The case for tribalism in politics

The case for tribalism in politics

Conor Friedersdorf is out with an interesting post that illustrates the degree of tribalism which still exists in politics — and how failing to belong to a tribe leaves one vulnerable.

In case you missed it, Friedersdorf’s piece examines Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments regarding how the talk radio host reflexively defended Clarence Thomas in the early 90s — at least partly in order to deprive the left of claiming a conservative scalp (Limbaugh said he assumed Thomas was innocent, an opinion I share.)

During the segment, Limbaugh juxtaposed his visceral defense of Thomas then with the lukewarm, qualified defense of Chris Christie coming from conservatives now. And, not surprisingly, the implication is that a person’s ideological loyalty to the cause — not their perceived guilt or innocence — is what earns a person protection. At least, initially.

“If there were a fervent ideological foundation,” Limbaugh said, “if there was a substantive reason of believing in Governor Christie, then whether he lied wouldn’t matter.  They’d be out there defending him left and right just to make sure the Democrats don’t get away with this.”

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