At the ever-excellent Quillette, Vincent Harinam and Bob Henderson have a long a thoughtful piece about the continuing fraying of the societal connectiveness and trust, resulting in ever greater polarisation and tribalisation. The less we know and interact with people who are different to ourselves, the less we understand them and are able to find any common ground with them. It’s a vicious circle. For me, the most fascinating part of the article is Harinam’s and Henderson’s contention that political cleavages have now replaced racial ones:
Republicans and Democrats are increasingly unwilling to get married, be friends, or live beside one another. In 1960, only 5% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats disapproved of their child marrying outside their party. In 2014, 30% of Republicans and 23% of Democrats disapproved of inter-party marriage. Compare this to interracial marriage, a former taboo. According to Gallup, 87% of Americans now favor interracial marriage, up from 4% in 1958.
Along the same lines, 63% of Republicans and 49% of Democrats report being friends primarily with those sharing their political views. Another nationally representative study found that 20% of Democrats and 15% of Republicans believe that their country would be better off if large numbers of people in the other party died. We’ve traded one prejudice for another.
Though I suppose the situation is more complex than that – we haven’t as much traded one prejudice for another as overlaid old ones with new ones. White Americans are increasingly Republican; ethnic minorities have always been overwhelmingly Democrat. The latter is slowly changing, and needs every assistance and encouragement we can give it. Tribalism will always be with us to some extent because human beings are group-oriented, but the tribalism based on immutable characteristics such as race is the most poisonous one. Far better we hate each other over freely-accepted beliefs that impact on others rather than innate traits that don’t – though best still if we did not hate each other at all. This sounds like an utopia though. But we should try to rediscover and cherish those commonalities outside the politics, of which I was reminded by this wonderful tweet:
In comments, conservatives by and large are cheering on the sentiments; the left not so much.
Unhinged. We have a long way to go.