 2020.
“A political leader who thrives on chaos, relishes disorder and governs on the principle of narcissistic self-interest is virtually certain to find defeat intolerable,” he warns. “If voters deny Trump a second term, how many of his most ardent supporters, especially those with a ‘need for chaos,’ will find defeat unbearable?”