Trump, Cruz, and the Parent Tribe vs the Red Tribe

In the current year of 2016, the Republican Party is faced with a serious challenge in its nomination process.  Do they pick the guy the supporters of the Tribe of Parents want or do they pick the guy the supporters of the Red Tribe* want?

Trump voters are parent tribalists more often than Cruz voters, who are rock-ribbed Red Tribers.  Palin is relevant here as an example of a pure-outsider to the Red Tribe.

Members of the Tribe of Parents are interested in practical natalism and improving conditions for people who have children (implicitly, married people).

The Red Tribe is strivers.  Red Tribe folks are much more interested in affinity clubs/groups.  The Tribe of Parents is more interested in local community groups.

Trump talks like a parent, making practical and tangible promises.  Cruz talks like a striver, emphasizing in-group jargon and abstraction as a sign of superiority to the outgroup.

Palin was criticized within the right for being vulgar and interested in financial security for her family after her moment of fame passed.  She was criticized for thinking and behaving like a parent.  Now the same people are bringing very similar criticisms to bear on Trump, that he is a huckster and con artist and vulgar and just trying to use this race to increase his personal wealth.  In other words, that he is committing the crime of being a parent instead of a striver devoted to higher abstract principles than his own children.

Red Tribe strivers tend to engage in SJW style projection about how wanting to preserve something for people who aren’t bound by affinity is hucksterism.  Red Tribe strivers use the fact that Trump supporters aren’t articulate as a proof that they’re being conned by Trump.  But being inarticulate about basic beliefs in God, family and country are normal and human…and average.  Strivers are defined by their insistence upon and investment in the notion that they’re above average.  So the Red Tribe loves a wonkish personality selling them their comforting beliefs but presume that a non-wonk isn’t sophisticated enough to learn how to join their club.

This is a concept I’m working out in real time, but I think it’s key to understanding larger cultural shifts going on of which Trump is just one piece.


*The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.  This definition from Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex is not exactly right, but it’s not all that wrong either.  What it mostly gets wrong is the striver aspect of Red Tribe folks, who have buckets of strivers in their midst.


13 thoughts on “Trump, Cruz, and the Parent Tribe vs the Red Tribe

  1. Is Trump really like that? I’ve been following his platform and his speeches lately and it appears he’s doing the typical political crap by flip-flopping. It’s kind of disappointing.


    • Trump’s concerns are concrete. His proposed solutions are real things you can see and understand easily. This is not what the other candidates are doing, especially not Ted Cruz, who is the only other one putting up a showing in the nominating process. I’m not talking about these two guys in terms of what they can or can’t do when elected, I’m talking about what drives support of them.

      People who support Cruz aren’t seriously concerned about whether their children can be employed well enough to support a family (male or female). They just want “their guy”to get the nomination and then lose so they can feel like they voted on Godly principle and everyone else just wasn’t doing that.

      That is why Cruz supporters don’t realize how alienating he is outside the base. Much like SWPLs, they don’t really get that they’re in a bubble on that, as SWPLs are about various SWPL tribal markers.

      This isn’t to say Trump isn’t polarizing, but he’s got a broader range of appeal outside the base precisely because he talks about solid, simple things like, a wall. Or just stating that trade deals have to be negotiated. I can’t even remember HEARING candidates state that obvious thing.

      TLDR; Trump talks like a parent, and has the concerns of a parent. Cruz talks like a striver and has the concerns of a striver, whether they are parents or not.


  2. To me it is rather disgusting to see that Trump is doing better than Santorum this time around. Santorum was much more the parental candidate, and his policies were much more clear, but apparently people want the moral degenerate huckster instead.
    I am not fond of Trumpet or his Strumpets.


    • This is also a critical sign of cultural change. I think traditional conservatism is increasingly done for. Of course, it was already done for, but now it is increasingly so. 🙂


      • I wonder why Kasich didn’t gain steam. Establishment Republicanism is being overshadowed by Tea Partiers, but Tea Partiers are being drawfed by Trump.

        Personally, Santorum seemed very pro-war and less domestically-inclined. I’d rather see a candidate focus more on domestic issues.


        • I remember Santorum’s run back in 2012, he was overly pro-war (and probably a heretic on torture) but was stridently conservative on domestic issues.

          Kasich is considered too weak on Obamacare and basically said he had no interest in supporting bakers who have been fined for baking cakes, and that killed him with social conservatives. He is a centrist at this point, and no longer a conservative.


      • There is no such thing as traditional conservatism now. In fact, many people including myself are developing a problem with conservatism. What used to be known as conservatism is actually moderate or centrist, at best.

        In fact, even the mere term “traditional” is becoming non-existent. What we all consider traditional is changing too rapidly. It’s why we’re “alternative” right.

        Liked by 1 person

        • A good point. Unfortunately, too many of those who call themselves “alternative” are just NatSocs in alternative clothing, as we sometimes discuss here.


  3. I can kinda-sorta understand his appeal, but in the end, there is no way I can really actually know what he stands for. He’s pretty much a chameleon. Most people in my experience, when it comes down to it, are moderate and not anywhere near being a “striver” in their political or day-to-day beliefs, so truly, America may just get what it really wants this time around. It will be a strange world if/when Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump are POTUS. Weird.

    I voted for Cruz, and the definition of Red Tribe broke down in its description of me after conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, and against gay marriage. Pretty much everything else on that list is uhhhh, no. Those are the Republicans I argue with (I.e. My MIL). I would probably be closest to a “crunchy con,” but I agree with Maea that a lot of us ’round these parts really are just “alternative right.”

    Trump has always just oozed “sleazeball” to me–now as he runs his campaign, and for the last decade or more. I can hardly stand to watch him. He’s also a liar and alters history (what his stances have been or what he has said/done) regularly to fit whatever mold he is trying to fit that day. It’s slimy and grosses me out.


  4. It was goofy, but my kids get like that with me and I can imagine being on the road and just being the kid of a guy running for President would be strange and stressful and annoying, at that age especially. So, I didn’t really read into it that much and didn’t think it was that bad/strange–I was expecting something way worse. Trump is much weirder and stranger to me. ha ha Trust me I’m not a die-hard fan of Cruz or anything. It honestly boiled down to, ok, who can I vote for who is better than Trump? Just, Trump doesn’t value the things I think would be important as a President to value–for example, let’s impeach Clinton for his affairs but lets elect Trump whose bragged about and has no shame about his own? Um…unless he’s had some sort of major life change in the last year or so, I’m not buying it.

    The video that I saw on him being asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, a pretty straightforward answer for anyone who is actually a Christian, was so odd and uncomfortable…I just couldn’t see him as anything different than a regular politician at that point. I know that Cruz has been a lone soldier at in the Senate and honestly that made me rethink supporting him.

    And yet. I don’t really see us getting a good president from this point on. And I’m not banking any hopes on that either (and never have). I’m so tired of listening to people who think that a good president is going to fix everything that’s wrong with America. I don’t see Cruz winning (people are too focused on his “weird face”, ha ha) and so..further downward we will spiral.

    Which is why I come here, to read about and dream about something close to or like the Benedict Option and pretend that something of that nature could actually happen to ‘fix’ society, and to know I’m not insane in thinking traditional conservatism doesn’t have actual meaning anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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