Part 3—A snapshot of smutty disdain: What does it mean to belong to a tribe?
Along other things, it means the member gets to bathe in the water of tribal assurance. We've marveled at this in the past two days as cable watchers were assured that "everyone" was appalled by Commander Trump's Helsinki performance, and that "no one" believes his Tuesday attempt at a walkback.
Watching CNN or MSNBC, we kept receiving this odd reassurance. On this morning's front page, the New York Times states the obvious—many Trump voters disagree with the Standard CNN Take.
Everyone doesn't think Trump bombed in Helsinki. In this passage from his report, Matt Flegenheimer quotes two examples:
FLEGENHEIMER (7/18/18): So it went in interviews with Republican voters across the country on Monday and Tuesday, most of them devoted to the president’s policies generally. They quickly sorted themselves into two camps: those who winced at the episode, or at least questioned it, and those who continued to defend Mr. Trump without hesitation.Other Trump voters offered theories concerning the method behind the alleged madness. "Everybody" doesn't agree, in spite of what pundits have said.
If history is a guide—and polling, too—the second group is significantly larger within the party...
“It is strictly a witch hunt,” said Carol Livingood, 74, of Danville, Ind., who says she owns enough “Make America Great Again” hats and shirts to “wear Mr. Trump” every day of the week. “It makes Watergate look like playing in the sandbox.” She blamed the news media and the F.B.I. for stoking tensions.
“They’re just trying to make Trump’s election look fraudulent,” said Vernon Hastings Jr., 76, from Shreveport, La., calling reports of Russia’s election interference overblown. “You think it ain’t happening already? You think China’s not fooling with it?”
These are the people whose votes allowed Herr Trump to squeeze into office, even without a major East Coast weather event. They're the people whose votes could help the Republican Party retain control of the Congress in this November's elections—although we're being assured, on tribal channels, that a blue tidal wave's on the way.
As liberals, we know how to process comments from the likes of Livingood and Hastings. We tell ourselves that they and their kind will soon die off, leaving the planet to the wiser people, to people a bit more like us.
Such comments are common in liberal comment threads. They echo Hillary Clinton's famous statement about how "unfortunate" it is that such "irredeemables" even exist at all. The statement produced LAUGHTER/APPLAUSE from the tribal base—and may have sent Trump to the White House.
Alas! Such statements find their way back to those lesser beings and to their families and friends. And sure enough! Instead of exhibiting gratitude for the way we're willing to share our wisdom, these small-brained oafs tend to take offense when they hear us counting the days until they're gone from the Earth.
What will happen this November? We have no way of knowing. But history suggests that the turnout of the oafs could, in fact, exceed the turnout of our own tribe's many gods.
Our own tribe's bands tend to stay away from the polls, especially in off-year elections. And we aren't always completely successful at getting the lessers to switch—to vote the way we tell them.
What makes the lessers Over There cling to their tribal allegiance? We're going to guess that it doesn't help when they hear themselves described as "ignorant hillbillies" who can be smelled at the Walmart. Or when they hear themselves pruriently denigrated in the way one cable star did.
This cable star is a drinking buddy of Donald Trump's leading birther enabler. She thinks her friend Chris Matthews is the best political analyst ever. Never mind the lunacy he unloosed for two years in the quest to get George W. Bush elected, or the smutty misogyny he aimed at Hillary Clinton over all those smutty, amazingly stupid years.
Last night, the cable star returned to her favorite new pastime; she opened with a long-winded public reading of a pointless court transcript. Still, this peculiar star is one of our own, and she's skilled at selling the car.
Long ago and far away, she helped create the present moment. We're thinking of the extended reign of tribal insult concerning the comical term, "teabagging," which she helped us tribals enjoy over the course of two weeks.
The cable star kept pretending that she was embarrassed by what she was doing on the air night after night. No matter! The smutty fun started on Thursday evening, April 9, 2009. By Monday evening, April 13, the cable star was "teasing" a "teabagging" session like this:
MADDOW (4/13/09): Coming up, what is red-faced, assumes their taxes are going up even though they`re not and will be jockeying for air time on Wednesday? Conservative teabaggers, now with extra Ron Paul. Coming up next, Air America's Ana Marie Cox will join us for a double entendre palooza.So cool, and so much fun! By the time the palooza was done, the star was playing us gullibles thusly:
MADDOW (4/13/09): Wow, I almost can't hold it together. Thank you very much, Ana Marie Cox, Air America national correspondent and Daily Beast contributor. Thank you very much. Look at me.The cable star had now officially blushed! Despite her tremendous embarrassment, she kept the dick jokes coming for six straight nights, aiming them at regular people who weren't smart enough to consult UrbanDictionary.com to learn "why they shouldn't refer to it as 'teabagging.' "
COX: Thank You, Rachel.
MADDOW: I've never sneezed on the air, but now, I have officially blushed, twice.
During a later hour-long discussion, Jon Stewart scolded the star for this ugly, stupid behavior. For ourselves, We recall the first night of this extended insult-palooza as the ugliest, stupidest thing we'd ever seen on cable—and we'd sat through the smutty sessions, ten years earlier, in which Matthews explained that Candidate Gore was "today's man/woman."
The cable star entertained the tribe with her smutty putdowns of Others. Our tribal culture is heavily built upon such statements and acts of disdain.
We'll be better off when The Others are dead. We can smell them in Walmart stores, hillbillies that they are. Way back when, it was loads of fun to go on the air and show how thoroughly we disrespect Them for their pitiful lack of hipness.
"Tolerance is not a [Homo] Sapiens trademark." So says Professor Harari, cheekily understating the point in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Our little political/cultural band is often eager to demonstrate Harari's point. In standard tribal fashion, we're highly intolerant of The Others' alleged intolerance, very much in love with our own.
For better or for much, much worse, we harden the other team's tribal instincts as we express ourselves in these ways. This makes it harder to shake voters loose from a fellow like Donald J. Trump.
These are snapshots of primal behavior. In these ways, our uglier, stupider tribal instincts have helped get us where we now are.
Tomorrow: A wholly different snapshot