View Poll Results: How much tribalism is there in American politics

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  • People generally reach independent conclusions on issues

    2 9.52%
  • A person's surroundings influence their views, although there are many exceptions

    4 19.05%
  • People generally gravitate toward the view their "tribe" holds regardless of evidence

    15 71.43%
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Thread: Tribalism in American politics

  1. #1
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    Tribalism in American politics

    How much tribalism do you think there is in American politics? Meaning, how much do you think people change their opinions to match whatever they think they "should" believe, based on what their party/church/community/family/friends believe?

    It seems to me that this is how most people form virtually ALL of their political views, rather than thinking for themselves. It seems very strange that the people who oppose bellicose foreign policy are almost invariably the same people who support abortion, oppose major changes to education and social security, favor gay marriage, tolerate higher taxes (especially on the rich), and oppose guns. Likewise for people with the opposite views. As far as I can tell, there are no common philosophical threads running through all of these views, nor even any practical worldview that would lead a certain type of person to inherently agree with them all.

    This leads me to the conclusion that most people really don't put any thought into their views...they simply convince themselves that they believe which ever view they feel that someone like them is "supposed" to hold. And I think this tribalism in our politics is particularly strong among people who follow politics closely. What do you think?
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  2. #2
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Why would I spend thousands of hours pouring over govt budgets, theories on economics, national security papers, etc to arrive at well thought out opinions and ideas when the net practical effect of me doing so is basically zilch?
    The only area related to these things that I can actually have some influence on is how my kith and kin see my views. That's more likely to produce a return for my efforts.

    Rational Ignorance
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    I may be wrong.

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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    How much tribalism do you think there is in American politics? Meaning, how much do you think people change their opinions to match whatever they think they "should" believe, based on what their party/church/community/family/friends believe?

    It seems to me that this is how most people form virtually ALL of their political views, rather than thinking for themselves. It seems very strange that the people who oppose bellicose foreign policy are almost invariably the same people who support abortion, oppose major changes to education and social security, favor gay marriage, tolerate higher taxes (especially on the rich), and oppose guns. Likewise for people with the opposite views. As far as I can tell, there are no common philosophical threads running through all of these views, nor even any practical worldview that would lead a certain type of person to inherently agree with them all.

    This leads me to the conclusion that most people really don't put any thought into their views...they simply convince themselves that they believe which ever view they feel that someone like them is "supposed" to hold. And I think this tribalism in our politics is particularly strong among people who follow politics closely. What do you think?
    Friedrich Nietzsche wrote extensively on the subject in the Genealogy of Morals. Morality of the masters, who have the psychological capacity to develop their own goals and values, and the morality of the slaves, who form emotional dependencies on the goals and values of the group they identify themselves with, because, in broad terms, they don't have the creativity or strength of will to meet reality head on and come up with their own response to its challenges.

    The instinct to seek self-affirmation in the consensus of the group derives from the fact that tribal solidarity was more instrumental to human survival than realism or truth in prehistoric times.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 08-08-12 at 07:42 PM.
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Pretty rampant in my immediate circle of acquaintances, most likely due to the general lack of interest in relevant issues among young folks in particular. Therefore, an isolated facebook conversation regarding conspiracy theories of some sort, or the occasional cable news program is the extent of actual discussion or critique of policy and philosophy.

  5. #5
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Hare View Post
    Pretty rampant in my immediate circle of acquaintances, most likely due to the general lack of interest in relevant issues among young folks in particular. Therefore, an isolated facebook conversation regarding conspiracy theories of some sort, or the occasional cable news program is the extent of actual discussion or critique of policy and philosophy.
    please don't go onemale on us.

  6. #6
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon W. Moon View Post
    Why would I spend thousands of hours pouring over govt budgets, theories on economics, national security papers, etc to arrive at well thought out opinions and ideas when the net practical effect of me doing so is basically zilch?
    The only area related to these things that I can actually have some influence on is how my kith and kin see my views. That's more likely to produce a return for my efforts.

    Rational Ignorance
    Rational Irrationality
    I agree that it's often not worth it for the average person to spend a lot of time focusing on politics. However, it seems to me that people who are heavily involved in politics are even MORE tribalistic than people who aren't. People who don't follow that closely tend to have wishy-washy, non-ideological political views, whereas people actively interested in politics know exactly where their "tribe" stands on any given issue, and often adjust their own views to fit in. And once they've done this, they will fully convince themselves that they believe this and argue forcefully for their new position.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I agree that it's often not worth it for the average person to spend a lot of time focusing on politics. However, it seems to me that people who are heavily involved in politics are even MORE tribalistic than people who aren't. People who don't follow that closely tend to have wishy-washy, non-ideological political views, whereas people actively interested in politics know exactly where their "tribe" stands on any given issue, and often adjust their own views to fit in. And once they've done this, they will fully convince themselves that they believe this and argue forcefully for their new position.
    The best part is the unthinking belief that having large numbers of people support your view lends credibility to it.
    If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

    St. Benedict

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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    A lot of American politics is dominated by tribalism; most people are sheep. They don't care of anything in the way of authentic independent thought; it goes against their old instincts. As long as people keep thinking in such a manner, I remain skeptical of how this world can continue to progress. Granted there are people who don't think in a tribal manner, but they may be few and far between (or they may be the ones running the show).

  9. #9
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    Re: Tribalism in American politics

    I would have voted for the last one but I think there are enough excepts still to warrant the second choice. But I believe there are two many who simply follow their tribe.

    AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: I think the world vests too much power, certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.

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