Kurtz Sees Tribalism Defining Our Politics

It's an astute observation.

Image Credit: Fox News/YouTube

Howard Kurtz of FNC is one of the best political and media analysts in the nation. He’s concerned, as we have also noted, about the triumph of extremist politics on both sides of the political fence. With Republicans it’s not policy extremes, it’s a fanatical cult of personality that brooks no opposition to their self-appointed messiah figure. Democrats are so far left on policy these days a Bill Clinton Democrat would feel as if on another planet. It would be advantageous for the American body politic to rid ourselves of these rabid leeches and once again return to reasonable adult leadership. Kurtz continues…

Kurtz: “The flame of argument over police tactics burns more brightly than ever. When Maxine Waters threw kerosene on that fire by declaring that protesters must ‘get more confrontational’ if the ‘guilty’ Chauvin gets off, the parties predictably squared off. Nancy Pelosi said the 82-year-old congresswoman has nothing to apologize for, while Kevin McCarthy moved for her to be censured.

When Donald Trump said things that seemed incendiary—telling the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’—Democrats said he was inciting violence and Republicans called that absurd. But when Joe Biden said he prayed for the ‘right’ verdict in the Floyd case—even with the jury sequestered—wasn’t he acting as egregiously in proclaiming the innocence of Michael Flynn and Roger Stone?

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It’s no secret that partisan politics has rarely been more polarized. We see it in the immigration debate, we see it in the Covid debate, we even see it in the vaccine debate. We see it with those who still believe the opposition stole the election from Trump, and with those who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. We see it with those who view Biden as the second coming of FDR.

But politics has always been a contact sport. Most troubling of all is the way our national disputes have severed friendships and even caused trouble in marriages (see George and Kellyanne). I’ve lost track of how many people I have seen dump their former pals on Facebook. This may have been exacerbated during the Trump years, but it’s hardly letting up now.

Nate Cohn has an analysis in the New York Times about this form of ‘sectarianism,’ where each side sees the other as essentially evil. And there’s polling to back this up. Beyond political polarization, the Times piece says, the two parties have simultaneously sorted along racial, religious, educational, generational and geographic lines. Partisanship has become a ‘mega-identity,’ in the words of the political scientist Lilliana Mason.

But I believe both sides have become increasingly tribal in their approach to public life. Bill Clinton railed against the ‘politics of personal destruction’. But the sectarian forces are proving to be too powerful, and on that score we are all losers.”

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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