Skip to content

On Stubborn Facts and Partisan Identification

2017 July 23
by Ian Welsh

There is vast confusion in the more active left about this, so let’s clear it up by way of Bernie Sanders.

Clinton was more popular with POC and women than Sanders was. She was also more popular with old people.

However, Sanders is well-liked by POC and women. Every survey I have seen shows him with approval ratings in the 60s to 70s from POC. His approval ratings from women are usually 50-something, and higher than with men, but within the margin of error.

Sander is not unpopular with women and people of color, and people of color, in fact, are much more likely to approve of him than whites.

Whites and males are the people most likely to NOT approve of Bernie Sanders.

In absolute terms Sanders is liked by POC and women. In relative terms, it depends on who you’re comparing him to.

None of this is in question, and people who run around pretending Sanders is hated by black people and women are either lying or ignorant. In group terms, he is not.

Next: Clinton did better with Democrats and Bernie did better with independents, BUT Sanders is well-liked by Democrats, this Hill poll had his approval rating by Democrats at 80 percent.

Again, relative vs. absolute.

Another fact, because we have the DNC emails, is that the DNC, run by a Clinton loyalist, put his thumb on the scales for Clinton. This is a fact.

I am not a partisan for Sanders in the same way I am for Corbyn. I strongly approve of Corbyn; I think Sanders was good enough to rate an endorsement, but his stands on, say, Israel, are awful. Corbyn has opposed Israeli apartheid right down the line, just as he did South African apartheid.

I think the best President in American history was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But I think that locking up Japanese Americans was abominable.

My judgments of fact, as much as I can manage it, are not determined by my partisanship. My ethical judgments are not determined by my partisanship.

Rather, as best I can, I seek to have my partisanship determined by the facts combined with my ethical judgment.

This should not be a problem. If you have good reasons for supporting Hillary Clinton, you should be able to acknowledge her actual record and actions and still have reasons for supporting her.

If you must lie about a politician’s record in order to support them, or if you must pretend that evil acts they have committed or endorsed were not evil (Sanders’ Israel Support, Clinton’s Libya adventure), then you have gone deeply wrong, and you are a part of what is wrong with your country and the world.

One can support the lesser evil, or the greater good, and admit that. One can support someone who is more good than bad and still acknowledge the bad.

If one cannot, one is making decisions based on delusional fantasy.

You should be able to do this even for people you love or hate. I hate Obama and Bush, Jr. and Reagan, but where they did something right, I acknowledge it. (Reagan’s work on nuclear disarmament falls into this category.)

If your tribal identification is running your determination of right or wrong, please check yourself out of politics until it isn’t.


The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

34 Responses
  1. realitychecker permalink
    July 23, 2017

    Ooooh, now you’ve done it.

    The ultimate heresy is to place reason above blind team loyalty.

  2. July 23, 2017

    Whites and males are the people most likely to NOT approve of Bernie Sanders…

    White male democrats are the most likely to not approve of Bernie Sanders.

  3. bruce wilder permalink
    July 23, 2017

    A corollary to Ian’s point is to recognize that, if you are even marginally involved in partisan politics — especially if your involvement is marginal — you are the subject and target of active attempts to manipulate you. That is what “tribalism” is, in American politics, the trace of manipulation, to get you to share the views and evaluations of others in your “tribe”, as a way of getting you to march in step with others.

    I am not saying it is a bad thing to voluntarily march in cooperation with others — that is the essence of political organization and is necessary to getting anything done on behalf of a broadly conceived public interest. But, there is a big difference between being part of a membership organization which is driven by the needs and interests of the members and being part of someone’s mailing list or letting yourself be riled up by shameless hucksters like Rachel Maddow.

    Corbyn’s attractiveness is largely about what a good fit he is to a Labour Party defined by its non-politician, non-large-donor membership. Labour is today one of the largest membership political parties in the world. Historically, what distinguished Labour from the Liberals was the role of labor unions and cooperative societies in its base, so this is not entirely new.

    Blair and Gordon Brown created a Parliamentary Labour Party on a different model, one that pursued certain sources of party funds from business interests and emphasized a structured career path thru staff work to becoming an MP and beyond that in some cases to private sector careers. It was quite elaborate and homogenized the PLP as well as made those pursuing such a career very interested in negotiating the built-in conflict of interest. It creates a politician dedicated to find ways to broker voter support for the projects of patrons or clients. It is, in many ways, akin to the way a magazine editor seeks to deliver content to readers that advertisers are willing to pay for; politicians in this model are seeking ways to deliver policy voters kinda like that donors are willing to pay for.

    A similar fight is underway in the Democratic Party, where an extensive group dependent on a model of big donor financing and big media careers is resisting a politics of choosing policy that is good for voters at the expense of the donor class. It is a group that makes a living manipulating . . . you. Not leading anyone. Most certainly not making wise policy.

    A partisan politics of being easily and enthusiastically manipulated for someone else’s gain is not healthy. If you find yourself trying to defend your guy’s bad behavior frequently, this might be an indication that you are not in a membership organization, you are in a demographic.

  4. nihil obstet permalink
    July 23, 2017

    I can no longer tell what people really think. For many people the process seems to be, “I believe the Democratic Party is better for the country and for the less well-to-do than the Republicans. Therefore, it is important for the Democrats to win. To get the money and organization and appeal to the crucial voting bloc of POC, Democrats must keep going with Clinton and other establishment-pleasing candidates. We cannot, therefore, admit to their actions and stated policies that you purists would find wrong. We must carefully select facts, framing devices, and things that might be true to make these wrong actions go away. If you don’t do this, you are responsible for the evil that the Republicans will bring to the country.

    Shorter version of the above: “I like lots of Sanders’ statements, but he’s unrealistic.”

    In other words, they have an argument for tribal loyalty that trumps other considerations of right and wrong. I don’t know whether they’re aware of it or whether they really have lost the ability to identify right and wrong.

  5. Willy permalink
    July 23, 2017

    Apartheid is a good description. Heard that before from a Greek-Jew and a Palestinian bff team I worked with who’d met each other in Tel Aviv. It’s interesting watching the reactions of typical fundie wingnuts (the bad team people) when I call the Gaza what it is, a reservation ghetto.

  6. V. Arnold permalink
    July 23, 2017

    Politics in the U.S. is shadow play.
    The candidates are cutouts in a Potemkin reality; having no legitimacy in fact, and are irrelevant.
    There is not one player worthy of a vote because it no longer matters who wins.
    Just look at the (very bad) theater of the absurd presently at play…

  7. semiconscious permalink
    July 24, 2017

    ‘If your tribal identification is running your determination of right or wrong, please check yourself out of politics until it isn’t…’

    i’d say this’s the point at which one says goodbye to rationality. & i’ve been astonished to see just how many on the left, at this point, have been quite comfortable doing just this…

  8. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    July 24, 2017

    Until we address the issue of Special Interest Groups and their undue & undemocratic influence, we can’t change a thing. We have to strategize a way to mitigate and ultimately do away with Special Interest Groups & Lobbying, otherwise we will remain factionalized & fragmented in perpetuity Spinning Our Wheels.

    Divided, We Fall

  9. July 24, 2017

    ‘If your tribal identification is running your determination of right or wrong, please check yourself out of politics until it isn’t…’

    Then everybody should check out of politics. We are all in multiple tribes simultaneously, and none of us can tell entirely which tribe or tribes are influencing our determinations of right and wrong. It is a cognitively impossible task.

    It is better to simply ask which political tribe is more in-line with your currently perceived determinations of right and wrong, and vote for that tribe. At least then you have slightly better odds of voting for the greater good or the lesser evil as currently being played in your own cognitive morality drama.

  10. EmilianoZ permalink
    July 24, 2017

    A lotta people who like Bernie did not vote for him in the primaries for the same reasons they did not vote for people like Kucinich. They were not seen as realistic candidates. Everybody knows the US are at heart a conservative capitalistic country. A socialist? Never!

  11. Rusty Cuss permalink
    July 25, 2017

    A note on the Japanese internment: A must read on the subject is “Magic, the untold story…” by David O. Lowman.

    There absolutely were Japanese espionage rings on the West Coast. Arresting them would have given away that we had broken several Japanese codes, diplomatic and military.

    It’s an eye opening collection of the original, documented, decoded messages after translation.

    It’s a “must read” to have an informed opinion on the matter, whatever your subsequent view.

  12. V. Arnold permalink
    July 25, 2017

    @ RC
    I’ve no doubt about your information; just what has it to do with this thread?

  13. realitychecker permalink
    July 25, 2017

    @ V. Arnold

    Would you rather discuss child prostitution in your new junta-ruled home?

    Maybe you are just too distracted to take my meaning above.

  14. Huckleberry permalink
    July 25, 2017

    >”If your tribal identification is running your determination of right or wrong, please check yourself out of politics until it isn’t.”

    That pretty much takes out 90% of humanity, bubs. Very egalitarian of you. Leaves only ideologues on the left and right, shills, and the majority native populations of northern Europe.

    Don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but tribalism is coming back into fashion, bigly. Send a Thank You card to the Globalists, both from finance and multicultural Marxism for this.

  15. realitychecker permalink
    July 25, 2017

    @ Huckleberry

    “That pretty much takes out 90% of humanity, bubs.”

    That’s right, it does.

    That is precisely why everything is so fucking fucked up. Good faith thinkers are going extinct.

    Survival of the unfittest?

    Darwin’s corpse trembles.

  16. Willy permalink
    July 25, 2017

    Has anybody had luck deprogramming cult tribalists? I tried starting out bitching like it’s the Bill O’Reilly show, then gradually moving to rants about neoliberalism. But they keep doing that Austin Powers fembot head pop thing.

  17. Hugh permalink
    July 25, 2017

    Curious. There is an argument which runs that we all belong to some tribe, we are therefore tribal, our tribalism determines our view of right and wrong, and thus Ian’s conclusion is wrong.

    This argument contains numerous errors. First, it equates membership in any group as tribal. This ignores that we all belong to many groups. Which of these is then determinative? Second, it treats all tribes as the same and deficient in the same way. (However, the ability to make such a statement negates the overall argument since it shows a super- or meta- perspective on tribes is possible, validating Ian’s approach.) Third, it ignores higher order concepts. You can belong to a group or groups at one level but also be a member of a larger group, society, at another. Fourth, along these lines, it ignores history where various groups in society have subordinated the good of the group for the good of society as a whole.

    Re Sanders, he and I agreed on several issues, but I never supported him because I was aware of his past record and knew he would fold. What we on the left or progressive circles, or whatever you want to call us, need are people who are both articulate and willing to fight. Re this, Schumer and Pelosi came out yesterday with their “Better Deal” which was supposed to be “bold and daring” and which even the usual liberal commentators admitted was neither. Tribalism and identity politics on both the left and the right are really all that remains in a political system dominated by two parties, both of which are intellectually and, as Ian notes, morally bankrupt. So yes, if you want meaningful change, then we are all going to have to look beyond any particular tribal loyalties we may have to the greater goods we have in common.

  18. Willy permalink
    July 25, 2017

    we are all going to have to look beyond any particular tribal loyalties we may have to the greater goods we have in common

    I’d assume we’re counting most evangelicals out of that one. Isn’t it the liberals who are trying to kill God, when Job# 1 for evangies is getting their asses up to heaven? (I’ve personally tried to divert the blame to “neoliberals” but with uncertain results so far.)

    The “good of society as a whole” is highly subjective. I would think “an easier life” is something the majority could agree on. Who wants to work twice as hard to pay for the same health cure as their parents got?

  19. July 25, 2017

    If we don’t stop bickering over whose imaginary dog has the bigger dick we may not survive at all. I would argue religion need be eliminated before tribalism. That’s the three legged stool that holds it all up: religion, tribalism and pornography.

    And yes, I just put The Church in bed with porn, how many little boys have been butt-fucked by Men Of God? I chuckle that Colombus and his crew, having gang-raped eight and nine year old native girls, died of syphilis. Animals bow down to gods. Humans do not.

  20. realitychecker permalink
    July 25, 2017

    @ Ten Bears

    “If we don’t stop bickering over whose imaginary dog has the bigger dick we may not survive at all.”

    I can’t help myself from pointing out that my real dog has the biggest dick imaginable. It’s actually quite embarrassing, not to mention humbling.

    I hope that stops some of the bickering.

    Just saying. 🙂

  21. July 25, 2017

    The problem, Ten Bears, is that you are just one more narrow minded, ignorant idiot among the billions inhabiting this world. You lack the imagination and experience to comprehend the need religion fills within the lives of those who happen to be religious. And then to attempt to link the religious with pedophilia identifies you as one of those partisans that Ian is ranting against. Of course, your final paragraph simply suggests you are a troll on a roll.

    BTW, did you see that study of trolls which linked psychopathy with trolling? I would suggest help but apparently there is no cure for psychopathy.

  22. Some Guy permalink
    July 26, 2017

    People are people. I recommend a post entitled, “Programmed to ignore” at the now defunct blog ‘Do the Math’ (google it, or duckduckgo it).

    There is a small percentage of the population that privileges knowing and acting in accordance with truth. Most people have more important priorities. You’re not going to get people to change their nature, you will need to appeal to them as they are. Personally, I don’t have the stomach for it, and I suspect you don’t either Ian. We are who we are.

  23. different clue permalink
    July 26, 2017

    I have found a living example of the partisanship being discussed on this blog . . . over at Naked Capitalism. It can be smelled to best effect in all the republished-tweets-part of the posted article.
    Here is the link.
    https://medium.com/athena-talks/go-back-to-school-little-girl-7782ca9d7c76

  24. different clue permalink
    July 26, 2017

    By the way, and apropo of nothing at all . . . . here is a link to all the “Ian Welsh Images” which come up when I yahoo-search “Ian Welsh”.

    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0LEV1ohIHhZ7n8AwzpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNWNiaW4yBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjI5NDRfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=ian+welsh&fr=sfp

    Why would I bother posting this? Because for week after week, a picture of Mustapha Kemal keeps coming up in the top tier of “Ian Welsh” images. There it is, in among all the pictures of all the Ian Welshes . . . a picture of Mustapha Kemal. I have no idea why. I just thought its the funniest thing.

  25. Willy permalink
    July 26, 2017

    My plan is to shout “Liberal!” in crowded church houses, then stuffing as many fleeing evangies as possible into large sacks to be taken away for deprogramming. So far I have Ten Bears and a large penis dog on my team, …maybe. Anybody else?

  26. Willy permalink
    July 26, 2017

    Actually, I know children of evangie-nuts who even after years of indoctrination, are starting to talk kinda rational. They may be figuring out that their parents were had. Some say the religious left is growing. Hopefully they wont just keep on moving left to wind up wearing green pantsuits with red star caps.

  27. July 26, 2017

    Drink some more kool-aid jag, turn on the tv.

    … attempt to link the religious with pedophilia …

    Not necessary, that link is well established.

  28. V. Arnold permalink
    July 26, 2017

    Ten Bears
    July 26, 2017

    Drink some more kool-aid jag, turn on the tv.
    … attempt to link the religious with pedophilia …
    Not necessary, that link is well established.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Indeed, the link is very well established. Jag is brain damaged…apparently…
    But then the war god Yahweh; a paternalistic (redundant?) war god, destroyed the goddess culture more than 5,000 years ago.
    It’s been down hill ever since
    I have a theory of/about intelligence; humans have a form of inferior intelligence, because it’s not geared for longevity. Whereas, most species intelligence is geared to/for survival, longevity.
    We’ll be done shortly, god willing…

  29. bob mcmanus permalink
    July 26, 2017

    First, ya know, ya got Nature. Just everything, Being. Nature vomited a mutant who drew on cave walls and we got Culture. Becoming. Culture is the opposite of Nature yet still Nature and inside of Nature. Not long at all, Culture starts changing Nature so much that it gets harder to see Nature inside of subsuming Culture and thus the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall.

    The Rational is an internal subset of the non-Rational with no place or part of the Rational outside. The Rational will attempt to mystify the Irrational but will always fail, leaving a contradiction that refutes the whole.

    You start with an Irrational commitment:Marxism, feminism, religion, justice, egoism, family, whatever. You look and find the contradictions between yourself, your commitment or body and the world seen through the affect. This is the Critique. It’s writing on cave walls. It’s all we got before we go. It’s enough.

  30. DMC permalink
    July 26, 2017

    Somewhat OT but germane to the discussion over-all:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2017/06/james_mcgill_buchanan_s_terrifying_vision_of_society_is_the_intellectual.html

    Briefly, it concerns a largely unheralded Nobel Prize economist who laid out the foundation for transforming the US into an OVERT plutocracy, with minimal government and vast numbers of not-even-serfs, at the behest of Charles Koch, along the lines of Hayek and von Mises but pushing it all the way.

    All tribes are equal but some are more equal than others.

  31. Willy permalink
    July 26, 2017

    Nature selected, and continues to produce, general percentages of indians and general percentages of chiefs. Nurture can sway things somewhat but the hardwired nature remains.

    I’d love more objective information about what general percentage of the population reasons tribal-partisan vs reasoning moral-rational. I’m guessing 30 and 5 percent hard cores. And maybe double those percentages are more pliable softies. I’d love this information because successful politicians don’t leave home without it, and use it to fuel their “success”.

  32. Hugh permalink
    July 26, 2017

    We in the 80% must hang together or we will hang separately. Tribalism, whether on the right or left, is about hanging separately.

  33. realitychecker permalink
    July 26, 2017

    Hard to explain to lemmings why a cliff is not their friend.

  34. Willy permalink
    July 26, 2017

    At least MSNBC recently topped FoxNews, led by Maddow. Woohoo. She once said she admired Murdoch. Maybe she’s a lemming whisperer too.

Comments are closed.