Old line segregationist were fond of saying that “birds of a feather flock together,” and they were absolutely right of course, but for all the wrong reasons. The tribal impulse to want to be with those most like us, and conversely shy away from the “other,” forms the foundation of our minds.
Many folks never evolve beyond nature’s basic tribal conditioning. That is to say that if one is a person who has never strayed far beyond one’s place of birth, has forever associated with the same small group of family and friends, possesses a limited education that is biased toward local customs and additionally one has little if any curiosity about the wider world, one could be said to be lacking the basic level of intellect required to rise above one’s tribal impulse.
In the wider sphere of our current multicultural nation such a person of weak intellect would be the stuff of a demagogue’s greatest delight. All that a con man demagogue would have to do to gain such a person as an adherent, a true believing disciple, would be for him to claim to identify with the same tribal impulses as the targeted supporter. In fact it is the standard playbook of not only self-interested demagogues but run of the mill politician as well to plug into as many tribal impulses as possible. On the other hand, a politician appealing to supporters via facts and policies rather than the tribal impulse is always a terrible campaign strategy.
To understand the tribal impulse it’s best to look at the basic leadership qualifications of the tribal chieftain of a typical primitive tribe. — right! The chief would normally be relatively old and a male who exhibits a decisive, commanding personality that the tribe inherently assumes denotes power and wisdom.
Say, you are an unworldly White man in West Virginian and suddenly this old guy Trump comes down his golden escalation in the Big Apple decrying folks of other cultures and creeds while at once proclaiming those like yourself to be the salt of the earth, you might react to him like the second coming of Christ. The facts of his real life of non-stop business corruption and failure would have no chance of penetrating your psyche because he is aiming straight at your tribal impulse.
Now lets move over to the Democratic example of Joe Biden in terms of the tribal impulse. Once again to become the nations chief (president) Joe starts with three advantages over his Democratic rivals right off the mark, he is old, experienced and a male. Moreover, he is associated with a very popular Democratic president, Barack Obama who just happens to be Black. He therefore can appeal to many different tribes — White, along with a mishmash of minorities.
This means that his competitors don’t stand a chance. His White male competitors only appeal to up scale White males, or in Berne’s case a modest cadre of his last election’s following. His While female competitors strain to compete with a few upscale White women. His male competitors of color have little appeal to White voters. And of course poor Kamala Harris is left with a smattering of minority support. Moreover, to try and attack him with his perceived policy blunders of the past is like shooting spitballs at a battleship.
Demagogues and honorable politicians alike must never forget that the road to victory is always, alas, through the tribal impulse.