America has a problem with political tribalism. Ironically, it’s a bipartisan problem. Both parties are stock-piling drone-like followers who are increasingly difficult to reach with logic, facts, or any objective set of standards. America’s Problem is political tribalism. The question is: Are you a contributor? Committed Conservatives are not.
Political tribalism’s defining characteristic is willful ignorance. The growing problem is complicated by the reality that political tribalism captures the so-called educated and the uneducated alike.
Political tribalists are ripping America apart.
They are resistant to fact or reason. They have a side, and that side is always right while the other side is always wrong. It’s worse; tribalists hate the other side so much that even if they know their side is wrong, a tribalist will still go all in to defend his or her tribe.
Political tribalists spread lies and disinformation and they are easily duped by tribal manipulators. The media feeds of tribalism, as do both major parties. Other profit off tribalism, like the fake news profiteers who count mindless American drones believing, clicking, and spreading anything.
Political tribalism is party before country.
The two most frustrating types of political tribalists include the obviously ignorant and dismissively arrogant. Both are easy to spot. The ignorant share posts whose rants, reasoning, language, and judgment underscore an appalling intellectual deficit coupled with an obvious knowledge gap about a given subject area.
The second type of tribalist might be worse. He or she is the “educated” political tribalist who believes he or she is of superior intellect and views the opinions of others as expressions of intellectual inferiority. Their posts are dismissive, emotion-packed, and empty of facts.
Have you ever heard or read someone who says something like this? “All Trumpers or Trumpkins are rednecks, or white supremacists, or low information voters.” That’s a tribalist.
“Democrats are all socialists, they hate America and they just want to take our money and give it to their lazy voters? That’s a tribalist.
Both types of political tribalists, left and right, formally “educated” or not, share a common feature. Political tribalists will not read, think, or consider opposing views.
This political Tribalism stalls good governance and it is poisoning the civil society. It is creating a great wall between Americans.
You might be a political tribalist if:
You never read anything but the title or description of a story.
You only read opinions you agree with.
You think all mainstream media is Fake News.
You think only your cable network is telling the truth.
You don’t know the difference between facts and opinion.
You’re a cynic, rather than a skeptic.
You trust off-beat stories that include no analysis of verifiable facts.
Your circle of friends and social media network all think like and agree with you.
You reject all arguments that disagree with how you feel.
Your opinions are based on feelings and emotion, not thought, reason, and analysis.
You are certain you know more than everyone who disagrees with you.
The exact same conduct that is wrong for the other side is not wrong for your side.
Your side deserves the benefit of the doubt, the other side doesn’t even deserve to be heard.
Free speech is the exclusive domain of your side.
You think your undergraduate degree makes you educated and superior to those without.
You think those with degrees are brainwashed unless they agree with you.
You think conservatism means hating the other guy.
You think progressivism means hating the other guy.
You tell people to check their privilege.
You think being white is racist.
You routinely call people with whom you disagree racist.
You think the other side is all sexist, misogynistic, racist, ignorant, homophobic or haters.
You think your tribe is innocent until proven guilty and the other tribe is guilty until proven innocent.
You think all conservatives are Republicans and all Republicans are conservatives.
You think Trump is a Russian agent, collaborator, or dupe.
You think Trump is a political genius.
You think Black Lives Matters is civil rights group.
You think white nationalist movements are fine.
You identify everyone by sub-groups, embracing identity politics.
You think diversity is a worthy goal unto its own, but only based on color and quotas.
You think there was a Muslim Ban.
You think all Muslims are terrorists.
You think corporations are all evil and government is all good.
You think government is all evil and corporations are all good.
You support all military action if ordered by your side.
You oppose all military action if ordered by the other side.
You think everyone else is not paying or doing their share.
You think the national anthem is racist.
You think the word “thug” is racist.
You think everything is racist, except your own opinions of all other groups.
You have never and will never vote for the other tribe.
You can’t be civil to people with whom you disagree.
You unfriend actual friends and family from social media because of their political views.
One of these sad attributes alone may not make you a tribalist. If you fit into three, you are headed to tribalism. Any more than three, you are a tribalist who probably stopped reading this anyway.
You are the problem.
Willful ignorance defines these characteristics. What’s that? It’s a stubborn opposition to hearing, considering, and thinking about opposing opinions.
It’s not merely that you don’t want to compromise with the other side, it’s that you don’t want to hear them at all. You don’t want to live by them, work with them, or have your family associate with them. You are angry and bitter that you must share with them what you think is your country.
Political tribalists have had enough of “them.”
Tribalism is the opposite of the melting pot. With American tribalism, the tribalists aren’t trying to create one America of shared values, compromise, and the enrichment that comes from our collective views. Tribalists have no interest in the grand recipe that has simmered in our great American melting pot. Literally, they want out of the soup. More precisely, they want you out of the soup.
Tribalism is about trying to take one side’s ingredients out of the pot, after it has been cooking.
We all get burned that way.
I used to tell my law students this about divorce. Where there was once love and fellowship, the divorce proceeding becomes marked by a hate and anger that is the dark flip-side of love. It’s sad. Many divorcing couples who were once in love and might have given their life for their spouse, often get close to simply wanting to kill that person. If not literally, many angry former lovers set out in divorce through calculated efforts to destroy and bankrupt the other. The goal for too many becomes to essentially vanquish the former lover.
That emotion driven, hate inspired, reason-free conduct, is America’s political tribalism.
Americans once organized around common themes of coming together as one nation, growing families and communities in faith and fellowship. Now, we want to evict the other tribe and drive them from the village. That’s how a thousand civil wars have started. That tribalism is why innumerable countries never unite.
America is devolving based on political tribalism, and from that comes the obvious next step, division, and war.
So, are you part of this problem?
I am an American Conservative with strong beliefs about how to make this country better for everyone. My tribe is America, and while I may work to convince you of my principles, my goal is to unite us to create a more perfect union.
Of course, if you are really a tribalist, you never got to these lines. You never read this piece, and you already know who is right and wrong … on everything.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is a trial Attorney and author of the new book on higher education, “Of Serfs and Lords: Why College Tuition is Creating a Debtor Class”
Rich is a former Assistant Law School Dean and Law Professor. At Mason Law Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP, drawing on his expertise as a former CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud.
Before returning to private practice, Rich taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation.
He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV. Rich has appeared on hundreds of stations as a legal expert or political commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL.
Rich also writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.