Are American politics becoming tribal?

There is, and always will be, a temptation to think about politics in Manichean terms. Think the Capulets and the Montagues, the Sharks and the Jets, the Dodgers and the Giants. So it is in American politics with Democrats and Republicans. It is one thing to think of the other contemptuously. It is another thing to use violence against them.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what we saw last night, as protestors acted violently towards Trump supporters at a rally in San Jose:

Donald Trump’s rally in San Jose, California, Thursday night was marred by violence by anti-Trump demonstrators who targeted the event’s attendees and police.

The San Jose Police Department said it “made a few arrests” after the rally, and an officer was assaulted. A department representative said Thursday night, “As of this time, we do not have specific information on the arrests made. There has been no significant property damage reported.”

Trump’s foes surrounded the San Jose Convention Center, where scuffles broke out between them and Trump supporters. Some of the altercations were physical, resulting in bloody injuries…

Some Trump protesters surrounded the car of a presumed Trump supporter as the vehicle was leaving the convention center’s garage. Protesters were shaking the car and smashed its taillight. Protesters also surrounded and banged on police cars.

Rally attendees heading back to their cars were egged, followed and intimidated by some of the protesters. At one point, a large group of demonstrators surrounded a Trump supporter, throwing bottles and spitting at him as he walked back to his vehicle.

Two responses to this violence concerned me. The first response was by Vox editor Emmett Rensin who sent out the following tweets:

WhileVox made the right decision and suspended Rensin for his outrageous comments, unfortunately his statements resonate with far too many on the left.

Which leads me to the second response I became concerned with. It was from San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo,  a Democrat and Hillary supporter,

[Liccardo] criticized Trump for coming to cities and igniting problems that local police departments had to deal with.

“At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign,” Liccardo told The Associated Press by phone.

So someone can’t come into a city because the natives might go bonkers? Do entire cities need to become safe spaces, lest riots occur?

What’s ironic is that such thuggish acts are playing right into Trumps hands.

Inside the rally, Trump was heckled by a protester in the crowd. Trump told the crowd not to worry about it.

“Let him enjoy himself…we need our protesters,” he added. “We’ve got to be nice.”

This message runs contrary to what Trump has said at previous rallies, including one in November when attendees kicked a Black Lives Matter activist (Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”)

This time, Trump told the crowd, “I’ve learned. Don’t hurt him.”

That almost sounds presidential, doesn’t it?

Campaign heads of the leading Democratic candidates have made the right sounds on Twitter about violence not being acceptable. However, I haven’t seen any major Democratic leader correct Liccardo on his remarks.

As the general election approaches between Trump and Hillary (I think), the gap between the red and blue tribes may be widening further. That is because Trump is becoming increasingly identified as the leader of the white tribe. As Rod Dreher writes:

Yes, Trump’s rise, and his rise as a white identity candidate, is frightening. But he didn’t come from nowhere, nor is he solely the creation of conservatism (indeed, he’s barely a conservative at all). I expect Hillary Clinton to use a lot of unity rhetoric this fall. But here’s the thing: if she wins, I fully expect her to govern as someone who treats my own tribe — conservative Christians — as the enemy. That does not mean I will vote for Trump, or will vote at all. I know conservative Christians who fear and loathe Trump so much that they’re going to vote for Hillary, a candidate they believe despises their kind, for the sake of the common good. I know Christians who despise Trump but who are voting for him, or withholding their vote, because they cannot cast a ballot for a candidate (Hillary) they are certain will name Supreme Court justices who will roll back religious liberty.

The point is that the nation is fractured and fracturing. Both political parties have benefited from the ideological divide they have created, and that historical circumstances have created. What’s new about Trump is that for the first time, many whites are seeing themselves the way Democrats and the liberal media have encouraged blacks, Hispanics, and gays to see themselves: as a tribe.

Vox Day, an Alt-Right writer, observes Rod Dreher’s alarm and responds:

This is significant, because it means the cuckservatives are beginning to figure out that their position is not merely a losing one, it is entirely untenable. We’ll know that full-blown tribal politics have become the new normal once even white SJWs like John Scalzi suddenly begin claiming that they were white nationalists all along.

Many of them already are, of course, there is a reason why Scalzi chooses to live in a lily-white Ohio town rather than among the various ethnics he professes to love so much. But for now, they still realize some value from pretending otherwise.

This is a very positive development for America, because America is, and always has been, a white Anglo nation. The fact that the political entity has been invaded and that political citizenship has been granted to anyone and everyone with a pulse merely means that the nation has submitted and been oppressed, it doesn’t mean that the nation has been changed in any material manner. Playing word games with definitions is the hallmark of those who stand irretrievably opposed to history, science, and reality, and they always wind up losing in the end.

Those who decry “Trumpism” have it entirely backwards. Trump is merely riding the wave of the rise of the birth of a generic white American identity, which like all such identities, is the result of external pressure rather than internal conviction. And that is why it does not matter what he says or does, because unlike so many of his predecessors on both sides of the political aisle, Donald Trump has aligned himself with the white American tribe.

It is long past time for white Americans to follow the lead of the blacks, the Jews, and the Asians, and allow themselves to be guided solely by the principle: is it good for the whites? Serve the nation, not the empire. (Original emphasis.)

Day’s last paragraph is the most telling. For white Americans to succeed, it must reflect the mirror image of the tribe it wishes to defeat. A Girardian could not have described the terms for victory more starkly. Therefore, the table appears to be set so that the general election will reflect an existential battle between the multiculturalist tribe and the resurgent white tribe.

As a Christian libertarian who thinks about relationships in Girardian terms, this is a very troubling development. It would be wise for everyone to step back, take a deep breath, and ask themselves if this is really the battle they wish to fight. It would also be wise for those on one side to ask themselves why the other side acts the way they do. Better yet, they can ask their opponents what they’re thinking. Conversation and persuasion are far more effective than brute force.

Unfortunately, all one needs to do is quickly scan social media and see that the battle lines have been drawn by the “fighters”, pathetic as they might be, themselves. Neither side shows any intent of puling back, lest they come across as weak. Unless something changes drastically in the near future, this election will be the most ugly and violent since 1968.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!