The virus of tribalism is putting democracies in danger

In the US and elsewhere, leaders find it easier to resort to tribal appeals focused on identity than do the hard work of coalition-building and compromise in pluralistic societies

Police officers deploy teargas at protesters outside the White House in Washington, on June 1, 2020.PHOTO: NYTIMES

(NYTIMES) - One day, 1,000 years from now, when they dig up this era, archaeologists will surely ask how it was that a great power called America set out to make the Middle East more like itself - embracing pluralism and the rule of law - and ended up instead becoming more like the Middle East - mimicking its worst tribal mores and introducing a whole new level of lawlessness into its national politics?

Middle Easterners may call their big tribes "Shi'ites" and "Sunnis" and Americans may call theirs "Democrats" and "Republicans", but they each seem to operate increasingly with a conformist, us-versus-them mindset, albeit at different intensity levels.

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