Republicans won’t own up to it, but as a minority party in this country it’s how they win — tribal warfare. There were a lot of Republicans in Georgia that disliked President Trump but positively hated liberals more, and if you were to intensely interrogate these otherwise seemingly moderate, upscale Republicans you would most likely find that their hatred of liberals had little to do with policy differences. In fact many of them actually prefer progressive Democratic policies to those being pushed by the GOP leadership and Trump ilk in Washington, especially healthcare.

These moderates aren’t overt racists. They are as uncomfortable around Klan and neo-Nazi demonstrations as any other self respecting American. Yet at some personally ill-defined gut level they feel liberals are traitors — a despicable enemy. Indeed, the tribal impulse can at once be powerful and subtle.

When GOP operatives scream Nancy Pelosi and liberal in conjunction with a Democratic opponent such as Jon Ossoff in the Georgia 6th special Congressional election, it is code meant to trigger a deep seated fear of the “other” — the hardwired tribal impulse.

Politicians and the media at once acknowledge and dance around the importance of the tribal factor in American and world politics. And of course with the twice election of Barack Obama as president it is not always the deciding factor, but this was likely only because of the huge turnout on the other side of the tribal divide. The norm retuned in the 2010 midterm election when the Democrats got trounced as minority voting slackened off. The bottom line is that it takes an awful lot of consistent effort by progressives and minorities to overcome the White Christian tribal impulse in America.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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