Tribalism In the Age of Trump; Or, Stop Rooting For the Uniform

Time and again, the idea of the 2016 election being a “binary” one was shoved down our collective throats. You had to either be for Trump or for Clinton. Many contributing to this fiasco declared there was no in-between.


Now that it’s President Trump, we’re seemingly faced with another binary dilemma: if you approve of his actions, you’ve abandoned your principles. By disagreeing, you have automatically become a cheerleader for the Left. Similar to the election, this either/or is incorrect, but many still push it as a convenient fact.

It is not even a month into the new administration, and already we are seeing some disturbing trends.

Supporters of Trump, even the reluctant ones, are excusing some of his actions and behavior and substituting a “but Obama did x y or z!” in its stead. Yes, Obama may have acted in a similar fashion and the Left may have ignored such behavior, but that does not mean we should. Why only meet the minimum requirements in order to barely surpass the other side in terms of moral authority? I’m positive that isn’t conservatism.

If what you’re doing is valid, it should be able to stand on its own. Period. It should not require a perusal of past mistakes by your opponents to be considered a good move. But if you choose to do so, as many of us do, you must maintain your standards.

Conversely, approving of Trump’s actions – as they come – does not mean selling out in any way whatsoever. Those of us who were #NeverTrump still exist. We didn’t slink off in embarrassment. In case it’s unclear, #NeverTrump was centered around the fact that we would not vote for him. Once the election was over, the “movement” ended. It was going to end no matter who inhabited the White House.

What remains now that he has been inaugurated is a sober understanding of reality. Yes, he is our president. Yes, we may agree with his administration’s policies/actions. We might even praise them. But this is a case-by-case situation. That is #NeverTrump in the post-January 20 world.

Unfortunately, pre-election foolishness has filtered into the present. Those on the Right side of the aisle who are taking things as they come are branded as leftover losers from the #NeverTrump camp. We’ll take that designation, since it says more about the one using it than it does us. We aren’t painting the administration with a broad brush of approval or disapproval. That’s how each administration should be approached.

No, politics is not a team sport. Blind praise due to the letter next to the politician’s name is a characteristic of the Left, not the Right. Each individual action on the field can and should be scrutinized. This is not exchanging principles for popularity. In fact, it’s the opposite.

It’s clear that tribalism is the name of the game in the age of Trump. If you use hypocrisy to rightly criticize the other side, do not forsake your standards. If you praise one of Trump’s actions, make sure principle is backing it up. Either way, get comfortable.

It’s going to be a long game.


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