I often observe that American politics have become tribal. It is an unfortunate human tendency to divide up into groups and then decide that some other group over there is really, really awful and an existential threat to your own group. This is where I see politics today. Sure, there are still real policy disagreements, but these can shift so much one has to wonder if people are taking a position based on real, rational evaluation or simply because the rival tribe has taken the opposite position. Just look at shifting red/blue attitudes on Russia. The Left hated drone strikes under GWB but have gone silent on them with Obama, despite Obama actually ordering more of them. Republicans denounce Obama's executive orders on immigration as unconstitutional but welcome them from Trump. Policy issues are no longer things to be solved, but are merely props to generate outrage and over which to score points in the left-right tribal warfare.
This post from Warden at Ace of Spades, which is being greeted with cheers on the Right, is the best example I have seen in a while of political tribal warfare:
This same indifference that helped Trump carry the election has continued into the early days of his administration. With it comes a refreshingly freeing state of mind. Personally, I don't feel in any way responsible for Trump, nor do I feel compelled to defend him against attack.
Why? Because I voted for retribution.
"He's think-skinned and petty!" shrieks the left. "He takes everything personally!"
Good, I say. I want him to take attacks personally and deal out payback. I know I won't be the target, you will be.
"He's unpresidential! He'll destroy the integrity of the office!"
No, that's already happened. Remember, you elected a shit-talking jackass who takes selfies at state funerals when he's not giving stealth middle fingers to his opponents during debates. There is no dignity of the office, not after Clinton and Obama.
"He's a narcissist! He's got totalitarian impulses!"
Yes, he's basically a mirror version of Obama. Except now, he'll be working for what I want. The end justifies the means. You taught me that
I literally don't care what Donald Trump does because nothing he can do is worse than what they've already done.
Donald Trump isn't the bully; he only insults and abuses people in power who have attacked him. They're the fucking bullies. The left, with their smears, their witch hunts, their slanders, their insults, their riots, their violence, and their weaponizing of the federal bureaucracy.
There aren't any rules anymore because the left only applies them one way. And in doing so, they've left what once was a civil compact between the two parties in smoldering ruins.
I have no personal investment in Donald Trump. He is a tool to punish the left and roll back their ill-gotten gains, no more and no less. If he succeeds even partially in those two things, then I'll consider his election a win.
Further, I no longer have any investment in any particular political values, save one: The rules created by the left will be applied to the left as equally and punitively as they have applied them to the right. And when they beg for mercy, I'll begin to reconsider. Or maybe not. Because fuck these people.
Here is an example of the approving reception for this on the Right
We personally hope, as we’re sure that Warden does, that President Trump goes on to accomplish much greater things. All of our futures depend on it, after all. But even if all he does is to make the Prozis feel the pain that normal Americans have had shoved in their faces for 8 damnable years, if all he does is finally wake the limp wrists on our side up to the simple fact that it’s not wrong if you’re just turning the tables on the swine, using their own methods against them until they come crawling on their bellies, begging for peace, then we’ll take it as a solid win.
It’s wrong to kick somebody in the nuts, we’ve taught our Heirs that ever since they got old enough to potentially get in a fight, but it’s NOT wrong to do so if the dishonorable piece of shit facing you tries to do it to you first. And if he tries and succeeds, then you need to work on your technique and reflexes.
It’s never, ever wrong to use the enemy’s rule book against himself. He wrote it, not you, he made the choice when he deemed it acceptable to use his methods against you, when he showed up to a debate armed with a rifle, he made it OK to shoot him in the face with your own, and if you insist on resorting to limp notes of disapproval, then you’re the idiot, not him.
The other element I see in both statements is a strong flavor of the playground justification "the other guy started it!" This is self-serving crap. There is no good justification for violating the norms of rational civil discourse, or worse, for violating the rule of law. None. Every tyrant in all of history has justified their actions based on "the other guy started it". Up to and including Hitler, who justified brownshirt tactics on the violence of communist groups who "started it".
I read blogs from the Left and Right in equal measure. I have friends from both the far Left and far Right. Hell, I have family from the far Left and far Right. And I can tell you something -- every member of the Left and Right absolutely believe, without possibility of contradiction, that:
- Their side loses too often because the other side use bare knuckle tactics and their side is too polite.
- Their side does bad things only because the other side started it.