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?