Tribalism (triumphs) in America


Most interestingly, Sullivan proposes a response to tribalism that is not structural but essentially spiritual. He urges a renewed appreciation of individuality, citing himself — a gay Catholic, conservative independent, religious secularist — as a misfit challenge to tribal conformity. As an evangelical Christian sympathetic to gay rights, a Republican critic of Trump and a compassionate conservative, I can relate. We need a political system that makes room for human complexity.

Sullivan also urges “mutual forgiveness” as the basis for genuine reconciliation. “No tribal conflict,” he says, “has ever been unwound without magnanimity.” We need the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela in our politics, which is essentially to call for a miracle. It is the secret strength of democracy that miracles occasionally happen.

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