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Tribalism is replacing nationalism in politics

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    The term "tribalism" is being used more frequently to describe the great divide in American politics. Robert Reich's article from last March on the topic of tribalism caught my attention.

    Robert Reich, March 23, 2014, The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State

    In this article, Robert Reich discusses how globally we are reverting from nation-states to tribalism.

    "Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal. Religious beliefs and affiliations, the nuances of one’s own language and culture, the daily realities of class, and the extensions of one’s family and its values – all are providing people with ever greater senses of identity."

    He cites how many of the politically determined boundaries defining countries are becoming unraveled. The old Soviet Union is the most noteworthy example as the various new nations emerging from its demise are largely defined by their tribal roots...ethnicity and language for the most part. Separatist movements by Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians and the the Kurds in northern Iraq are also mostly tribal. Ditto for the conflicts in the Middle East...a Sunni-Shia split ostensibly on religious grounds but also largely tribal in nature.

    In America we are also witnessing tribalism in politics. Reich cites members of one tribe as "liberals, progressives, and Democrats" holding sharply different views and values than the members of the other tribe: "conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans". I will label them Tribe Democrats and Tribe Republicans.

    "Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property). Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs."

    Not only those values separate the tribes, but also race and ethnicity. Tribe Democrats are more African American, Latino, Asian and women. Tribe Republicans are more white male.

    While I agree with Reich's observations, I would add that there is another distinct difference between Tribe Democrats and Tribe Republicans. The Tribe Republicans are largely driven by emotions and less by critical thinking. As such, they can be manipulated by their oligarch leaders into voting against their best interests. The Tribe Republican leaders seek out divisive emotive issues and then drive them ruthlessly with misinformation and passion...gun rights, abortion, gay rights, patriotism (but anti-big government regulations), wars, Christianity, evolution, welfare, taxes, climate change and more. It's not that any members of Tribe Republicans agree with their leaders on every issue, but that they only need one issue...all the rest are secondary.

    When I was canvassing for Obama, I knocked on the door of one young woman who was a registered Democrat. She advised me that in fact she was voting for Romney. I asked why and she said just one word: "abortion". All the other women's issues didn't matter. Because of Romney's views on abortion she became a member of Tribe Republican, at least for that presidential election.

    Thus on every November election you will find the split somewhere between 47-53, and and more often 49-51. We vote with our tribes and often those vote might go against our best interests...especially true if you are a member of Tribe Republican. The Koch brothers are only too happy to play on emotions and ignorance to expand their tribe.
  • Center Left Democrat
    Democrat
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    Schmidt:


    Good thoughts.

    The irony of the debate about abortion is that the Republicans attempts to make birth control more difficult to obtain (by closing Planned Parenthood clinics and other restrictions) will inevitably lead to an INCREASE in abortions. The "pro-life" party is the same one that cut off food stamps for poor people last November, have fought pre-K education, and have fought the extension of unemployment benefits. Since we all need air to breathe, it's truly ironic that the party that was in the White House when the Clean Air and Water Acts were passed is also the party that now fights the hardest to kill environmental regulations. What's "pro-life" about that?

    The debate about abortion has always been complicated, and most people would be surprised by the fact that majority of the judges in the ruling were conservatives, not liberals.

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/05/21/are-liberal-judges-to-blame-for-roe-v-wade/

    You've seen my thoughts on this topic before, but here's another look:

    http://tohell-andback.blogspot.com/2011/01/roe-vs-wade.html
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Thanks Arizona --

    Thanks for the links. Yes abortion is one of the dividing issues, and many people do not differentiate between late term abortions that are regulated, and "abortions from the day of conception"...the morning after pill. But there are other issues, and what bothers me is that if you take all the political tribalism away from the dialogue, we can probably have an honest debate. But Republicans do not want honest debate. It works to their disadvantage. They want conformance and loyalty to the tribe. They control the messaging...the propaganda.

    For example, Tribe Republicans leaders have successfully conditioned the thinking of many of their tribal members from the get go that President Obama was not a legitimate president. They introduced the false idea that he wasn't born in America, that his birth certificate was a forgery, that he spent time in an Indonesian madrasa, that he was a secret Muslim with a Kenyon father and therefore was an illegitimate president. And they drove that idea relentlessly in the right wing noise machines...Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones...day after day, week after week, month after month. The purpose, of course, was to diminish Obama's stature as being a "real American" backed up with such trivial things as not wearing a flag pin, not saluting a Marine guard, not wearing a coat and tie in the Oval office, and more.

    So being anti-Obama (he is not one of us and cannot be trusted) became an integral part of the Tribe Republican group think..."if Obama is for it, we must be against it". All members must support that idea or they will be cast out of the tribe..."primaried" is the word used for getting rid of moderate tribal members in primary elections.

    Having conditioned the tribe to associate the name "Obama" as having a derogatory "not one of us" meaning, they then slapped the name "ObamaCare" on the Affordable Care Act and couched it as a big government takeover of our health care system...the word "socialism" mentioned time and again.

    In my home state of Colorado right now, the Koch brothers American for Prosperity, is running endless misinformation ads day after day attacking ObamaCare and Senator Udall as supporting ObamaCare. Repetition, repetition, repetition...unlimited money resources to saturate the airwaves with false and misleading ads linking Senator Udall with the "hated Obama" and ObamaCare. Democrats in other states are also running scared...not wanting Obama to show up at their events.

    This is just one example of how the Tribe Republican leaders control the thinking of their tribe. And it works. Senator Udall could be ousted by the Tea Party "no abortion, no birth control, cut taxes for the rich" Tribe Republican, Cory Gardner. The polls are evenly divided.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    It is so unfortunate that not only do the voters vote according to their ( tribe) but so many are also one issue voters, as an election judge I so often hear and see the poll watchers from each party answer questions from voters regarding the hot button issue only, they (the voters) are completely oblivious to what the candidates stands for on other critical and important issues, I feel that any elected official that gets elected because of his/her stance on certain issues during the campaign and then does a 180 degree turn on those issues when he/she is in office should be made to explain their change of focus to the electorate and be held accountable.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Great post Schmidt. I couldn't agree with you more.

    Tribe politics have been around in this country since its inception, but the issues of 'the tribes' always seem to morph and adapt. If we break it down into its simplest terms, it is the age old 'rich vs poor' politics that have defined our body politic for thousands of years. Those who have the wealth want to expand it at the expense of those who don't. They use wedge issues to keep 'the minions' constantly fighting with each other instead of questioning why there is such a massive divide between them and the well to do. That's why religion, abortion, taxes, you name it, are framed in a way to pit average people against each other.

    If the average Tea Partier understood that they are constantly voting for people who legislate for their wealthy friends and against their better interests then we may actually see some change in this country. The ever dwindling middle-class and poor in this country constantly vote for representatives who will screw them over because they don't like the other person's stance on abortion or gay marriage. They willfully vote for someone that will make their life harder because they dislike gay people. It's just crazy if you think about it.

    Unfortunately, these Tea Partiers are hoodwinked by Fox News and conservative media outlets who make them think that everything would be better if we just slashed all taxes, kicked out all the gays, denied people health care for any reason under the sun, and marginalized women back to the roles they are 'supposed to play.' You know--the good ole days.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Yes "Jared" and "Schmidt" you are right. Just one thing is forgotten "the whole not thinking class" where do they fit in? Also when they vote, I guess it is for a pretty face or the name sounds familiar and the promises are in line with their "non" thinking. Sorry to say half the country is like that!!!
    So under what "tribe" do they fall?
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    While observing my mornings read on the Internet news worthy stories, I saw a disturbing release on the KKK's increased recruiting efforts. Apparently, the KKK is initiating new recruitment tactics with flyers deposited on driveways, personal approaches and handing out candy to kids all with an agenda to increase members. So, this topic on tribal politics may lend itself to the KKK tribe of forcing a political character of racism in America. Can you be KKK and be a Democrat, Republican or Tea Partier? Maybe, but just not publically stating your a KKK member. America has had politicians that have spoken out supporting the KKK and recently I seem to remember a politician from Louisiana was identified as a grand dragon of the KKK. These tribal cultures are distinct and colorful in how they portray themselves as Americans serving the Constitutions mandate, "We the People". "We" just seems like "Them" rather than "All of Us" working together for the improvement of humanity and "Our" liberty and freedom from oppression. I did see where KKK.org was identified for releasing media information on joining. Of course, I trashed the thought of even going to the website.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    Although the KKK is a more widely known group of racists, there are however , many more that thrive just below the radar, and these types of separatists groups are not restricted to just white hate groups, and you are correct about politicians and some supposed civic minded groups about harboring racist ideas and thoughts, as an old time radio announcer once stated before each broadcast, "Who knows what evil lies in the hearts and minds of men, the Shadow knows", unfortunately we don't have a crime fighter such as the Shadow amongst us.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    The Tribes are feeding off each other now with the current news on Politico about two ex-Senators. Trent Lott (R) Mississippi and John Breaux (D) Louisiana have been hired by the Russians. Our ex-Senators are now lobbying for a Russian Bank to obstruct and run interference on US sanctions to Russia. So, where are these, so called Americans, citizens priority to this nation? Is nothing sacred, but money and corruption? Is this Bi-partisan because one is Republican and the other Democrat? Although both are conservative, they were from different parties.

    Greed and a lack of national pride is what these two ex-Senators are about. I seem to remember Lott involved with corruption, which forced him out, but I don't know anything about Breaux.

    Who else in Congress do we have to worry about selling out our nation for other countries interests. I am convinced that Russia has nothing good for America and will stop at nothing to dominate our nation. Russia has already tipped their hand by invading eastern Europe, so hiring some no good senators is no surprise.

    Tribal politics show nothing for America and everything about greed, status and power.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I'm regurgitating this thread from last summer because as I was watching Obama's SOTU yesterday, it is remarkable how Republicans and Democrats sit down or stand up in unison during key points in Obama's speech depending on their party (tribal) affiliations. I feel that if every Republican stood up or sat down based on his/her conscience, we might have seen a few Republicans standing from time to time on several of the issues. As it is they only stood up and clapped in honoring the military, or a trade agreement, and a few other cherished party beliefs. The rest of the time they sat on their hands no matter how they might personally feel about the issue.

    It must be comical to an outsider watching the show, but it's also why this last Congress was the least productive in history. Party allegiance against all things, Barack Obama.
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    Yes, it was very interesting to watch Boehner sitting there, through the whole episode, looking like a frozen carp nailed to a dart board; ) It has to be hard to sit there like a dept store mannequin, ---- but the PAY is good, --- so anyone could sit there for a few minutes, acting "dead" -- for that kind of dough. But just because someone has perfected the skill of "playing dead" ---- should we continue to PAY HIM, as if he was actually doing his JOB? Now I am all in favor of people with disabilities, receiving their just benefits. And being visibly "brain dead" is probably a real disability --- but maybe he should be at home where he does not threaten the "work ethics" of our young children watching. Many kids will see that & think THEY want to grow up to be just like Mr. Boehner, & get paid just for staring into space & occasionally scowling. (It is really a well-trained skill set, & it takes years of practice). BUT it could make many decent Democratic kids get the wrong idea. That they could just become Republicans, & learn to scowl & act brain dead, & get a good job. ------- Hey, why didn't I think of that?? ---- Well, it does take a little bit more ----- MOST of those Republicans -- are NOT ACTING !! : ) : )
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    Schmidt Wrote: The term "tribalism" is being used more frequently to describe the great divide in American politics. Robert Reich's article from last March on the topic of tribalism caught my attention.

    Robert Reich, March 23, 2014, The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State

    In this article, Robert Reich discusses how globally we are reverting from nation-states to tribalism.

    "Nations are becoming less relevant in a world where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections that matter most are again becoming more personal. Religious beliefs and affiliations, the nuances of one’s own language and culture, the daily realities of class, and the extensions of one’s family and its values – all are providing people with ever greater senses of identity."

    He cites how many of the politically determined boundaries defining countries are becoming unraveled. The old Soviet Union is the most noteworthy example as the various new nations emerging from its demise are largely defined by their tribal roots...ethnicity and language for the most part. Separatist movements by Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians and the the Kurds in northern Iraq are also mostly tribal. Ditto for the conflicts in the Middle East...a Sunni-Shia split ostensibly on religious grounds but also largely tribal in nature.

    In America we are also witnessing tribalism in politics. Reich cites members of one tribe as "liberals, progressives, and Democrats" holding sharply different views and values than the members of the other tribe: "conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans". I will label them Tribe Democrats and Tribe Republicans.

    "Each tribe has contrasting ideas about rights and freedoms (for liberals, reproductive rights and equal marriage rights; for conservatives, the right to own a gun and do what you want with your property). Each has its own totems (social insurance versus smaller government) and taboos (cutting entitlements or raising taxes). Each, its own demons (the Tea Party and Ted Cruz; the Affordable Care Act and Barack Obama); its own version of truth (one believes in climate change and evolution; the other doesn’t); and its own media that confirm its beliefs."

    Not only those values separate the tribes, but also race and ethnicity. Tribe Democrats are more African American, Latino, Asian and women. Tribe Republicans are more white male.

    While I agree with Reich's observations, I would add that there is another distinct difference between Tribe Democrats and Tribe Republicans. The Tribe Republicans are largely driven by emotions and less by critical thinking. As such, they can be manipulated by their oligarch leaders into voting against their best interests. The Tribe Republican leaders seek out divisive emotive issues and then drive them ruthlessly with misinformation and passion...gun rights, abortion, gay rights, patriotism (but anti-big government regulations), wars, Christianity, evolution, welfare, taxes, climate change and more. It's not that any members of Tribe Republicans agree with their leaders on every issue, but that they only need one issue...all the rest are secondary.

    When I was canvassing for Obama, I knocked on the door of one young woman who was a registered Democrat. She advised me that in fact she was voting for Romney. I asked why and she said just one word: "abortion". All the other women's issues didn't matter. Because of Romney's views on abortion she became a member of Tribe Republican, at least for that presidential election.

    Thus on every November election you will find the split somewhere between 47-53, and and more often 49-51. We vote with our tribes and often those vote might go against our best interests...especially true if you are a member of Tribe Republican. The Koch brothers are only too happy to play on emotions and ignorance to expand their tribe.
    What did u expect? The divide and tribalism has always been there. We created laws and language in an attempt to disguise it, and maybe even slow it down. This isn't something new. That's always been my point since I started participating in this forum. We came from tribes from the very start and we're goona end in these very tribes.
    I don't blame southerners for their views. I understand completely why rednecks think the way they do. The crazy part is that "laws" aren't going to change their views. Everyone talks about "rights" in this forum...and as crazy as you think the south is....and if you do in fact believe in equal protection and due process....then they have valid issues that need to addressed and maybe even protected under law. You see, I don't give a shit what person does in hois house or on his land or church.....just keep it off my block and we'll be just fine.

    Schmidt....when I look at your forum photo....I see a big ass shit kicking cowboy who I may need a pipe wrench to fight with if we ever had a conflict. (joking)
    I get a "JOHN WAYNE" impression. I maybe completely wrong...but my tribal ways see you that way.....Sight is the very first sense that I have and I gather my initial opinion from that sense......If you lived on my block we'd call you "CORN FED" ( a big ass white man) but thats a sign of respect....not a racial attack.
    Tribalism is the very reason racism will never go away.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    L.A. Citizen -- I agree with many of your views on tribalism. I grew up in a rough mining town (Butte, Montana...my dad was a miner) and my tribe at the time was my fellow neighborhood kids. We kind of looked after each when other kids from across the tracks ventured into our "territory". However, you misjudged me by my photo. I'm an introvert by nature, and I never picked a fight with anyone. I generally get along with everyone, but at times I had to "stand my ground". In those days that phrase just meant your fists and maybe rolling around in the dirt with your opponent, but no one really ever got badly hurt except for their pride. We generally shook hands after settling the score. If I could walk away from a fight I probably would, depending on the circumstances.

    I say I got along with most people, but in life mostly in the corporate world, the one type of person I could never get along with was the authoritarian bullies. That's perhaps why I have such a disdain for those smooth talking Republican bullies that like to shit on people. We are all captives of our experiences.

    Nevertheless, where we might disagree is your depiction of tribalism with racism. In my working career, I had the privilege of working with people of different ethnicities, races and religions...including Muslims. In fact my Arab and Indonesian Muslim employees were some of the best, both socially and professionally. That mixed work group in fact became my new tribe. I hired many of them, and we here loyal to each other, much the same as my neighborhood gang as a kid.

    My stereotype of Muslims comes from living and working in a Muslim country where I was treated kindly and with respect...but of course that is a two way street. Respect is earned, not given. I think that should apply to America foreign policy as well. We always do better with diplomacy. We never win the hearts and minds with bombs and bullets, not to mention torture.
  • Liberal
    Other Party
    Llos Angeles, CA
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    Schmidt Wrote: L.A. Citizen -- I agree with many of your views on tribalism. I grew up in a rough mining town (Butte, Montana...my dad was a miner) and my tribe at the time was my fellow neighborhood kids. We kind of looked after each when other kids from across the tracks ventured into our "territory". However, you misjudged me by my photo. I'm an introvert by nature, and I never picked a fight with anyone. I generally get along with everyone, but at times I had to "stand my ground". In those days that phrase just meant your fists and maybe rolling around in the dirt with your opponent, but no one really ever got badly hurt except for their pride. We generally shook hands after settling the score. If I could walk away from a fight I probably would, depending on the circumstances.

    I say I got along with most people, but in life mostly in the corporate world, the one type of person I could never get along with was the authoritarian bullies. That's perhaps why I have such a disdain for those smooth talking Republican bullies that like to shit on people. We are all captives of our experiences.

    Nevertheless, where we might disagree is your depiction of tribalism with racism. In my working career, I had the privilege of working with people of different ethnicities, races and religions...including Muslims. In fact my Arab and Indonesian Muslim employees were some of the best, both socially and professionally. That mixed work group in fact became my new tribe. I hired many of them, and we here loyal to each other, much the same as my neighborhood gang as a kid.

    My stereotype of Muslims comes from living and working in a Muslim country where I was treated kindly and with respect...but of course that is a two way street. Respect is earned, not given. I think that should apply to America foreign policy as well. We always do better with diplomacy. We never win the hearts and minds with bombs and bullets, not to mention torture.
    But the world has changed. human behavior is changing. Those fights you spoke of in your home town (growing up) where everybody shook hands....that world doesn't exist anymore. The values that you were taught are fading away. And yes, I'm sure you were treated with dignity and respect in those Muslim countries.....but you didn't go there waiving a bible in the air demanding tolerance. You didn't pitch a tent either or make demands.....You respected their ways, laws and customs... and you worked. There was no reason to disrespect you.
    Today,,,,if you were to go back to those same countries things may be different then when you left. Diplomacy was the answer, not anymore.
    Take a look at our own Congress.....today's diplomacy doesn't even (in any way) mirror the diplomacy practiced in the past. How do you rationalize with an idiot?? People make demands today,,,they don't ask or even consider the other guy. The world has changed.
    I saw it immediately after getting out of prison. I was in shock for a couple of months. people had changed sooo much in 15 years. I expected it to be the way it was when I left.......I WAS WRONG
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    Hey guys: I don't want ANYONE on this Forum to be getting into a physical fight. Because if I have to come over there and drag you out by the ears, it will be a sorry day for all of us. You two would have to stand in the corner (eating popcorn) for at least a half an hour. And no giggling.