Tuesday, May 11, 2021
May 11, 2021

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Letter: Thrill of conflict fuels partisanship


As voters, our dysfunctional partisan government may not be what we think we need, but it’s definitely the one we want. Despite all our technology and scientific development, we are still largely emotional beings, more intent on feeling than thinking. Our instinctive tribal loyalties run deep.

Anciently, we only survived because our tribe survived, and the drive to support our tribe against all outside threats is an extremely powerful instinct. We see it in today’s sports. As fans we are strongly bound to our favorite team. The bigger the game, or threat, the greater the emotion. The thrill of competition is why we watch.

Politics are the same. We belong to tribes and we engage in emotional tribal battle. The greater the threat, real or imagined, the greater the thrill. We enhance that thrill by demonizing our opponents: liberal, conservative, Black, white, immigrant, police, eventually we are all someone’s demon, and they ours.

It’s this addiction to the thrill of conflict that has created today’s partisan government. The quiet satisfaction of compromise and solving problems in an evidence-based reality is boring by comparison. As voters we relish the emotional buzz of battle and crave the partisan government that provides it.

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