Donald J. Trump lost his re-election campaign for President of the United States. This is a fact.
As of now, former Vice-President Joe Biden has received almost 80 million votes to Trump’s nearly 74 million. Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. No matter how you slice this election, Joe Biden won and he won handily. That said, even with all ballots, data and evidence clearly showing a Biden win, Donald Trump refuses to concede, citing voter fraud and interference as the reason.
While Trump makes these extremely serious allegations with no evidence, he is still receiving alarming support from some fellow GOP politicians, as well as many supporters who preach that this election has been stolen. In this specific situation, there is an abundance of motivators and reasons as to why people still support Trump’s campaign to delegitimize the election, here are just a few of them:
(1) There are the GOP politicians that are holding on to any possibility of retaining their power that would follow their leader to the ends of the earth.
(2) There are those that seek to benefit economically from a Republican candidate remaining President.
(3) There are the people who (somehow) believe the conspiracy being peddled by Trump, Giuliani and others that the Democrats stole the election from the Republican Party, or at least enough to doubt the election process.
And, very alluringly, (4) there are the loyalists whose political identity has now transcended ideological commitments and values.
This fourth group is an especially interesting case and, in today’s world, increasingly important. In the following essay, I want to talk a bit about how political party affiliation has begun to transcend politics altogether and how damaging this development can be.
Political parties exist, in part, to simplify the voting decision for the people. Due to the average American not being (and unable to be) experts on all political policy matter, parties whittle down decisions from many to just two or three (Mason).
That said, while political parties in a basic sense are just one set of ideals versus another set of ideals, there is also an aspect of party loyalty that goes along with this. This party loyalty, which somewhat bypasses logic and reasoning, energizes the base of a political party, which can be a very good thing.
A political democratic system works best when more people are involved, so when there is a strong sense of loyalty present in a parties following, the base is more likely to participate in the political system (Mason).
However, too much of this energy can also be a bad thing. Heightened party loyalty can lead to a more tribal view of politics that, instead of allowing people to seek compromise and work together, only further separates them… and that is what’ve been seeing as of late.
Party loyalty and identity has taken priority over political ideologies for many people, leading to a more tribal, divided America than we’ve seen before. When people see members of opposite parties these days, they don’t see people they have ideological disagreements with but instead just see people they don’t like. In fact, a PEW study done in 2019 showed the majority of people having negative views of those in the opposing political party. Commonalities between Americans are falling to the wayside while an ‘us vs. them’ mentality is taking over.
This has hugely negative ramifications for the state of the country, mainly because tensions are intensifying and anger between both sides is increasing. People think of those on ‘the other side of the aisle’ less and less as fellow Americans and more as enemies.
It is easier to imagine the United States right now as divided in two rival sports fan bases. Both sides began simply rooting for their respective teams, but as time went on and things got grittier, tensions rose and the fans got more involved leading to a hatred of the other team. This hatred has now blossomed into an emotion that is on par with having the fans own base winning—they view these sentiments as equals. Politics is not a sport and the consequences of winners and losers is obviously more severe than it is in professional sports, but for many this is how it is being treated.
So why exactly is this a big deal?
Well, we have already seen a trend of some people putting party allegiance before ideologies. This is dangerous. What we haven’t seen as much of (until now) is people putting party allegiances before establishments and systems put in place by the Constitution. THIS IS EXTREMELEY DANGEROUS.
The Trump administrations repeated undermining of the Presidential election voting process is destructive and bad for democracy, but with such little evidence that voter fraud is actually going on, I argue that the continued support by Trump’s base is a two way street. People have to choose to ignore the lack of evidence to continue to support Trump’s lost cause push for the White House, and some of this willful ignorance comes from a party first mentality. Evidence proving Trump’s claims to be true would be helpful to this base, but without said evidence it wouldn’t matter; Trump is their leader and they would follow him to the ends of the earth on nothing but his word… and why? Because having their party win over the opposing one is priority number 1.
We are verging on the point now where some people feel that a win for their party is more important than following the rules at all. This misses the entire point of a political, democratic system and is leading to a more divided America.
According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 28% of Americans believed the past election to be “the result of illegal voting or election rigging”. Not only is this number way bigger than you’d expect, but the people who believe this are making these assumptions with no evidence to back up these claims. Some of this could be naivety or could be attributed to people succumbing to voting system doubt tactics put on display by the Trump team, but a lot of this number is a blind following based on party loyalty.
We are seeing Party loyalty begin to supersede other values more and more frequently. This is a shame because a devout, energized base is good for political parties… but only to an extent. With an increasing number of Americans sharing an ‘us vs. them’ mentality against people in their own country, party lines have never been more significant. Americans are beginning to forget what they were fighting for in the first place… and it could prove very, very costly.