Reich and the Tribes

I thought I’d move this above the comments section since it’s been a while since I attacked a liberal hack and I need to keep my claws sharp.

Liberal hack and diminutive Marxist Robert Reich, last seen in this space lamenting that the Republicans might use this “little known” procedure called reconciliation to do stuff, has a piece up about the collapse of the GOP. Now, never mind that this fractured warring collapsing party now holds a significant majority of states houses, governor’s mansions, the House, the Senate and, after November, possibly the White House. No, according to Reich, the Party is completely falling apart, careening toward destruction because it is being torn apart by six warring tribes.

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism.

Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.

And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their well being are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate.

This is as opposed to the Democrats, who … want to divide the whole damned country into warring tribes: men against women, black against white, gay against straight, rich against poor. The Democrats have opposed bailouts, subsidies and special tax loopholes by … creating more of them. The Democrats opposed gay marriage until about last week. The Democrats gleefully embrace anti-GMO horse manure. And it’s not like the Democrats lack for for billionaires and rent-seekers. Those guys’ chosen candidate in Hillary Clinton.

Look, any functional political party is going to cover a broad range of political philosophies — from Rand Paul’s libertarians to Lindsey Graham’s neocons to John Kasich’s moderates. Eventually, those factions find a candidate that is acceptable to all of them. The GOP functioned this way for decades, uniting free-market libertarians, staunch anti-communists and the Religious Right. This is not weird or unusual. It takes someone of Reich’s unusual hacking skills to turn it into something sinister.

Notice that in his paradigm, none of the GOP factions is any damned good. Every single one is motivated by base desires: greed, hatred, ignorance, fear, racism. There is not a single redeeming feature in that entire list.

Even assuming he’s right about the factions (and he isn’t), why not see them the way they see themselves?

  • Evangelicals concerned about the decay of our culture and morality.
  • Libertarians opposed to the gradual encroachment of government into our civil liberties.
  • Free market types who oppose crony capitalism and worry that no one has a real chance anymore.
  • Corporate and wall street titans trying to protect their industries from regulatory destruction.
  • Billionaires tired of being demonized for being successful in life.
  • White working class people who’ve seen jobs disappear and wages crash.

What’s more, there is a lot of overlap between those groups. This can be seen when you try to peg Reich’s tribes to specific candidates. Who is the candidate of evangelicals? It might be Cruz. Or maybe Carson. But Trump draws a lot of support among evangelicals too (in fact, Trump’s support is a lot broader than most pundits want to admit). Libertarians don’t really have a candidate anymore, but Cruz and Rubio have occasionally moved toward civil liberties All the candidates are in favor of the free market and deregulation. And where do the neocons fit into that?

Even when I was a Republican, I didn’t agree with everyone in the Republican tent. And if I ever go back to the GOP, I won’t agree with everyone. That’s OK. People vote for a party because they think it has more good points than bad, not because it’s perfect.

And let’s not imagine for one second that Robert Reich really wants a functional GOP. What Robert Reich wants is a liberal GOP and socialist Democratic Party. These “tribes” appear to be tribes to him because the ideas of religious values, free markets and secure borders are so alien to him. The Republican debates sound like the chattering of barbary apes to someone as lofty as Reich.

Comments are closed.

  1. richtaylor365

    Very reasoned well thought out post, Hal. The stupidity of bifurcating these groups is further reinforced when you consider that the interests of  these groups overlap, e.g. evangelicals and libertarians both want to be left alone and have government mind their own business, free market types, billionaires and white working families (really, all families) all want the free markets to work as they were intended, to reward the truly industrious and not just the special interest groups that have the blessing of the king makers in Washington. Also factor in that interests ebb and flow depending on the times; tax reform, immigration, national security, balanced budget, regulatory reform, all these jockey up and down the wish list of all these these “tribes”.

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  2. CM

    Apologies for the lack of response to your post Hal, I’m at home with sick kids today so finally have some time while The Cartoon Network takes good care of them.

    Liberal hack and diminutive Marxist Robert Reich

    Also, Michael Moore is fat!

    Bit of an Alex start there Hal.

    Now, never mind that this fractured warring collapsing party now holds a significant majority of states houses, governor’s mansions, the House, the Senate and, after November, possibly the White House. No, according to Reich, the Party is completely falling apart, careening toward destruction because it is being torn apart by six warring tribes.

    Well for a start there are plenty of conservatives arguing that the Party is falling apart, it’s certainly not just Reich. Secondly, what’s happening now doesn’t affect that fact that Republicans won previous elections. Although the Tea Party certainly fractured the Party to some extent, albeit not to the extent seen now. Perhaps they demonstrated that tribes could actually make a difference.

    This is as opposed to the Democrats, who … want to divide the whole damned country into warring tribes: men against women, black against white, gay against straight, rich against poor. The Democrats have opposed bailouts, subsidies and special tax loopholes by … creating more of them. The Democrats opposed gay marriage until about last week. The Democrats gleefully embrace anti-GMO horse manure. And it’s not like the Democrats lack for for billionaires and rent-seekers. Those guys’ chosen candidate in Hillary Clinton.

    This appears to support the final paragraph you’re responding to. If the Dems are all in sync on these matters, then it is indeed ‘as opposed’. Hillary and Bernie have separate campaigns, but they don’t appear to be operating from entirely separate political organisations. Often it’s difficult to discern that the Republican debates are between people who belong to the same Party.

    Eventually, those factions find a candidate that is acceptable to all of them.

    Except I’ve read over and over and over again that the Republicans keep picking shitty ‘safe’ (i.e. moderate) Presidential candidates and enough is enough. Clearly finding an acceptable candidate is getting more difficult as the pressure mounts to actually win. That so many Republican candidates stayed in the race with campaign structures and funding in place demonstrates how unwilling these factions are to fold and support someone else. They’re selling out their ‘tribe’, because it’s distinct.

    This is not weird or unusual. It takes someone of Reich’s unusual hacking skills to turn it into something sinister.

    Then how and why are there are plenty of conservatives reaching very similar conclusions?

    Notice that in his paradigm, none of the GOP factions is any damned good. Every single one is motivated by base desires: greed, hatred, ignorance, fear, racism. There is not a single redeeming feature in that entire list.

    The Republican Party certainly do have some serious perception problems. They conducted an indepth study on this after Romney lost, and have apparently just ignored the results, or are just weak.

    Even assuming he’s right about the factions (and he isn’t), why not see them the way they see themselves?

    Possibly because the tribes do such an appalling job of explaining it that way, presumably because they’re so desperate to consolidate tribal support (they’re not seemingly interested in ‘growing’ their base, particularly if they’ll be the first to be cast aside for being too ‘moderate’).

    What’s more, there is a lot of overlap between those groups.

    I think the point is that any overlap appears to be, more than ever, far less important than the tribal elements.

    These “tribes” appear to be tribes to him because the ideas of religious values, free markets and secure borders are so alien to him.

    But those have been Republican ideas for a long while. Just as already-elected Republicans don’t lose office because of the current situation in the Party, and just as Reich has presumably been short all his life.

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  3. blameme

    I’d agree that the party is fractured, but I would disagree with the negative view that Reich takes of every tribe. It’s as if he views any conservative position as sinister or evil – which is a way to demonize your opponent. I don’t think liberals are evil, or what they wish for is terrible. I do believe that often their methods to get there are shortsighted or actually will create the opposite of what they want, but I don’t think it is because they are the devil incarnate. Which based on Reich’s viewpoint, he positions every single “want” from the worst possible viewpoint – which is lazy and frankly undermines any real discourse between the opposing sides.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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  4. CM

     

    I would disagree with the negative view that Reich takes of every tribe

    Are his descriptions only describing one aspect of each tribe? Or is it that the descriptions are even wrong, notwithstanding that.

     I don’t think liberals are evil, or what they wish for is terrible.

    You’re in a distinct minority here then.

    I do believe that often their methods to get there are shortsighted or actually will create the opposite of what they want, but I don’t think it is because they are the devil incarnate.

    I think similarly of conservatives/libertarians. Unless there is information to the contrary, I want to assume their intentions are good.

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  5. ilovecress

    Blameme – your comment actually got me thinking, and come up with a theory of sorts, and it ties in with some of the arguing on this blog…. So hear me out…

     I think that you might actually both be right. But the shift has been in the narrative, and this has contributed to the Trump GOP revolution.

      “I don’t think liberals are evil, or what they wish for is terrible.”

    But that’s not how things are actually talked about. Alex has recent post titled ‘ this is by design’, and certainly I’ve seen the narrative turn from ‘let’s argue about gun control’ to Obama is evil and the left are all ‘idiotic collectivist retards’. (And this isn’t something that’s confined to Alex, or this blog, or even conservative blogs – see the Reich article)

     So why does this matter? Well I think it matters because the legitimate positions that conservatives have been played to in terms of those base desires in order to rile up fervor from a dormant voter base who are looking for something to vote against. SO the legitimate concerns have been hijacked by rhetoric.

     There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about the change to our culture and morals. But the base has been whipped up into believing that allowing gay marriage is a fundamental attack on their way of life and is to be stopped by any means.

     There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about the role of Government in private lives. But the base has been whipped up into believing that Obama wants to take your guns, and you don’t need to pay grazing rights and the Liberals are secretly trying to subjugate you.

     There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about the appropriate levels of regulation for business, against the ability for business to be agile. But the base has been whipped up into Government or business, you can’t have both – and the Liberals secretly want to enforce collectivism.

     There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about immigration and wage stagnation, but the base has been whipped up into believing that they’d all have more money if we built a wall to keep the Mexicans out. The liberal plan is to extend welfare as far as they can to buy the votes and stay in power.

     Now all these concerns may be separate and may overlap – but essentially they all share the same DNA – “I’m angry that no one has sorted this yet, because they’re not strong enough.”

     So when the base is whipped up into this frenzy of hatred and fervor, and Cruz tries to outline his foreign policy ideas – Trump wins simply by shouting “We’ll kill them”. Rubio’s record in the immigration debate works against him, because Trump just says “We’ll build a wall.”

     Me and you probably don’t agree on, say, immigration. But I don’t think that Operation Wetback 2 gets the outcomes either the left or the right want. If you think the other side is evil in intent, then burning it all to the ground sounds like a good option. And if you take your party with it, then so be it. It wasn’t working anyway.

     I don’t think this is a conservative thing either. To a certain degree, it explains Corbyn in the UK, and I guess Sanders popularity to some extent.

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  6. blameme

    I won’t quote on this site as it would take forever, but I appreciate both you and CM outlining your thoughts.

    The frustrating thing to me is, I see what you see (the base being whipped up), but I see it from the other side. I see legitimate discussions on each point you lined up above, but the liberals base is riled against us due to being told (as an example) – that the conservatives “cling to their religion and guns.” Or that because we want smaller government we must be bought off by “big oil” or “big business” os some other boogey man.

    Maybe we just believe that more government by default equals more inefficiency, zero tolerance (or intelligence), heavy handedness and uneven rules for everyone.

    We kind of get both sides of the coin. But, in reality I think our differences are not that stark. I think the method we choose to provide more opportunity, equality and freedom is where most differences hide.

    But, each side plays to the evilness of the other, reducing debate to shouting and the whole thing blows up.

    I’ve had my differences with CM, but really less on what he believes versus how he states it. And, I’ve had the same issue with Alex. I don’t think either are out to get me, and both come from a place of wanting the best for themselves and their families and friends.

    I’m sure I am naive. But Id’ rather be that way than cynical all the time.

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  7. ilovecress

    I absolutely agree – it does happen on both sides of the debate. The exact same thing has happened to a lesser degree to the Labour party in the UK. (And I guess there’s a Sanders correlation too)

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  8. CM

    I think ultimately it requires people in power (be it politician or media pundit) to take responsibility for what they say and do. It starts from there. However that isn’t going to happen, so I don’t think there is anything that will change.

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  9. CM

    …the split in the GOP isn’t merely about a single personality. Trump represents just the most pronounced of a spiderweb of ideological and demographic fault lines that are increasingly difficult to paper over. As Joel Kotkin put it in a column for the Orange County Register, the Republican Party now “consists of interest groups that so broadly dislike each other that they share little common ground.”

    – Jonah Goldberg

     

    http://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2016/03/23/its-the-end-of-the-line-for-gop-as-we-know-it-n2137865/page/2

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