Commenting on politics and culture is my job. My job is part of my life. Ergo, for me, politics is a part of my life — just one part of it. Like you, how I vote, or what I believe the government should or should not be doing, does not dictate who I am as a person. I’m not Courtney, conservative Republican woman. I’m Courtney, what follows after my name changes. There is no order to what I am. No BuzzFeed article explaining the merits of me.
Yet it seems, at least on the internet, we’ve oversimplified everyone into listicles. With those listicles determining to which tribe, or tribes, we belong. Anyone outside of our tribe is one of them. An outsider not to be trusted. A member of the opposing team. To be fought, beaten and defeated.
The concept is better known as tribalism and it’s ripping us apart. The largest enabler of tribalism has to be social media where we can curate our groups, friends, and news sources based on interests, thus creating echo chambers. Combine our echo chambers with the power of selective anonymity, and the false bravado provided by the virtual distance of the internet, and people will throw flame emojis at each other over the dumbest things, then wage digital wars against anyone who opposes them politically.
You may find it hypocritical of me, as a political blogger, to cast tribalism in such a harsh light when one component of my job is to call out the left, to illustrate how leftism is damaging the fabric of our society, then shake my finger at those arguing so harshly over politics. It’s a fair point. Except I’m not suggesting we stop arguing politics. I’m not suggesting we stop calling out the opposition, or that we lay down our arms to join hands and form a love train.
It’s natural for human beings to form tribes. It’s natural to pick a side, to fight for it, and fight against the opposition.
But politics isn’t everything. Nor should it be. What frustrated me, and probably many of you, with the NFL kneeling for the anthem, was turning football, one of the last remaining refuges from politics, into a political spectacle. Instead of having team pride, sorting ourselves into tribes based on which team we cheered on every weekend, suddenly we had politics thrust upon us.
There’s a time and a place for politics, and it’s never all the time. It’s wrong when media makes every waking moment about politics, and it’s wrong for us, as individuals, to make every living moment about politics. Or what sometimes seems like every waking moment.
But that’s where we are: all politics, all the time. 24-hour news cycles. Constant political posts on Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram. Social media overlords like Zuckerberg and Jack over at Twitter, sipping the leftist Kool-aid from a Soros-made snifter. Half-witted celebrities lowering their wit to one quarter as they rage about Trump from some stage of award-winning circle jerks.
It’s not a mystery we’ve become so politically tribal. We somehow need to break out of it. We can start by putting politics in its place, and not allowing it to seep deeper into our days, tainting our time, relationships and ultimately our lives. And when politics is thrust upon us, as the NFL did last year, we turn it off.
Then we should stop assigning others, or ourselves, into tribes. Which requires looking at people as more than just their political affiliation. Holding ideas higher than someone’s ability to own the other side. Prioritizing the right thing to do because it’s the right thing to do. Not because it will hurt the opposition.
We should strive for political and cultural victories not simply for the joy of victory. Not simply to sip from the ever-flowing font of liberal tears. But for the positive results the victory will bring.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying the victory and finding delight in the defeat of our enemies. But when we prioritize the defeat of our enemies above advancing the correct ideas, we put more stock in the vessel which will deliver defeat, instead of a vessel which champions our ideals.
~Written by Courtney Kirchoff