I have struggled for days to think about an opening for this blog post. Each sentence, phrase or paragraph does not seem to capture what needs to be communicated to reflect the lives of many Americans caught in the systemic racism and classism that has become the norm in a society that is slowly waking up to its own realities. Living in a state like Massachusetts provides a much different view of the issues that plague so many families of color. In that state, where Blacks are only about 9% of the population, there are many in the majority that profess liberal ideals but lead lives of privileged isolation and distance from their White poor counter parts in other parts of the country and from Black families that are resident close by.
Tribalism ain’t new in America.
That is the problem. Classism and inbreeding have infected the country and few want to call it out for what it is. Tribalism has become a popular term in articles and books. And for some this tribalism may seem like a new phenomenon that has come about in the last few years. But for most of the people that are waking up to these facts – it is not that the country has changed. It maybe more that you have been sleeping, tucked away in your own Versailles like existence.
There are few that have openly admitted to their own ignorance. David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks), seems to take time every now and then to state openly how wrong he had been and how isolated he had been from the reality of the lives of so many; like the disaffected Whites, that struggled for years to find new economic footing and were angered over the imaginary advantage of Blacks under an African American President. TheAmerican pie was shrinking and there was open discussion about pushing them out of the economic mainstream. In interviews Brooks has openly admitted to his new realizations about this dis-affected group. I guess the caste position of Blacks was already well known to him and not as surprising. Many Black families had already resigned themselves to their powerlessness in the economic caste system they lived in daily. All of this while the White political and pundit class gained power, influence and sold out much of the future of the people that they rally every election season.
Political Strategy fuels Tribal Animosity.
The problem is not that the country has become more tribal. It had always been tribal, as most Black people can tell you. Tapping into this tribal flaw of the country became the primary strategy of a political class that wanted to gain as many activated voters as possible. To deliver “turn out” at the polls it was necessary for the tribes to be brought to war with each other. In today’s environment, where both political parties are incentivized to stir up tribal animosity, backed by massive wealth from donors that could care less about the people of the country, what outcome should we expect? Add to the manufactured hostility, the accelerant of social media and you end up with a country ripping itself apart.
The party system of the US is failing. The largest block of voters are now independent. And without a third party the bi-polar nature of politics will continue to whipsaw the national agenda from far left to far right. In the meantime, too many families, in many tribes, struggle to raise the next generation – of Americans. But instead of moral guidance, national vision, or American pride these families are fed vitriol through a press that has become a propaganda machine for those that feed off of the warring factions, pumping out the stories needed to rile up “their respective base.”
America has been dis-serviced by the politicians that have become so out of touch and so power grabbing that they are a danger to the future of families from most American Tribes.
No Incentive for National Unity
A national belief that we must stand together as Americans to build our country together does not rally enough energized voters that politicians need to win elections. But each day, no matter where you are, or what tribe you are in, I hope you can see acts of American human kindness that are generally overlooked and do not get iphone recorded, retweeted, broadcast on cable news or mentioned by politicians trying to incite viral outrage. Americans of all parties, persuasions and leaning must come to believe in themselves again. We as a people are better than the politicians that continue to escort us to their ideological battlegrounds every two years in search of a votes – and leaves us in dysfunction after the election.