Donald Trump and Blind Tribalism

Super Tuesday has come and gone, and with it, Trump has conquered. It’s become abundantly clear that, not only does Trump have a chance at the nomination – he is the current GOP frontrunner and will likely gain the nomination of the Republican party.

What has baffled me the most during this entire circus election cycle is the lack of Trump support I have heard from the people around me. My friends and family make up a wide swath of the political spectrum, from those who #feeltheBern to hyper-conservatives. With few exceptions, virtually none of them are Trump supporters. In fact, it’s not even like they’re apathetic or ambivalent – many of them are appalled at his likely success in becoming the GOP candidate.

How can we account for this?

I think at least part of the answer lies in what I’m going to call ‘blind tribalism.’ Mind you, this is purely based on my own observations of both the current political landscape and my interactions with people, either via social media or in person.

Several Republicans I know, though they have concerns about common issues (abortion, gay rights, immigration, small businesses, the size of the government), have expressed a deeper, more primal desire: winning at all costs.

Take the following interaction as an example:

“I have been going back and forth between two candidates for over a month then at the last moment voted for neither and chose the man I most believed can win in November because making sure it is NOT Hillary (sic) or Bernie is more important to me than the lesser distinctions between say Cruz and Rubio.”

And this isn’t the only example I could give you. These kinds of comments and attitudes betray a much deeper issue with the American public. People (mainly Republicans) are fed up with the current state of our government. They feel disenfranchised, left out, voiceless. Because of this, they have decided – despite Trump’s poor character, penchant for racism, foul-mouthedness, and complete lack of governing experience – if Trump wins the Republican nomination, it is more important to stand with the Republican party than it is to allow a Democrat to win. They have decided to align with someone who will supposedly gain them power in exchange for not concerning themselves with the actual principles of conservatism (limited government, the objective existence of an enduring moral order, the value of freedom and property, and so forth). Trump, it can be argued, does not stand for the values of true conservatism. It’s quite obvious, in fact, that he is pursuing power for the sake of power. He gets to think what he wants, say what he wants, and do what he wants. As the president of the United States, he would make a mockery of the office he would hold, and he has not even slightly indicated that he would pursue the common good for the larger American society.

My friends that don’t care about this, however, have lost themselves in blind tribalism. They have forsaken conservative values for the sake of power. They have done so in the name of denying Democrats another four or eight years in office – all without any thought towards the fact that Donald Trump winning the presidency is not winning. The only person that wins in this scenario is Donald Trump.

If you are a Republican or consider yourself a conservative, do not vote for Donald Trump in your primary. If he wins the nomination, I urge you, DO NOT VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP. At best, his presidency will be a circus, a little piece of reality TV to turn on every once in a while. At worst, he will erode the moral fabric of our nation, make a mockery of the US among other nations, and begin to take away the fundamental rights all Americans enjoy that are guaranteed by our Constitution.

Dominant Conservative Misconception

The dominant conservative misconception, evident in manifold bumper stickers, is that the prophet is a future-teller, a predictor of things to come (mostly ominous), usually with specific reference to Jesus. While one would not want to deny totally those facets of the practice of prophecy, there tends to be a kind of reductionism that is mechanical and therefore untenable. While the prophets are in a way future-tellers, they are concerned with the future as it impinges upon the present. Conversely, liberals who abdicated and turned all futuring over to conservatives have settled for a focus on the present. Thus prophecy is alternatively reduced to righteous indignation, and… prophecy is mostly understood as social action.

The Prophetic Imagination – Walter Brueggemann (12-13)