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Tribalism in US Politics

We in America tend to think of tribalism as a third world thing. Something that occurs in Africa and Asia and the Caribbean, but not in America. But tribalism is a human phenomenon. It is not peculiar to any nation, or geographic region, or any race. It may be defined as a set of beliefs, a body of fears, a convincement of threats, real or imagined, a preferred style, a closing of ranks.

Tribalism is never a constructive thing. It does not ipso facto make a people better or more productive than a comparative other group in a nation or in another nation. Tribalism does however lead to internal conflict, civil war as in Ruanda, and in wars between nations as in Europe.

The greatest danger when tribalism rears its ugly head is the capture of the tribe’s psyche by an unscrupulous politician. If a leader can tap into the tribe’s fears or aspirations and identify and expand them to the point where he becomes a carbon copy of their mindset, his expressions and policy provisions are in sync with their thoughts, until he becomes as irrational as the tribe, and so credible to the tribe that it will follow him lemming like to their mutual destruction and to the destruction of the pillars of the State.

In the third world the cognoscenti have not found a way to handle the local leader who masters the skill of tapping into the tribe’s fears, and in most cases, they have been so outmaneuvered that they lose the political fight with him and concede.

We thought on January the sixth 2021 that there could be no denial that the attack on the Congress of the United States of America was at least an insurrection. Most of us saw the event unfold live on our local television sets and were outraged. We were shocked that there could exist a body of people in an educated and aware country like ours that could be so unaware of the legal constraints, as to attack the citadel of our democracy. Unless they felt they had cover, and the Constitution did not matter.

A significant body of the general public seemed convinced that there was an attempted coup or certainly an insurrection to stop the constitutional presentation of the Electoral College tally of it’s votes to Congress on the 2020 US Presidential Election.

Congress expressed it’s outrage that such a thing could happen in America, and we all saw congressional members being herded around by Security Staff into places of potential safety. We saw an enraged mob overcoming security, breaking doors, and windows, scaling walls, vandalizing offices, searching for members of Congress, and so out of control and fired up that we are left to wonder what the mob might have done to members of Congress if they had cornered any of them.

Some members of Congress were emboldened to blame the President for encouraging the crowd, even Mitch McConnell that bastion of Republican obstructionism and expert on bar the door ism, to most observers’ surprise, blamed President Trump for encouraging the actions of the attackers of the Capitol buildings.

Now the rubber hits the road. Reasonable public observers expected that the House would pass a Bill with bipartisan support and send it to the Senate seeking passage to authorize the establishment of a bipartisan Body to determine and report on the circumstances and conditions surrounding the January sixth, 2021 attack on Congress.

But the Bill passed the House with only 35 Republican Members in support, and Mitch McConnell says he is not going to vote for it in the Senate, and it is not expected to get the ten or eleven Republican Senators votes to pass in the Senate.

What has caused this almost embarrassing change of stance by Republican members of Congress? The 2022 Elections of course. One third of Senators and all members of the House must stand for reelection in November 2022. They are all deathly afraid of the power of Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is one of those uncanny politicians who has risen to tribal leadership, so much so that he has morphed into the tribe, and it hangs on his every word. The tribe believes him implicitly. He can do no wrong in their opinion, and if he does not approve your candidacy you will not get Republican Party support or enough votes to even win in the primaries.

Republicans almost to a man are bowing at the altar of Donald Trump. Like so many third world politicians they are sacrificing principles for expediency. They can see that by supporting the Cult of the Leader, they will be breaking down the pillars of our democracy, but they are not yet demonstrating the self will to curb their greed for office.


Irvine Weekes.





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