Thank you again for your response. This is interesting because we are coming at it from different directions.
While there has always been an element of tribalism, it seems like 9–11 really pushed things to the edge and there was an evolution at hyper speed.
We had a couple of narratives before but the good vs. evil narrative replaced the “we are all in this together” narrative and it has been pretty horrific.
Right after the event, it was us (the good who are not terrorists) against the terrorists (evil)
then it was us (the US) against other countries and the terrorists
then it was us (Republicans) against Democrats, other countries and terrorists
then it was us (“real patriots” often wrapped up in religion) against Rino’s, Democrats, other countries and terrorists
The “us” was always the side of good and things became hyper tribal in a way that also made compromise impossible.
(This explains why they will equate Democrats with terrorists — because in the frame, all evil is bad and the difference is really not significant.)
Once a person has proven himself to be on the side of good lines get blurred and some crazy stuff starts to happen because good is good. Everything gets run through that filter.
Enter Trump who ingratiated himself into the eco system by being against Obama (who they hated). Obama was evil incarnate. That is all Trump had to do (hate Obama) and once he was with them…he was good. Regardless.
And I agree that the soil is still fertile for someone else to rise and create a mess. I also agree that it could happen on the left. Fear is the driver and used to be mostly a thing on the right (the left should buried their head in the sand and was unaware of what was happening which is a whole other problem) but Trump has now brought fear to the left. That fear can be exploited as it was on the right.
I also cover the nature of media in my book. They are about entertainment, ratings and profit. Not about information or education. There is a penalty for not getting ratings. There is no penalty to misinforming viewers.
When I was finishing up my master degree in media psychology in 2011, I discovered that we were on a very bad path. I was studying criminal justice but the same psychology and mentality that allowed for rampant injustice was the same framing that was used in our social and economic polices. It was like someone greased the skids, took off the breaks and safety rails. We could and would eventually end up in a bad place.
After a number of years, we are in that spot or getting closer.
And from a psychology standpoint, there is no bottom. No natural inflection point where people come to their senses. (We have seen historically too how bad this can get.) It just gets worse and worse and worse until people get a hold of themselves but I don’t see the will for that now (or yet).
We will see what the future holds…