American society has been slashed asunder by the hot steaming mess that is political tribalism, which not only divides and restricts the government and limits our options politically, but it also restricts the fabric of our interpersonal relationships. While inherent to our nature as human beings, tribalism is harmful within the context of politics and should be consciously avoided.

The news we consume is straying from its ideal goal of responsibly informing the public. Instead, it focuses on pitting us against one another through means of sensational and strongly biased reports on headlines. According to Perlroth, in a recent Times article, in recent years especially, it has become profitable to cater to news sources that inflame the already divided state of the nation. As more of this media is consumed, people become increasingly isolated within their political tribe, becoming more partisan and more likely to vote based on their allegiance to a party, using only a handful of party issued opinions as weapons against one another, rather than rationally considering both sides and making a stance based on what they believe is the most moral or effective option for the nation.

The polazing nature of political tribalism is also harmful to our society and interpersonal relationships. A UC Berkeley article argues people are generally becoming more antagonistic and are more likely to demonize the opposing party, even segregating themselves off from other parties and refusing to live in “liberal” or “conservitve” regions or communities . This kind of fractured society is likely to produce more conflict, as violence and crime is shown to have increased since the 2016 election, with hate crime rates up in particular and there being a broader approval of intergroup violence .

One could see the spirit of this argument and think that although these consequences are nothing to scoff at, it’s a necessary evil when taking into consideration the diversity of thought required for democracy to function. Although it is true diversity of thought is the nexus of democracy, what is happening today in society and politics isn’t healthy. Truly effective diversity of thought should go beyond two political entities, and the main issue with tribalism is how it restricts thought to just one.

If we want to begin to heal the divide between our polarized country, we have to be conscious of the tribalistic tendencies we are often unconsciously drawn to and make an effort to stop them. The fate of our democracy and the well being of our society relies on a degree of unity, and in order for unity to take place we need to allow ourselves to be open and considerate to those we may already be inclined to disagree with.

{p style=”text-align: right;”}Jakob Oehler

{p style=”text-align: right;”}VAHS senior