Not sure he quite nails it, but Jonathan Haidt has a theory:
...the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society.Though commentary on this piece is all over the place, you can follow the discussion here.
Our view comes in from a slightly different angle. You can follow our position in our "swarms" theme-blog and in some of our more specific blogs on politics. The authoritarian mind-set of the Republican convention was evident in the near-unanimity of their cheerleading support of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Nobody really knew anything about her (save for a few knowledgeable insider advisers from the Crowd Kristol set). Yet, with the announcement of this non-entity, the crowd went into spasms of hero worship based solely on the insiders' marketing campaign. Nobody asked questions; nobody questioned the authorities. Nobody asked if she was the single best Republican (or Demopendent, a/k/a Joe Lieberman) the party had to offer for the position. They just fell in line.
Citing the definitive 1950 work of Adorno, et al., Wikipedia's short introductory article on the "authoritarian personality" defines the phenomenon like this:
These traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex. In brief, the authoritarian is predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values.The point being: it takes both sheep and shepherds to make a herd, and the authoritarian personality accommodates both, in fact requires both. Social adhesion and cohesion in multicultural circumstances require so-called strongmen—think Tito. And the authoritarian personality needs the strongman to project them from their perceived and manufactured enemies, but more specifically—wait for it—their own darker instincts.