A man marching with white nationalists makes a slashing motion across his throat toward counter-protester in Charlottesville's white pride rally. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A man marching with white nationalists makes a slashing motion across his throat toward counter-protester in Charlottesville's white pride rally. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Abstract

Co-authored with Nicholas T. Davis

Social intolerance embodies an unwillingness to associate or fraternize with individuals whose cultural, racial, or religious ideas or ways differ from one’s own group. Such prejudice is a particularly thorny problem in the context of democracy, which is predicated upon extending representational access to all citizens irrespective of race or creed. To what extent, then, does this social intolerance affect individuals’ support for democratic institutions? Using World Values Surveys from 1995 to 2011, we find that intolerance toward cultural, ethnic, or racial ‘others’ reduces the value that white Americans assign to democracy. Perhaps more troubling, these attitudes also increase white individuals’ openness to undemocratic alternatives – white Americans who exhibit social intolerance are more likely to dismiss the value of separation of powers and to support army rule. We close with a discussion of how our analyses inform American politics in the age of Trump and how political scientists can better understand the connection between social intolerance and anti-democratic orientations.

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