Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
Luke Fuszard, Tribune News Service
I have a tricky relationship with my in-laws. We get along just fine, but we disagree on politics. They are Republicans; I am a Democrat. They voted for Trump; I voted for Hillary. For much of the past two years, I have found it increasingly difficult to view my in-laws through anything other than the prism of partisanship.
“How could such good, honest people support Trump?” I’ve often wondered. Sometimes it’s even made me angry. No matter that my in-laws are wonderful grandparents and regular volunteers for the less fortunate. Their politics trumped everything (pun intended).
Eventually, I mustered the courage to ask what drove them to vote the way they did.
“Oh, we didn’t support Trump because we like him,” my mother-in-law assured me. “We just can’t stand Hillary.”
Initially stunned by her answer, I later learned that my in-laws were hardly alone. In a poll taken shortly before the 2016 election, the Pew Research Center found that 53% of Donald Trump’s supporters were mainly motivated by their dislike for Hillary Clinton. And 46% of Clinton’s supporters were driven mostly by animus to Trump.
Political scientists call this “negative partisanship,” and it’s becoming a main feature of the modern political landscape as we head into another presidential campaign. A November 2018 Axios poll revealed that more than 20% of Democrats and Republicans characterise the other party as “evil.” About half of each affiliation saw the other as spiteful and ignorant.
There are even studies showing that more people than before are picking their spouses based on political views. As a result, Americans are increasingly separating into competing political tribes.
The rise of tribalism is not any one party’s (or person’s) fault. Instead, it is the result of our brain’s evolution.
Beginning some 200,000 years ago, early homo sapiens joined small tribes to heighten their own individual chance of survival in a world of scarce resources. Over several centuries, the brain learned to be on high alert against potential opponents who were viewed as competitors for those same resources. Tribalism is literally hot-wired into us.
Meanwhile, the brain has spent less than 500 years operating in an industrial society. Food supply no longer restricts the human population in developed countries and most live in communities where their physical safety is not constantly under threat. In fact, people who study such things say the world is actually safer than ever before.
Modern challenges — globalisation, drug epidemics, climate change — require collaboration, not competition, across groups of people. But our brains are not inclined to view the world this way.
Recently, I came across a Central Michigan University study into a way to reduce implicit biases against differing racial groups. After completing a baseline assessment, a group of college students were told to practice mindfulness meditation for as little as 10 minutes. Afterward, they re-took the implicit biases test.
Those who had completed the mindfulness activity demonstrated less prejudice against people of different races compared to their non-meditative counterparts. Quite simply, participants overcame their negative preconceptions against others through meditation, which included acknowledging and reflecting on implicit biases.
By practicing my own mindfulness meditation, I realised that alleviating the tension with my in-laws started with me. Going through this process re-opened the door to a more compassionate relationship with my in-laws.
I still don’t care for Trump, and they still loathe Hillary Clinton, but I’ve managed to get past the anger and focus on the good. My hope is that the rest of America can do the same.
A video that President Donald Trump re-tweeted that included the soundtrack of a Batman movie was pulled from his account due to copyright violations.
The horror of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have led to calls for more gun control legislation. And while most of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have mentioned such legislation in passing up into this point, former vice president Joe Biden has upped the ante with an op-ed in the New York Times.
Traditional TV is a dying business and Trump knows it. The real fun is on social media. And so what great news it is that the former president is planning a return to social on his very own platform, according to a spokesman on Fox News. Jason Miller
A sound mind in a sound body, is a maxim attributed to the Greek philosopher, Thales, of sixth century Before the Common Era (BCE), and it has been assumed that it is true. It looks like that no one checked it out. The maxim has its own merits in very many ways. But it seems that it is not holding up after a lapse of 2,500 years.
The unexpected loser in Tuesday’s special Texas congressional election was Susan Wright, the widow of the North Texas suburban district’s former Republican representative. But the bigger loser may have been former President Donald Trump.
With coronavirus deaths rising in Myanmar, allegations are growing from residents and human rights activists that the military government, which seized control in February, is using the pandemic to consolidate power and crush opposition.
As the United States wrestles with how to curb the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant — and President Joe Biden launches a push to get federal workers vaccinated — it’s painful to compare our struggle with that of the rest of the world.