"I believe the election of Donald Trump illuminates a true paradigm shift in American politics, a shift away from a politics driven at base by issues to one driven identify," she says. "In the rise of bother Bernie Sanders' progressive populism and Donald Trump's nationalist populism, we are increasingly seeing voters choosing a new sort of Internet-era tribalism, banding together communities so like-minded that they serve as echo chambers for shared hopes and fears alike."
According to Bennett, this new era of tribalism is enabled and exacerbated by the Internet and technology.
"Increasingly, there are no gatekeepers, and the barrier to entry into the larger discourse is so low as to be non-existent," she says. "As a result, smaller groups can have a larger voice, and our political institutions have become increasingly fractious coalitions of polarized fractions."
She continued, "The Democratic Party tries to coalesce Bernie's socialist tribe, the mainline Clinton progressives, environmentalist groups, groups defined by gender and race, and more. The Republican tent holds mainline fiscal conservatives, the Tea Party, Trump's nationalist populists, religiously motivated groups, and several flavors of libertarians. It's messy, much more gray area than the clearly drawn lines we wish existed to make our choices easier."
Bennett explains that there are pros and cons to tribalism. The main advantage is that tribalism produces a commonality of purpose or belief and tribes can be very enthusiastic, compelling and passionate. This creates leaders like Trump who will challenge what's gone on before and take risks, while encouraging others to do the same. If this energy can be properly harnessed, Bennett says we could have the potential to take on the challenging global future.
While tribalism has advantages, it also has a dark side. According to Bennett, tribalism can create an "us versus them" feeling. This causes tribes to view others as the enemy. It produces a "If you're not with us you're against us" mentality.
Though the election is over, the problems the country is facing are far from it. Bennett explains that while tribes provide hold us up in times of uncertainty, no single tribe can fix the problems the country is facing or your individual problems.
"As is so often the case, my advice in this time of change boils down to this: gather your own information, listen to many viewpoints, and in the end make your own decisions," says Bennett. "Protect your wealth, protect your future. By doing so thoughtfully, you will of necessity be engaging beyond your own tribes, and your voice will have a chance to contribute to the conversation that must take place to lead our country into the future."