Political parties give us a mechanism to articulate, debate and put policy into practice thus proving or refuting our ideas of good governance. The conflict of ideas can lead to statesmanship if conflicting ideas are tempered by shared values. If political parties become about winning and not about ideas we do not engage in heathy democratic debate but instead descend into tribalistic ruin. So it’s time to check your tribalistic temperature.
Democrats: If you are counting down the days for the November election waiting to see the Democrats sweep into power so they can speedily impeach and remove Mr. Trump—check your tribalism. Mr. Trump no doubt lacks the capacity, judgment and moral character for one who holds such high office, yet here he is, and tens of millions of people voted for him. Spoiler alert: they are all not ignorant, redneck, racist boobs. They have real reasons and real concerns for the country. Many are convinced the negative attention drawn to Mr. Trump is no more than sour grapes by the left for a lost election. Don’t prove them right. If you’re spending more time reading NYT opinion pieces and watching Rachel Maddow than getting to know Trump voters—check your tribalism. Spend some time getting to know why people voted for him. You don’t have to agree with them but you should at least be able to understand where they are coming from. The best way for Mr. Trump to leave office is the way he came in: by the voters.
Republicans: If you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached for lying under oath about an affair but Mr. Trump is being framed by a partisan witch hunt—check your tribalism. If you dismiss Mr. Trump’s conduct, his relationship with honesty and his moral character—check your tribalism. Admitting Mr. Trump lacks moral character and leadership is not an acceptance of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or an embracing of liberalism. Now is the time for your party to own this. Republican leaders should care more for the country than their donors or their fear of being challenged in a primary. The party of Lincoln is being eroded by this presidency, if you can’t see that check your tribalism.
All of us: What are your core political beliefs? Where do they come from? How did you arrive at them? We can’t let parties divide our attention from the shared core beliefs that this republic was built on solid ideals that are worth defending. We are better united than divided. We should not agree on everything but we should work together with the same end in mind—that together we can and should “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”