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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Tribalism that Sustains Herman Cain

Charlie Pierce had a brief post up over at Esquire on Friday discussing the Republican Party's ongoing efforts to crush the labor movement.
Remember when all the Tea Party apologists were telling us that it was all about the anger of middle-class folks over the deficit and  federal spending, and about how they were just as mad at Democrats as they were at Republicans?
See, here's the thing. The first part was complete bullshit and the second part was a dodge. They may well have been equally upset at Democrats as they were at Republicans, but they were not as mad at conservatives as they were at liberals. That, by the way, makes all the difference, because whereas they were angry at Republicans because they were not conservative enough, they were angry at Democrats for existing at all because they were liberals, and "liberal" is defined by these people as "anyone and anything we don't like." The Tea Party may not have been strictly partisan, but it was undeniably tribal. (emphasis added)
That's a good word, "tribalism," and it nicely encapsulates what I and a lot of other DFHs have been saying about the Republic Party for some time now:  other than cutting taxes for the rich, the only thing that defines the GOP is its desire to piss off Liberals as much as possible.

They do not evince a desire to enact policy so much as they demonstrate an overwhelming need to crush their political opponents.  And it doesn't even matter if their political opponents agree with them.  If Democrats adopt the Republican position that carbon emissions should be limited under a "cap and trade" program, then  Republicans will argue against that position.  If Democrats adopt the Republican position that health insurance costs can be lowered by mandating that everybody purchase health insurance, Republicans will argue against that position. The modern GOP views politics as little more than "us" versus "them," and they are prepared to define themselves solely in opposition to whatever their political opponents want.  Modern Republicans are "derivative ideologues," i.e., they vote ideologically, but their ideology depends not on what they believe but on what others believe.

I think this same kind of political tribalism goes a long way toward explaining why Herman Cain has not fallen very far in the Republican polls, despite the fact it has now been about 2 weeks since the first allegations of sexual harassment (even sexual assault!) have been brought forth.  I think that - for a very large swathe of the Republican Party - they are more than happy to stick with a candidate who has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct if only because it provides them another opportunity to say Suck It! to the "liberal media" and the "politically correct crowd" who would dare to suggest that someone with Cain's background might not be the best choice for a presidential candidate.

Which - hey! - so far as I am concerned, that's fine with me.  The longer Cain stays in the race and keeps the party from coalescing around Romney, which I am still convinced ultimately will happen, the happier I'll be.  If the Republicans want to cut off their nose to spite the Liberals' face, I'm absolutely A-OK with that.

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