Let me explain political tribalism using sports as an example.
If I’m watching an NBA basketball game and one player grabs another player’s genitals, my view of the offending player’s character is likely to trend negative.
When my home team Warrior’s player Draymond Green targets a crotch, I’m like, “Well, in the grand scheme of things, what’s a little genital pulling?” Maybe it’s part a broader strategy. Besides, everybody probably does it. Dray just has the authenticity to just do it right out in the open. Come to think of it, I actually felt better about Dray after he grabbed someone’s package.
This perspective of mine is completely dependent on it being my team. I remain unequivocally opposed to your team’s player grabbing my team’s player by the balls.
For this to work, I need to simultanously repress and project my own secret disgust — pushing it any direction to keep it out my consciousness (and, more importantly, out of my Twitter stream). Meanwhile, your judgment about what I’m doing threatens to upend the balancing act required to maintain the carefully constructed bubble where I am so deeply and happily connected to my local sports-ball team that I refer to them and me as We. “How did the Giants do today?” We won!
(At last an appropriate use for this: SAD!)
We are alike, you and I. And that’s why your ridiculous hypocrisy acts as a constant reminder of my own absurdity — you’re a mirror image of the worst parts of me. For that reason, every word you say makes me want to punch you in the face just a little bit more than I did before.
(I’m guessing this sounds familiar.)
Our relationship is what makes sports riveting; and what it gives the power to provide the kind of distraction to which we’re all so hopelessly addicted.
If you view political teams through this lens, they make more sense.
Consider how differently the two political teams viewed the genital grabbing that came to light during the election:
Those opposed to Trump were sure the tapes would mark end of his campaign. Those for Trump thought the offense was just a personality quirk, the way everyone behaves, or even a laudable act. And they saw it as an existential threat when the other team brought up fake news such as morals and ethics.
Nearly every story confirms the sports/politics theory. Example: If you’re on Team Trump, you were willing to overlook the fact that Trump gave away a lot for nothing at the Singapore Summit. And when that’s pointed out, you feel threatened and accuse the threateners of playing politics or of not having the stamina for all the winning.
If you’re on the other team, you’re not off the hook. Why? Because your opposition to Team Trump is so fervent that you were sort of happy to hear that Kim Jong Un is moving forward with his nuke program. (Sorry, Awkward!!)
Your thinking goes a little something like this: We may all blow up, but at least you’ll have to admit I was right.
Don’t feel bad. We’re all like this when it comes to sports and we’re all like this when it comes to politics. The media covers the two topics in exactly the same way for a reason.
So there you have it. That’s how a simple sports analogy, featuring two genital grabbing plot twists, explains what the hell is going on in America.
(That’s a lot more than you get from most of shit that’s on the internet, so sign up for Dave Pell’s NextDraft. Go Team!)