Do politicians purposely create tribalism and ethnic divisions?

Politicians and political activists on both sides of the political divide are some of the most judgmental people around – and in many cases create divisions simply to exploit them for electoral purposes. Conservatives seek to divide us ethnically for political purposes aided by a willing media while many of my sisters and brothers on the left feel any sort of divergent view constitutes “intolerance” or “racism.”

Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump speaks for the “silent majority” that Richard Nixon talked about – that cannot be disputed except that “silent majority” is now a minority of the American population. Nixon adroitly used a “southern strategy” to exploit an already polarized American electorate and begin a long-term realignment of the south from Democrat to Republican – a process that was not fully complete until the GOP sweep of the region in the 2010 midterm elections.

Trump’s recent comments seem to have done more to polarize Americans than gun violence, terrorist attacks or even FOX News and Newsmax Magazine. Creating divisions is what politicians do, and assigning “winners” and “losers” in society, something Trump openly talks about just furthers these divisions.

Since American society has become more diverse in the last forty years, acceptance and tolerance levels have generally gone up within our society. The naked, overt racism and ethnic stereotyping of the previous eras has given way to a society that despite some progressive critiques is far more diverse and tolerant than just about any single nation’s on the planet.

However Trump has seemingly mimicked the playbook of previous world leaders – much like Adolf Hitler who created blatant hatred of Jews in Germany, the same people who had worked and fought side-by-side with other Germans for centuries until the Nazi party’s rise to power. Trump’s attempts to divide America on ethnic lines are reminiscent of Slobodan Milošević’s success in the former Yugoslavia or turning the very groups Tito had united – Croats, Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and Albanaian Kosovars against one another in the worst fighting Europe has seen since World War II. These moves were done so despots could attain and maintain power, and it worked. Trump’s attitude is not dissimilar from the Saudi Royal Family the US has long been closely aligned with – a right wing religious theocracy that treats women in a similar manner than blacks were treated in Apartheid South Africa.

I firmly believe if FOX News did not exist, talk radio went away and politicians like Trump did not come around looking to exploit our differences in look and beliefs, the natural evolution of integration and tolerance in the United States would have continued. All too often conservatives fall prey to the lowest common denominator in politics and many have not formed the type of world view based on experience or seeking out diverse points of view that would insulate them from the exploitation that Trump, Roger Ailes and others engage in.

Movements like #blacklivesmatter are partly necessary because of the attitudes imparted in law enforcement officials and conservative citizens because of FOX News and talk radio, not the opposite. The political rhetoric of Donald Trump and many of our Republican elected officials here in Florida just furthers this vicious cycle.

Liberals themselves can be blamed for preaching “tolerance” yet often times being intolerant towards anyone with a contrasting view guided by religion/faith or differing views on a number of social issues (again, I reiterate I have been called a racist by multiple fellow liberals who read this blog because of my “conservative” views on radical Islam which are based largely on traveling and personal experiences/conversations not political considerations). Anyone who doesn’t automatically follow the progressive world view on issues that often times American liberals know little about is brandished a “hater.” This adherence to a strong dogma which in itself is intolerant has created a counter-reaction which cynical politicians like Trump have seized on.

I firmly believe if left to their own devices the American people would be fine. But unfortunately, the conservative voice machine, ambitious pols like Trump and the reaction from liberal critics have all conspired to divide and us. the winner in this cycle are the conservative media moguls and politicians on both sides of the aisle. The losers? The American people and rational sanity.

4 comments

  1. Maybe Obama created this by running the most racist administration in history? He is determined to put minorities in positions of power and punish whites for 200 years of being on top. Not that the racist country club whites don’t deserve a little come down. But reverse racism isn’t good either.

  2. Ruth Ann Eaddy · · Reply

    The Progressive and the Moderate Democrats in the Florida Democratic Party need to take heed and be tolerant of differences even within a political party. The candidates in the Primary need to appeal to the voters the reason one should vote for them. We voters need not demonize any Democrat that takes the time and makes the commitment to put themselves out as a candidate sacrificing a personal life and personal treasure.

  3. Dave Trotter · · Reply

    I think this article is right on, but I think we need to look more at media. If you look at the progression of media over the decades, you can see where political thinking has gone. Take for example the 1970s. I think this was a time where Americans were at the height of political conscious, and it is reflected in television. Take “All in the Family” as an example. It was not meant to be a racist show at all, but to open the eyes of Americans to issues of race and bigotry. In fact, many of the shows from the 1970s, such as The Jeffersons, Good Times, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show opened up the eyes of Americans regarding issues of race, gender, and other aspects of government and politics. Yes, a majority of shows in the 1970s weren’t like this, but these were the “big shows” of the 1970s, and the shows we remember today.

    Then we move to the 1980s. If we look at the shows during that decade, we see that political conscious is thrown out the window. Yes, I like Cheers and Night Court, but none of the shows reflected anything politically. It was all mindless escapism. Coincidentally, this was the same time that conservatives took over (Reagan in 1980). At the same time we had 24-hour news programs and the rise of conservative talk radio in the late 1980s (still a popular medium at the time). As we get into the 1990s and 2000s, television is purely there for entertainment. Unfortunately, I think politics became entertainment as well, as the current host of characters on the Republican side.

    Basically, in the 1970s, entertainment tried to make us aware of the news and politics. Today, news and politics tries to entertain us.

    The #blacklivesmatter movement, I feel (I cannot know, as I think it is disingenuous for me to make a claim of which I am not qualified), seeks to bring us back to the idea of political conscious. Yeah, it is nice that Sanders and Clinton talk about income inequality and police shooting, but I think that both candidate entirely miss the point. How can white Democrats promote policies of the African-American community if they are not racially conscious? Unfortunately, I think that the party, as a whole, is not there yet, and Clinton and Sanders show that is the case. Taking about left-right issues in the #blacklivesmatter debate is just a band-aid to fix problem and really doesn’t address anything. The big problem, however, is the lack of racial conscious and understanding. Therefore, I think that the movement is trying to bring us back to the philosophy that was sought in media in the 1970s.

  4. Ironically here the left-wing author of this article irresponsibly leaves out comment regarding the MSNBC and CNN direct pandering to the left wing causes. It certainly would be convenient for those with the liberal disposition to eliminate broadcast media which tend to illustrate otherwise valid points of view. Typical divide-and-conquer leftist strategy if you ask me from my perspective. Therein lies the irony!
    Jonathan

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