It is a fact universally acknowledged that every time a member of a political party is criticized by members of their own party, the Internet will get very excited and angry. Don’t they understand that this threatens their own party’s future? some yell, while Don’t they understand that this person is betraying the party? is yelled back — and quickly things escalate and lead to long-simmering grudges which may at first seem odd.
Today, I want to divide up American politics not along the axis of Red and Blue, or of any of the popular variations on that, but to try something a little more extreme: to chop up American politics into a collection of basic ideologies that shape people’s political lives, and then see how ideas like “political party” sit uncomfortably on top of them — as they must, because people’s ideas change much more rapidly than large organizations ever could.
To begin with, I’m going to draw a diagram of my best guess of how to describe the major political ideas running around in the US today. These groups are far from mutually exclusive, and we’ll end up seeing how their overlaps can be very important. The picture also isn’t drawn to scale; it would be very hard to estimate head counts for any of these, further than to guess that the smallest of these groups probably represents well over ten million people, and the largest well over a hundred million.
I will freely admit that many of the details below may be wrong, and yet I think that understanding them (and critiquing them) can help understand what’s really happening in our country today.