Nothing bonds a group more tightly than a common enemy that is perceived as a mortal threat.
A powerful tribal identity bonds the president to his supporters. As Amy Chua, the author of Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, has argued, the tribal instinct is not just to belong, but also to exclude and to attack. “When groups feel threatened,” Chua writes, “they retreat into tribalism. They close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them.” ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:34AM
“Motivation conditions cognition,” Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer at The Atlantic, wisely told me. Very few Trump supporters I know are able to offer an honest appraisal of the man. To do so creates too much cognitive dissonance. ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:36AM
That they are defending a person who is fundamentally malicious, even if he makes judicial appointments of which they approve, is too painful for them to admit. ❧
But surely in the multi-millions of Republicans, they could find someone who could also appoint those judges, but not have the myriad moral failings that Trump does. For surely if they can’t, then they’re doomed to failure and misery sooner or later.
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:38AM
But what’s different in this case is that Trump, because of the corruption that seems to pervade every area of his life and his damaged psychological and emotional state, has shown us just how much people will accept in their leaders as a result of “negative partisanship,” the force that binds parties together less in common purpose than in opposition to a shared opponent. ❧
Annotated on September 06, 2020 at 10:41AM