Gone are the days of deep and meaningful political discourse. Most of us get our news from highly politicized sources with a clearly staked-out a political viewpoint informing and coloring all content. If you agree with the political viewpoint of the source you’re reading, you’ll likely agree with the content. If you disagree with the political viewpoint, you’ll likely stop reading and move on to more agreeable content. Bottom line: find your tribe and stick with it; no need to reason with people from another tribe because they just don’t get it.
We feel safe having real political discussions within our tribe, but political discussions with other tribes are fraught with danger and are best avoided. She’s a Trump supporter. How can we be friends? He’s got a Socialist bumpersticker on his car. I don’t want anything to do with him! It’s a common problem in our world where we have lost the art of reasoned discussion. Why have we lost it? Because it’s hard and requires real thinking, patience, focus and effort. It requires us to suppress deeply engrained instincts about the Other. It’s so much easier to just call the Other Side names (aka the good old ad hominem attack) and slap a label on them or question their motives, intelligence or loyalty to the Constitution. And then move on.
It’s not just a problem that pops up in casual conversations at the checkout line at Walmart. It happens at the highest levels of our political institutions for all too see. Politicians on both sides of the spectrum push for more political tribalism because they rightly perceive that it’s in their short-term personal political advantage.
The problem is, in the long-run, democracies are built on dialog. As we find ourselves increasingly in a world where real political dialog is no longer possible, the future of the Republic is indeed in danger.