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It Used to be Partisanship, Now It’s ‘Tribalism,’ Says Expert on Divisiveness in U.S. Politics

Is the United States becoming more divided than ever as we look towards the 2020 presidential election? Ryan Clancy, chief strategist at No Labels and co-author of “No Labels’ Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Election,” joined Bold TV along with Darrell West, vice president of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and author of “Divided Politics Divided Nation.” They discussed the nature of divisiveness in the American political system and Clancy explained how the No Labels team had to change the language they used to describe the divide over time.

“It used to be polarization and partisanship, now it’s tribalism. So I do think that there are policy disagreements. And I actually think — which we kind of layout in this book — maybe the divide isn’t quite as great as people imagined, when you look at where people really are on a given set of issues,” Clancy said. “But it is that values and tribal aspect where you just see people that, on the merits, they should be able to get to ‘yes’ on a given issue. But because they’re sort of staring across the divide at somebody who they see as an enemy, not as somebody to be debated, we can’t get to ‘yes’ on anything.” 

West said a combination of geography and economics is the root cause of many divides in the country.

“So my metro colleagues at Brookings did a study, and they found 15 percent of counties now generate 64 percent of America’s GDP, West told Bold TV. “So basically most of the economic activity in America is on the East Coast, the West Coast and a few metropolitan areas in between. Most of the country is being left behind. There aren’t any jobs, there isn’t much of an economic future, and those people are really upset those people are turning on both to the left as well as to the right. And I think that’s the source of a lot of both the tribalism and the polarization that we’re seeing.”

The two guests agreed that more communication across not only party lines but social, economic, and cultural lines could help fix any divide.

Watch the segment above or on our Facebook page. 

Photo Credit: chayka1270

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