The Alphas/Beta Dynamic is Accelerating the GOP’s Slide into Authoritarianism

Alpha/Beta masculinity is a terrible idea. It’s also driving the Republican Party’s descent into madness.

Mark Greene
4 min readJul 26, 2022

Sen. Josh Hawley, one of the most well known authoritarian voices in the Republican Party is not a so-called alpha. If we go with the arguably terrible alpha/beta view of masculinity, Hawley is a beta trying to be an alpha. @JasonAblin recently tweeted this:

The dynamic Jason Ablin describes here really resonated for me. This “wanna be” dynamic speaks directly to the acceleration of GOP authoritarianism.

In a dominance-based masculine cultures like the GOP, men are ranked by their ability to dominate those around them. Trump signaled his dominance by giving playground bully nicknames to every man running against him in 2016. He openly insulted Ted Cruz’s wife and Cruz let him, at which point Cruz forever cemented his status as a beta in GOP world.

When President Trump allowed hundreds of thousands of people to die from COVID, he set the dominance bar dramatically higher for every man in the GOP. When we say “cruelty is the point” this is what we’re talking about.

Trumps comfort with weaponizing COVID disinformation for political advantage set off a scramble among other Republican leaders to model an equal casual indifference to the death of US citizens.

GOP Gov Ron DeSantis instituted policies to end masking and attacking calls for public heath measures in Florida. DeSantis proved his ability to ignore the death of tens of thousands, winning Rupert Murdoch’s support as Trump’s replacement.

It’s no accident that red states have higher COVID death rates as would-be GOP alphas raced to model the hyper-dominant authoritarianism of men like Trump and DeSantis. The speed with which the entire party spread COVID disinformation was startling.

In GOP dominance-based masculine culture, a few alphas sit at the top of the hierarchy. Beneath them is an army of betas like Senators Hawley, Rubio, Cruz, Graham, who frantically seek to prove their alpha status by doubling down on Trump’s cruelty, accelerating the slide.

This is why things have gotten so bad, so very quickly. The dominance slide is accelerating. Criminalizing abortion means women will die of preventable pregnancy complications. For authoritarian GOP leaders, indifference to this loss of life validates their Alpha status.

Every time an act of economic, political or physical violence is directed by a leader in the GOP, no matter how bad it may be, the army of wanna be betas like Sen. Hawley will trip over themselves to implement something worse.

There is no gradual decline into authoritarianism. Driven by the army of beta wannabes each hungry for power, and terrified by loss of status, authoritarianism always accelerates as the GOP’s is doing now. We’re watching them try to top each other’s cruelty in real time.

The Republican Party that once existed is gone. You can see it in the fear behind every elected Republicans’ smile. As authoritarianism accelerates, the cost of failing to support it, to double down on it fast enough, ratchets up. The scramble becomes more overt, more frantic

Democrats must win big in the midterms. The violence the GOP will unleash if they regain control of the levers of power will not end. Men like Sen. Hawley are running on adrenaline and raw fear now. They will do anything to keep up the pretense that they are GOP alphas.

For the record, the concept of men as alphas and betas is a terrible way to look at being human. I don’t think it’s healthy, accurate or a viable model for designing culture. But men in dominance-based hierarchical masculine culture live and die by by those terrible frames.

The bullying idea that men can only validate their masculinity by dominating others is dominance-based masculine culture’s core belief. Alphas/beta systems exist *because* millions of men have bought into this, and it’s driving the GOP’s slide into authoritarianism.

Want to better understand how dominance-based masculine culture forces boys and men in the Man Box? More importantly, want to know how to protect our young sons and help men break out? Check out our podcasts, books, and other resources here:



Mark Greene

Working toward a culture of healthy masculinity. Links to our books, podcasts, Youtube and more: