Thank you to the majority of Alabamians for loving our country more than you hated Democrats. Thank you for voting as citizens, not as members of a tribe.
.. I have peered into this tribal abyss.
.. Back in the late 1970s, when I was covering the Lebanese civil war, a story made the rounds in Beirut that the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia had come up with a novel way of discovering a Palestinian trying to pass through one of its checkpoints. The Phalangists would show the driver a tomato and ask: What’s this? If the driver used the standard Lebanese pronunciation, “banadurra,” he was allowed to pass. If he used the Palestinian pronunciation, “bandora,” he could be pulled out of his car and shot on the spot.
That is tribal politics at its raw essence: It doesn’t matter how you live your life or what you aspire to for your society. All that matters is your sectarian or tribal identity, revealed by how you pronounce the word for tomato.
Middle Easterners have a saying for this kind of thinking: “Me and my brother against my cousin. Me, my brother and my cousin against the outsider.”.. Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya tell CNBC on Tuesday that social media is creating a society that confuses “popularity” with “truth.”
What was repudiated in Massachusetts in early 2010 was a specific policy course: The Obama White House’s pursuit of a sweeping and complex health care bill in the teeth of an enormous recession, which unsettled voters who wanted hope and change only so long as the latter didn’t affect their health-insurance premiums.
.. The fact that Coakley was a terrible candidate made it easier for Scott Brown to torpedo her, but the backlash against Obamacare, the feeling that a liberal president had turned too soon from seeking growth to seeking redistribution, was an essential element in her defeat.
.. There is an unpopular Republican tax bill now to echo the unpopular Democratic health care bill eight years ago, but policy is a much smaller part of what was repudiated last night in Alabama. It was not so much a rejection of the Trump agenda as it was a rejection of the whole Trumpian mode of politics,
.. a fervent commitment to “triggering the libs” shorn of any populist substance, and a cocksure assumption that any Republicans who aren’t in it for the liberal-triggering care enough about
- judges and
- abortion or their
- tax cuts or
- the soaring stock market
to swallow hard and go along.
.. it’s also a pretty clear foretaste of what you get when you distill white identity politics to a nasty essence and then try to build a coalition around it.
.. You get massive Democratic turnout, black turnout in particular, slumping Republican turnout, and a whole lot of write-in votes from people who should be your supporters. You get Democrats winning elections in the most unlikely places. And you get, quite probably, a Democratic majority in the House and perhaps even the Senate.
.. team Obama decided to stay the course for what were debatable but also rational reasons — the theory that a sweeping health care bill would be simply worth the political pain and midterm election losses required to get it passed.
.. No such rationality exists in the Trump White House, no such cost-benefit analyses are conducted, no such vision for what the president wants as his legacy exists. You can’t change course without a map; you can’t change your plan when you don’t have one to begin with. Maybe we’ll get a new and “presidential” Trump for a few days or even a couple of weeks after this debacle; maybe there will be talk of reaching out beyond the Hannity demographic and trying to act like the president of all Americans for a while. But none of it should be taken seriously. Trump can control himself for a short time here and there, but tomorrow is always another day
.. Trump who would rather have the G.O.P. fall in ruins around him than give up on his feuds and insults and absurd behavior