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Loyalty Politics

I recently attended a local Democratic Party rally. There were a couple of reasons for doing so. First, I agree with their views on the topic in question and second, because there are no Democrats in my race, I hoped to make a few connections to the local Party that might help turn votes in my direction. It's that second part that I want to talk about. While it's possible that some of the people I met at this event will tell their Democratic friends about me, the larger factor that I encountered there could only be referred to as "loyalty politics". At this event, it wasn't about our agreement on the issue itself or the fact that I am the only candidate in this race who agrees with their position on that issue. It seems to me that their open disdain toward me was solely about the fact that I am not a Democrat, and that any success I might have on this issue will not directly and specifically benefit their tribe. Their position on the issue was secondary; it was more about them being able to claim a win against their opponent.

"I was brought up to believe the universe has a plan. We are only human; it's not ours to understand."

I mean, let's face the facts: if you are a Democratic voter, what are the actual chances that you would vote for any candidate that is NOT a Democrat? Even if that candidate is the only person in the race who is not a Republican AND agrees with you on an issue that is personally important to you? This same question could be asked of a Republican and it would achieve a similar result. Loyalty politics ensures that members of a political party will almost always vote for that party's political candidates. And party candidates depend heavily on this 'loyalty' factor even if (or especially when) their stated position on an issue contradicts the commonly-viewed party position. As a result, much of a candidate's general election campaign efforts skew toward convincing non-party voters to vote for them. "Vote for me because I'm not with *that* party." Yes, this includes my own campaign.

"The universe has a plan; all is for the best. Some will be rewarded and the devil will take the rest."

So, how does this happen? First, we need to understand that (1) our perceptions drive most of our behaviors, and that our perceptions are quite often different from the perceptions of others. For instance, it's interesting to note how differently a full room of diverse people would describe the same political debate after viewing it together. We are all members of the invisible (or sometimes openly visible) social, economic, and political tribes or social groups that define our individual identities and thereby filter our perceptions. It's from this amalgam that we draw our conclusions about almost everything and everyone else. And whether or not we realize it, it's simple human nature to automatically assume that anyone outside of our accepted group(s) has ill intentions toward our group. It's in our nature to have contempt for and/or distrust those who are outside of our social group. Psychologists refer to this as "attribution bias".

"All is for the best; believe in what we're told. Blind men in the market buying what we're sold."

Now, I will grant that loyalty to a specific group probably has a few advantages, but one of the biggest disadvantages that I see is that our tribal natures frequently create major barriers to collaboration and social progress. For instance, how do Democrat voters typically view Democratic candidates versus Republican candidates, and vice versa? Once we have aligned ourselves with a particular tribe or social group, it becomes relatively simple for influencers and manipulators to fuel our negative perceptions of outsiders with rhetoric and accusations. Later, once a group has become entrenched in its position and starts amplifying potential threats and fueling further contempt for rival groups and their members, facts and reason expressed by rivals are easily dismissed as lies or half-truths. It's when our loyalty to a specific group has become so strong that it has become unconditional that we lose the ability to think independently of that group as well as the ability to make independent rational decisions. Psychologists refer to this as "confirmation bias", or as political pundits have taken to calling it, "drinking the Kool-Aid". This is what long-time partisans don't seem to understand about younger voters; party loyalty doesn't seem to matter to them.

"In a world of cut and trust, I was always taught to trust. In a world where all must fail, Heaven's justice will prevail."

During the early part of the 2016 election, predominantly young voters were excited about one specific candidate, but after one specific event, those young voters completely disappeared. Part of it was probably because their candidate was drummed out of the race, but another part of it was probably because they began to see that the remaining political discourse between the two big-headed (pig-headed?) candidates had become so partisan, so irrational, and so personally petty that they simply wanted no part of such a demeaning political system. Clearly, based on these results, we are all worse off when something like this happens.

"The joy and pain the we receive each comes with its own cost. The price of what we're winning is the same as what we've lost."

Let me be perfectly clear; there's really nothing wrong with loyalty politics. If you want to vote for your chosen candidate based on party loyalty, all I have to say about it is that at least you're voting and making your voice heard, but in my view, loyalty politics is far too restrictive. But don't just take my word for it, look at it for yourself. Forget about which political party my opponent and I represent and look at what we each have to say about the issues that personally matter to you, then make your choice from there. It's only then that you can talk openly about "voting your conscience", and not be accused of "drinking the Kool-Aid".


Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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