The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans Is How Large We Define Our Tribe

Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

I’ve been wondering for years what the fundamental difference between democrats and republicans is. There are a number of differences in policy, of course, but I’ve always wondered if there was something more fundamental than those surface policies. A good portion of people who are democrat will vote that way and stay that way their whole life. A good portion of people who are republican will vote that way stay that way their whole life. We’re in the midst of an election where it is definitely the case that people are unlikely to sway one way or the other. So, what’s the fundamental difference?

People who are democrats tend to describe their “tribe” more expansively, ranging from everyone in the country, to all people in friendly nations, to every person in the world. People who are republicans tend to describe their “tribe” more constrainedly, ranging from the individual, to family, to county, to state, to country.

Policy Consequences From “Tribe” Size

People are okay helping out those in their own “tribe.” If a person’s “tribe” is their family, they’re okay spending time and money to help them out — be it a money problem, drug problem, etc. If a person’s “tribe” is all the people within the country, they’re okay with spending time and money to help them out — across the same challenges.

Nobody wants to support people who they don’t consider part of their tribe.

To Resolve Differences Between Democrats and Republicans We Should Have Real Discussions About Who We As A Country Consider Part Of Our Tribe

The conflicts won’t end and likely will become more intense if we talk on the surface of issues, but avoid discussing the fundamental difference. We need to have open eared discussions about what the size of our tribe should be and why. Democrats should be willing to limit some of the expansiveness of their “tribe” definition. Republicans should be willing to expand some of the restrictiveness of their “tribe” definition. Both sides should be willing to come together on this because, objectively speaking, unity is better for our country than division.

The conversation of “tribe” size will and should be an ongoing discussion. The definition will expand in some years, and contract in others. We should reach and agreed upon a definition, and stay in lock step from that point.

Some Tough Questions

  • Does our tribe include ALL citizens of the United States?
  • Does our tribe include citizens of all races?
  • Does our tribe include citizens of different political parties?
  • Does our tribe include the people of friendly nations?
  • Does our tribe include the people of both friendly and unfriendly nations?
  • Does our tribe include citizens who have committed crimes?
  • Does our tribe include people with mental illness?
  • Does our tribe include the old?
  • Does our tribe include the young?
  • Does our tribe include immigrants?
  • Does our tribe include the unemployed?
  • Does our tribe include the very wealthy?
  • Does our tribe include the sick?
  • Does our tribe include the uneducated?
  • Does our tribe include the unmotivated?
  • Does our tribe include the addicted?
  • Does our tribe include animals?
  • Does our tribe include unborn babies?

Who is in our tribe?

Final Thoughts

Here’s a quote of someone who said it best:

Unity, objectively speaking, is better for our country than division. We must have discussions about who our “tribe” is in order to increase unity. This will be an ongoing conversation in which the definition of “tribe” will expand and contract over time. By discussing and meeting at an agreement on “tribe” we can move forward in unity.

Software engineer.

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