Is political tribalism leading to more political hypocrisy?
Is political tribalism is leading to more political hypocrisy?
The Christian Science Monitor has an article that strikes a nerve with me. I almost want to quite watching news or reading Twitter (which I have concluded even though I do it is a waste of my time on this earth).
Hypocrisy in politics is a time-honored tradition. Republicans slam Democrats for doing and saying the very things they once did and said, and vice versa.
Years before he became president, Donald Trump railed against President Barack Obama’s aggressive use of executive power. Today, President Trump faces criticism for doing the same. President Obama ramped up drone attacks against militants and terrorists, but when Mr. Trump ordered the killing by drone of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who had much American blood on his hands, Democrats cried foul.
In 1998, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York declared the impeachment of President Bill Clinton “an undoing of a national election.” Today, Republicans say the same of Democrats over the Trump impeachment, which Congressman Nadler – now Judiciary Committee chairman – calls “imperative.”
The list is endless. And the rise of the internet, which captures every tweet and video clip in perpetuity, makes it easier than ever to catch hypocrites in the act. Which is pretty much every politician, and plenty of voters too.
But today, it seems, hypocrisy is particularly rampant – and there’s a reason. “It’s a function of our extreme partisan polarization, and really, it justifies anything,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Hypocrisy is the lifeblood of politics.
This political science major at Colgate and former overseas and U.S. newspaper career journalist has long said that Sabato is the best, most accurate and incisive analyst of American politics. And I’ll say it again. MORE:
In behaving hypocritically, each political “tribe” can argue it is serving a greater good: the furthering of its political goals. During his impeachment, liberal feminists stood by President Bill Clinton, despite his predatory history toward women. His support for women’s rights won him a pass from them.
For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it meant blocking an Obama Supreme Court pick in 2016, saying voters should have input in an election year. Yet when asked more recently if the Senate would consider a high court nominee if there’s a vacancy in 2020, Senator McConnell didn’t hesitate: “Oh, we’d fill it,” he said, to the surprise of no one.
“It is pragmatic for politicians to act like hypocrites during periods of hyperpartisanship, since they otherwise might be harassed or expelled from their group for disloyalty,” writes Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at New York University, in an email.
“Trump is partly a cause and partly a consequence of polarization,” says Mr. Van Bavel. “He was voted into office by the overwhelming support of Republicans, in part because many of them did not want to support a Democrat.”
“Once in office, Trump has been aggressively partisan in many of his actions,” he continues. “This has ensured that he maintains the fierce support of Republicans, even as it undercuts any potential support he might obtain from Democrats or independents. We are in a vicious cycle of hyperpartisanship that is self-reinforcing.”
There’s a lot more so go to the link and read the Monitor article in its entirety.
There are two bits of hypocrisy that really grate at me because they are evident every day. The basic thing about political tribalism and hypocrisy is that those who do it jettison their previous principles, find ways to explain it and insist they never had a previous position or dismiss it as that bad, mean, old media.
(1) GOLFING. Many Presidents including Dwight Eisenhower have gone golfing. When Obama was President Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and a host of conservative bloggers constantly made fun of it or suggested it meant he wasn’t doing his job. As of this writing Donald Trump has made visits to 112 golf clubs since becoming President, spent more than 260 days at golf courses while President, has had taxpayers pick up the bill for $115 million…187 years of Presidential salary, and Trump is trying to keep the Secret Service bill from coming out until after the election. Trump’s golfing is hyper hypocrisy since he lambasted President Barack Obama for his golfing. But you don’t hear a peep from any of the GOPers who made this an ongoing issue or talking point throughout Obama’s Presidency.
(2) TELEPROMPTER: This was also a talking and snark point for GOPers, Hannity, Limbaugh, Fox News and conservative bloggers. Yet, both Bush Presidents used a teleprompter. So did Nixon. So did Ford. When Trump uses one, never a comment.
There are many more and, yes, on both sides (OOPS! There go some readers!). But some of the hypocrisy we are seeing now out of the White House and GOPers takes it to a new level.
OF RELATED INTEREST:
–-Political tribalism in the age of Trump.
—The politics of fear: How it manipulates us to tribalism
—Stop worrying about ‘tribalism’ – politics is supposed to be passionate
–-‘CONFORMATION BIAS’: POLITICAL TRIBALISM AS A DRIVER OF DISINFORMATION