Tribal Warfare in Anderson County by Eric Keller



The Republican Tax Proposal hit the streets yesterday.  As several notable economists have noted, there are several pieces in there Democrats would like.  Much of the plan- we do not.  It is a sizable tax cut for corporations and very wealthy while the cut is paid for by the median wage-earner.  Small businesses suffer as well which is why their lobbyist group is against this plan.  But, that is not the important piece here.  Tribal warfare is the main point of this brief essay.

Political scientist have noted the transformation of partisanship (individual identification with a political party) from disagreement-compromise to a winner-take-all model.  Partisanship is now a deep emotional attachment to a party which transcends the normal give & take of political discourse. 

For many- the other party is not just wrong- but is a fundamental threat to the American Ideal as they understand it.  Thus, compromise is seen as surrender and ideology becomes a litmus test to determine the "in-group" and "out-group".  A good example is the Anderson County Republican Party purity test that is required for all Republican candidates.  In fact, Republicans, by the very nature of their party, have advantages and disadvantages with this model of partisanship.

The Republican Party, both nationally and in Anderson County, is predominately white (percentage-wise) while the Democratic Party (both nationally & in Anderson County) is more diverse.  This diversity requires a more open stance which degrades the hyper-partisanship seen in today's politics.  Diversity, by definition, means different people, different ideas, and different actions all come together for better political outcomes.

Also, Democrats traditionally believe government should and can work for the better good of all.  Republicans tend to think the opposite, the less government the better.  Again, this systemic difference means Democrats tend to want compromise while Republicans tend to want purity.  Democrats try to get policies to work even if they compromise with Republicans.  Republicans do not compromise.  Health care plans and tax proposals are all done without Democratic input or votes.  That does not change when we look here in Anderson County.  Terry Frank is still sitting on 40+ resolutions passed by the County Commissioners.  As a Republican, she will not even entertain signing them.  Gridlock is the result.

One party is more open to compromise to make things better, more open to diversity in all areas, more open to immigration which strengthens America, more open to different ways of thinking, more open to new ideas and concepts, more open to globalization's benefits, more open to collective solutions on climate change, more open...

The other party is not.  So why be in a party which closes doors so the in-group is more pure?


Eric KellerComment