One nation, under too many gods, far too divided

I wasn’t surprised to see a headline on the Drudge Report today: ‘Poll Finds Vast Gaps in Basic Views on Gender, Race, Religion and Politics‘. I won’t bother to summarize the findings of the ABC News/Fusion poll, which you can read for yourself at the link.

What does surprise me is that the poll doesn’t draw the obvious conclusions.  Most of the different views it finds surprising can be summarized in terms of six basic distinctions:

  1. Rural versus urban;
  2. Employed versus unemployed;
  3. White/Oriental (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, etc.) versus other races (Black, Hispanic, etc.);
  4. Older versus younger;
  5. Religious/belief structure versus non-religious/humanist;
  6. Constitutionalist versus who-the-hell-cares.

The people on the first side of each of those categories tend to hold more conservative and/or libertarian views than the last in each of them. Get someone who’s on the same side of more than four out of six of them, and there’s little doubt where they’ll stand on just about anything!

We face a very awkward and difficult future, where the majority of those who bother to vote are now dependent on the ‘nanny state‘ to run their lives and provide them with their daily bread. Take away the nanny state, make them provide for themselves, and most of them will probably go into meltdown. The working minority whose taxes support the dependent majority are getting more and more fed up with this situation.  Sooner or later, they’ll have had enough . . . and then watch the sparks fly from those who consider themselves ‘entitled’ to the fruits of others’ labor!

I see many parallels in US society today to the tribalism with which I was so familiar in Africa. That familiarity helped me to cope with prison gangs in the USA when I worked as a prison chaplain (see my memoir for more details). I think I must work up a blog article or two about tribalism in America today, and how I see it developing. The parallels are ominous.



  1. Peter,

    When you spoke of Tribalism, I had to head for the bookshelf. John Ringo's novel The Last Centurion, chapter 5 "When the Turbine Blows Up," goes into length about general trust and family trust.

    While walking in Pennypack Park, (Philadelphia Parks) my wife and I have observed that cultures not brought up in the background of mainstream America do not make eye contact and nod in passing when encountered on a trail. Perhaps the why of this lies in "not of our tribe."

    John in Philly

  2. I have also observed the increasing tribalization of American people. Some of that is not new (sports team loyalty, regional chauvinism, etc.). The relentless fracturing of people into ever smaller groups by the government and its propaganda arm (media) has accelerated in the last 20 years, with conservative and liberal being further divided into various neo- and paleo- version, Tea Party, left- and right-libertarian (with several anarcho flavors), with some folks seeming to worship the last two Presidents to the point at which they seemed to acquire god-king status. Pro-gun rights, with and without hunting, separation of state and religion (or, in my preference, separation of state and most everything), and so on.

    If we are all distrustful of most others, we cannot effectively oppose the leviathan state, and the effect on economic interaction is devastating.

    Have a nice day!

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