An IST op-ed
My better half was watching a retro movie the other day entitled “Tribes” starring Darren McGavin about the USMC and a mystical wonder child that the Drill Sargent tried to break and could not….all so early 70’s…..and typical TV drama of the day.
The title got me to thinking about our country these days and the damage that all this silliness and yes it is flipping silly, is doing to the fabric of American society.
To begin with….what is political tribalism? n….loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group…..in other words….political division.
I read Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations, a new book by Yale law professor Amy Chua. Chua does not write as a political partisan. Rather, she writes as an analyst of our political culture, which is rapidly tribalizing. I strongly encourage everyone to read the book to understand the nature of our dire political moment, and how much worse it could get if we don’t find some way to stop the cycle.
I want to be very clear: Amy Chua does not side with either the left or the right in her book. She says that all of us are tribalizing. She doesn’t say this in an artificial “pox on both your houses” way. She really means it, and she shows how it’s happening.
Here on IST many visitors from the Right, because I criticize Trump, as being a Dem they are wrong and if they would just visit more often then they would have seen that I was a critic of Obama and his people as well…..but they read one post and label me. I do not really mind just shows their ignorance.
This whole “us against them” mentality is not American in my book…..it accomplishes nothing politically and finger pointing is just as silly (even though I have done it in the past out of frustration).
This “tribalism” has been more successful for the Right than the Left……
In “How America’s identity politics went from inclusion to division” (Guardian, March 1, 2018), Amy Chua argues that the U.S. left has given us the U.S. right, or at least has provided opportunities for the political right to rise to power. Chua makes the case that identity politics on the left and right makes the U.S. a less inclusive society.
She is right to some extent about some kinds of identity politics, but it’s there where the equivalency ends because identity politics on the right has led to murder, mayhem at the highest levels of government, and a return to racism that is supported by the right’s enormous wealth. Identifying with their own best interests gave the gay community medicines that made AIDS less than a certain death sentence.
In my opinion the Right has succeeded in the division admirably and as they divide us the Dems try to counter and thus the division gets deeper and deeper…..as the country divides the Congress jumps on the bandwagon…..
A few days ago I argued that sins-of-omission by Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans in the House, and Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans in the Senate, amounted to de facto shirking of their “check and balance” duty relative to Donald Trump. Because members of the majority party in the legislative branch wouldn’t call out or even notice Trump’s excesses—except, as with Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, when they had decided not to run again—they were putting unsustainable pressure on other parts of the formal and informal governing system. The courts, the press, Robert Mueller, and so on.
In the past I enjoyed political debate and discourse but these days it is not anything like the days I enjoyed……many especially on the Right will not except the title of “Tribes”……call it whatever you like but it boils down to political tribes…..
When it comes to politics, in 2015 we witnessed nothing less than a paradigm shift. The old rules are out the window. Technology and changing mores have conspired to lower barriers of entry—and acceptability. Gatekeepers no longer exist. What we have right now is closer to direct democracy than we’ve ever seen, and our civilization is regressing as a result.
One party (the Democrats) already represents the liberal half of the nation. The other half seems to consist of modern, Buckleyite conservatives, but also an increasingly large horde of populist, nationalist, individualistic Americans—who now have a megaphone and a vessel in the form of Donald Trump.
If you do not like the term “Tribes” then maybe “politics of identity” or “identity politics” may tickle your fancy……no matter the title it is NOT Making America Great…..in any way.