Saturday, May 27, 2006

OOGA BOOGA! My tribe better, beat up your tribe!

Chris Bowers at MyDD has a series of articles on tribal identity and the American voter. His basic argument is that voters vote their tribal identity, based on factors such as race, religion, and gender. Socioeconomic factors, such as income, union affiliation, and education play a lesser role in determining a voters behavior. This shouldn't be too surprising, but it is still a little depressing that a lot of us are  basically waving our flags and saying "hooray for our side". (And what is this blog but a small but perfect example of that?)
But Bowers paints a more interesting picture than two rival tribes beating their chests, though. This is from the most interesting of the articles I linked to above:
One side considers itself the "us" in a battle between "us vs. them," while the other side is trying to destroy the notion of both "us" and "them" in order to end the battle. One coalition wins when the clash of civilizations is being fought, since its existence is predicted upon at least the visualization (if not the realization) of identities that fight such a battle, while the other coalition wins when the clash of civilizations ends or is at least sputtering, since its very existence is predicated upon the possibility of a world without "civilization identities."
The good news is that the camp most married to tribal identity is eventually demographically doomed if it can't base itself around something other than being white, male, conservative, and Christian(ist).
Digby comments on this subject and Bowers' article here. He poses an interesting question:
If you could write a country song about Blue State identity, what would the lyrics say?


Anonymous Justin said...

I dunno, I think it's disingenuous to say that our side is entirely against tribalism. Tribes are complex things.

5:46 AM, May 28, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

I agree that "Tribe Left" is not completely, or even mostly, anti-tribal. When I look at the Christianist Right in this country, I get the same feeling of "other", "alien", "threat" that they seem to get when they look at a gay person, an atheist, or anyone having too much fun of any kind. And I want to rally "our side" and defeat "their side" in the political arena. But I do think the Left is less obsessed with the "other" than the Right. I think the right requires an "other" to maintain the fear-based authoritarianism that is at the root of its appeal.

7:52 AM, May 28, 2006  
Anonymous Justin said...

That is all true, but what I had in mind was tribes in the more traditional sense.

I remember once Brendan made a comment about how people will use different adjectives to describe their own culture vs. others, and you chimed in with "Oh, you mean like 'They're superstitious and pluralistic. We're spiritual and family oriented.'" (Interesting how "pluralistic" has become a term we use to describe ourself now thouh). Sometimes "fostering tribalism" can be another way of saying "promoting diversity." The Left certainly encourages certain tribes to have a fierce sense of identity and value. Just not the sort of tribe that is typical of the Right, as you say.

I have a certain investment in this issue, actually, because of how this "tribalism" vs. "multi-culturalism" issue seems to affect "my tribe" these days.

2:45 AM, May 29, 2006  

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