Today’s selection of articles:
- “The threat of tribalism” by Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld (The Atlantic, 2018-10). The article, as I understand it, argues that Americans no longer support political principles but rather political parties — really, political teams — which have become deeply entwined with identity politics. I suspect this has been the case for most of America’s history (perhaps this is explored in the embedded video, which I did not watch).
American democracy, as established by its founders in the late 1700s, entrenched race-based slavery and categorically disenfranchised women. It guaranteed religious freedom, separation of church and state, and (with the 14th Amendment 100 years later) jus soli (a.k.a. birthright citizenship). The authors quote John Adams and George Washington warning about political parties, especially powerful ones opposed to each other. (Ironic, when the system of law in the country was set up in this model. If politics attracts legal types, and legal types are reared in this framework, it seems natural that politics will revert to the existing legal model.)
Americans on both the left and the right now view their political opponents not as fellow Americans with differing views, but as enemies to be vanquished. And they have come to view the Constitution not as an aspirational statement of shared principles and a bulwark against tribalism, but as a cudgel with which to attack those enemies.
- “In impeachment, tribalization of politics becomes almost complete” by Gerald F. Seib (The Wall Street Journal, 2019-12-16).
- “Merry and bright?” by Colleen Walsh (The Harvard Gazette, 2019-12-16). Expectation, mindset, and gratitude.
- “Scaring people into supporting backdoors” by Bruce Schneier (2019-12-12).