Tribalism in American Politics

An excellent piece in today’s Beast discussing tribalism in American politics…

The Daily Beast: The Tribal Election

Obama’s gambit creates an election in which turnout and mobilization—a fittingly military concept—of the faithful may be more important than the art of persuasion. It also guarantees a very ugly campaign, filled with even more than its usual share of innuendos, smears, and outright lies aimed at enthusing his base or—particularly for the GOP—discouraging members of unfriendly tribes from showing up to vote.

I would hesitate to say our politics are so different than those we often gawk at in the Middle East and other parts of the world. We shouldn’t consider our “civilized” elections to be anything of the sort. Our sectarianism is the same here simply in a different form. Perhaps it lacks outright violence, but the willingness of presidential election campaigns to attack and smear the character of their opponents knows no equal in the world.

I found this posted yesterday on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish:

The original posting of the full image is here:

Mapping the Nation: Charting the Flow of Political Power

Keeping in mind that this map only goes up until 1876, I am undoubtedly sure it’s makers would be surprised to learn that the two parties (Democrats and Republicans) it ends with are still the same parties competing for power today. It makes one wonder why we can’t return to the earlier days of the Republic where the two party structure was not always seemingly a fact of life.

The more our institutions, including the ones that are supposedly above politics (read: Supreme Court), continue to have their ranks filled by tribal loyalists, the less our government will be able to function and thus our Republican ideals achievable.


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