Will Tribalism Kill Our Democracy?
Our species has an inherent requirement for belonging and social connection. It is in part handed down through our DNA over time. Once upon a time, we relied on one another for strength and we may well need to once again.
Do you remember high school years? The years that we grew into adulthood? Do you recall the feeling of being disconnected from the different social groups: populars, jocks, floaters, good-ats, ‘fine arts’ kids, the brains, normals, and now the stoners (not during my time, which ages me)? Psychologists say that the formation of these social groups can make one feel influential. Has this perception of power continued to be passed on in our lives?
Once groups become close-knit, they are limited in their exploration of new information. This can explain why misinformation is accepted as fact. The belief in fake news as truth is evident when considering social media and the number of likes. As normal. Once individuals perceive information as normal, they no longer question it. Subsequently, the group's lower ranked members begin mimicking the higher ranked ones, like Donald Trump.
Those outside the tribe, see his behavior as abnormal but not by those within. As the group's leader, he sends the expected message. He is normal. He will save us.
The media used to play a significant role in overseeing facts and reporting them fairly, with integrity. This enables members of a tribe to cultivate personal thought patterns. In the past, reporters assisted us in gaining a wider perspective and analyzing information. Regrettably, our connection to humanity as a whole has been severed. We've all split into tribes that are easier to control.
Networks have sprung up and/or developed their narrative based on the tribe from which they acquire better viewership. Those ratings equate to money and power. And once in the power realm, they are not likely to go back in time to where the news was our nation’s sense of balance. They were a tribe of their own as a whole. Not today. They have become followers of a tribe.
Trump is a master of tribalism. To maintain control, he fosters discord and creates polarization. His loyal followers line up in formation. As a result, it leads to more division and conflict between tribes. And now we have most people, aligned in tribes, coming from a fear-based way of perceptions. Fear is the root of anger, hate, and victimization. Fear of change is a part of the status quo. A tribe will eventually fall apart if we continue with this level of dysfunction.
Nevertheless, tribalism can have positive aspects. There are good reasons, like acknowledging all that we have accomplished. The force of collective energy propelled the country to fight for democracy successfully. Our beloved democracy was once the sole reason why our country was a powerhouse, and as a proud citizen, I am reminded of that. It was our strength.
What is a solution? A powerful leader, on par with Trump, is needed to transcend division and tribalism. They exist. I've witnessed their presence. I witnessed them and have belief in them. It is necessary for them to step up and guide a community of individuals who share the same goal of restoring harmony in our lives. Someone who can unite tribes instead of dividing them. We need someone to remind us of our commonalities.
Recognize and appreciate differences. Including both extremes, the far left and right. Value is found in all voices. We need to elevate ourselves and drown out the negativity. Not to deny it. It contains truth. It requires courage to acknowledge it. Comprehend and collaborate to elevate it towards a greater purpose.
Tribalism is the loyalty of groups to one another, regardless of circumstances. Tribalism is wrongly accepted as human nature. Those who have the strength of mind and courage can stop this attachment.
Patriotism is what unites us. Love and devotion to one's country go hand in hand. Our constitution is not flawless. However, its achievements are overshadowed by our focus on them. We endured a revolutionary war to unify a diverse population into a national identity. A unifying identity that brings Americans together under a banner of ideas. Astonishingly, it managed to succeed.
George Washington warned of the danger of political parties being used to undermine democracy by unscrupulous individuals. Political parties have had an impact on our lives and continue to shape our character and personal identity. What drives individual thinkers to display unwavering commitment to their political party?
The positive news is that the negative effects of tribalism can be undone.