Political Tribalism Is Killing America

(AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

Recently, I wrote a piece referencing a recent poll on the general feelings of people regarding former President Donald Trump's current legal woes and the plausible future regarding the election. The article caused a firestorm in the comments section and the X (formerly known as Twitter) online communities. You can go ahead and head on over to RedState's Twitter page and see some for yourself. I started to think about why our nation is being so divided. 

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It got me thinking about something that I think is very important to discuss: political tribalism. The Cambridge Dictionary defines tribalism as:

the state of existing as a tribe, or a very strong feeling of loyalty to your tribe
a very strong feeling of loyalty to a political or social group, so that you support them whatever they do

Tribalism, on its face, isn't a bad thing. We are all part of a tribe in one way or another. For example, my service in the Marine Corps could be summed up as me being part of an elite tribe. We are fiercely proud of being Marines, sometimes obnoxiously so. There were many terms we used to describe ourselves, we thought we were better than the Army (because we are, but we won't go there today), we trained harder, and we fought even harder. However, at the end of the day, we knew and believed that the Marine Corps, while special, was part of a grander team in the entire military organization as a whole because we were on America's team.

However, the political/social tribalism group does not work out as we would like. This occurrence is not really a new one; however, it has been exacerbated severely over the last 15 years or so. During President George W. Bush's time in office, a growing part of the Democratic Party began shifting further to the left as the counter to Bush's policies and beliefs. Likewise under President Barack Obama, a growing part of the Republican Party began to shift farther to the right in response to his policies and beliefs. 

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The political shift wasn't a bad or good thing, it's just an observation of what I saw and felt. I felt like I was being sucked into a tribe under Obama, but the difference I had from what I did not see in others, was that I still retained the ability to listen to criticisms, counter viewpoints, or an opposite opinion. I took pride in the fact that I did not let my political and ideological beliefs dictate who my friends or family were. I didn't let "crazy liberals" bother me, nor did I let the crazy "rightwingers" do the same. 

I referred to former President Obama's presidency as the left's kneejerk reaction to former President Bush's presidency. I thought the same way about former President Trump's presidency, except it was the right's kneejerk reaction to Obama's presidency this time. However, the rhetoric used by both sides during Trump's campaign and Hillary Clinton's campaign started to separate us further in my opinion The name-calling got to many of us, but what really got to me was being labeled as a group of people that was unworthy or undesirable to be valued as Americans. Clinton's "basket of deplorable" comment was and continues to be disgusting, and a huge contributor to our current state of affairs when it comes to political discourse. 

Perhaps the worst take was from Hillary Clinton, who is still desperate for relevance. She’s always attacking Trump and has never gotten over her loss to him, even almost six years later. She’s also always gauging what the left is talking about so she can appeal to them. So the woman who called millions of Americans “deplorable” is now comparing Americans to Nazis being “drawn in by Hitler.”

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It was during Trump's campaign and presidency when family and friends cut each other out of people's lives because of their support or lack thereof, for Trump. Personally, in my immediate family, aunts and uncles wrote myself and my brother off completely. But before they did, they made sure to hop on social media and tell us and the world why we were the problem before blocking them and icing them out. Friends walked away from me, too; I was dumbfounded, to be honest, but at the end of the day, I made peace with the fact that I really did not need those kinds of people in my life anyway. 

Did Trump say mean things or put out mean tweets? Yes, he did, and I wasn't really a fan of it, but I wasn't going to base a presidency's worth on mean tweets. It wasn't Trump or his supporters who have been calling liberal people enemies of the state, or terrorists. Now, under President Joe Biden's America, the leftist attacks come from not just him, but his surrogates and supporters. For those of us on the right, we are called everything under the sun -- as long as it ends in -phobia or -cist. Personally, I think it's entertaining. It doesn't bother me as it does to other people. 

The issue I see more of today, however, are some of the supporters of the two main candidates for President today; Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Beyond what Trump or Biden says, their supporters have delved into the absolute worst cases of political tribalism. More and more, if someone has any critique, no matter how big or small, you are immediately accused of being horrible. When someone says anything about Biden, you're labeled an extremist, unloyal, subverting the will of the majority, and more. The same applies to Trump: If you so much as sneeze in his general direction, some of his supporters come out and say you have TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) or you're an unhinged leftist. 

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Is this what we have come to as a country -- where we can't have a simple conversation about a candidate without being castigated or cast out entirely? It seems that some people on both sides have lost the ability to have a conversation and disagree on something, then shake hands and leave it at that. We have lost ourselves in one side's echo chamber and refuse to hear or see an opinion other than our own, and it shows. I would love to go back to the days when I didn't have to worry about having my house vandalized because I had a certain politician's sign in my yard. 

I would love to see a return to some kind of civility where we can all have different opinions, and we aren't trash because we don't like what someone said about their guy or girl. 

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