There have been countless studies conducted in the past decade that show that Americans are becoming more tribal than ever with their political affiliations. We’re no longer willing to even be friends with people outside our political bubbles studies show. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: There have been countless studies conducted in the past decade that show that Americans are becoming more tribal than ever with their political affiliations. We’re no longer willing to even be friends with people outside our political bubble. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins joins me to talk about this problem that is a huge problem. Farron, first of all, it’s group identity is the whole catch phrase right here. This need for kind of a collective belonging. I have to be on this baseball team. I need to be on this football team. I need to wear the colors all the time. If my team loses, things are really bad. They internalize all that and make it a personal kind of way that they live their lives. And it’s the weirdest thing that I’ve seen. You’re seeing the change, aren’t you?

Farron Cousins: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Papantonio: I’m certainly seeing the change. I can’t even put my, I mean, it makes my head spin. What’s your take on this?

Farron Cousins: It’s interesting because we’ve talked about this a lot and we set out, let’s find what’s really going on. And there have been multiple studies over the last few years that have all proven the same thing. There’s been self polling. People personally reporting like, yeah, I will not go and have lunch with a Republican. I won’t date a Democrat. I won’t be in their social circles because it’s me and my team. And one, you have this Johns Hopkins political scientist, Lilliana Mason.

Mike Papantonio: I was so fascinated by that study.

Farron Cousins: It’s such a great quote. They say, instead of going into the voting booth and asking, what do I want my elected representatives to do for me, they’re thinking, if my party loses, it’s not just that my policy preferences aren’t going to get done, it’s who I think I am, my place in the world, my religion, my race, the many parts of my identity are all wrapped up in that one vote.

Mike Papantonio: How sick is that? I mean, how sick is that really? Doesn’t it remind you of these numb nuts that show up at a football game and get into fights over what’s happening on the field? That’s how crazy this has become. It’s become, like, rather than raising the intellectual discussion at all, they move into this area to where they are losers if their party loses. They’re somehow suffering if something doesn’t go right for their party. They pick up their iPad and read the news that day and they’re happy or sad according to which team is ahead, which team is losing. It’s actually causing mental dysfunction. It’s causing mental problems. And some of them, the great thing is our staff is able to, when you look at some comments sometimes, we of course we just get rid of ’em. If somebody’s so crazy that they come out and attack you or attack me because of what we say, they’re gone. I mean, it’s a zero tolerance. And we do that. I don’t mind a discussion about what’s going on. Let’s talk about this topic. But the anger and the dedication to that baseball team is so crazy that they can’t even carry on a conversation without personal attacks, rather than just say, let me think about what they’re saying. I might disagree with it. I don’t agree with what they’re saying, but let me at least think about it. You’ve got an American public, and interestingly enough, the age group that this hits is fairly young. They’re the ones most affected by this. Baby boomers seem to do better with it, the younger, and they’re not great. They become so, the opposition is just so crazy. But where do you think this goes, man?

Farron Cousins: I don’t see it getting better. To be perfectly honest with you, I do not see any of this getting better anytime soon. I think we unfortunately continue down this path and it is disappointing. Because it’s funny, I’ll get emails from people and I had two back to back the other day. One of them said, why are you such a propagandist for president Biden? The second one asked me, why am I never saying anything nice about President Biden? And it’s just funny that those two completely conflicting thoughts, people watch my stuff, and they take away two, like, he’s a propagandist and he hates Biden. So, none of it makes any sense and these people don’t realize it doesn’t make sense.

Mike Papantonio: Well, Farron, what really grabs me is they get mad at you when you don’t attack me. They get mad at me when I don’t attack you. And they don’t understand we don’t do that. We try to raise the intelligence a little bit. And my notion, and you’ll see it more and more with our site, is we simply get rid of those people. If we have people coming into the site and they’re not rational enough to understand this conversation, for example, where they get mad. Oh, how dare you say that I’m on a baseball team. If they’re not rational enough to think about this. One thing I thought was interesting, can you talk a little bit about the math experiment that took place that told us something?

Farron Cousins: Oh, God.

Mike Papantonio: I thought this was interesting.

Farron Cousins: It’s so crazy. Let me see if I could kind of boil this down for everybody. They did a study and they gave a group of conservatives a math problem. They gave a group of liberals a math problem, and it was all based on real statistics. And it was about the banning of handguns. And so they had them work out these math problems and these were math prodigies, like math experts. And when the result of the math problem did not conform to their political ideology, so if a liberal did the math problem, and it said that banning guns led to more gun violence. Conservatives did the problem and it said that banning guns led to less gun violence. They would intentionally get the wrong answer, these math prodigies on their math problem when it didn’t conform to their political ideology, they would just change it that and say, nope, it says what I knew it would.

Mike Papantonio: Isn’t that scary?

Farron Cousins: It’s like, you’re putting your science, which math is a science, I guess. You’re putting it below your political ideology intentionally being wrong so that you don’t have to think, wait a minute, maybe my belief is wrong. It’s absolutely mind blowing.

Mike Papantonio: Well, the bigger picture here is that it’s not just one part of the country. It’s not just one party. Both parties. Basically, they break it down and they say, look, if you went to college and you’re religious, you have a religious upbringing, you’re gonna have these values. If you maybe don’t have as strong a religious upbringing and you actually had a higher education, you’re gonna have these kinds of, but they studied this. You don’t have people just saying, I think this is what’s happening. They’ve done study after study that is showing this. What I thought was really interesting though, when you tie ’em down and you say, well, how do you consider, what are you? You know what they always want to say, I’m a centrist. Far from, far from the truth. But they’re, so I guess the argument is they’re a little bit embarrassed to say that they’re so hung up on their political ideology that they internalize it to the point to where if they lose, their party loses, then they lose from a personal standpoint. I mean, it takes, it’s basically taken the whole process and made it fubar. It’s absolutely fubar.

Farron Cousins: It is. And another part of this too, along those same lines is when they ask people where they stand on the issues, well, guess what? On nearly every issue, majority of Americans agree on them. So we don’t actually disagree on the issues. It’s only when you tie it to a political party, like universal healthcare is widely supported across this country. When you say the Democrats want universal healthcare, even those Republicans who support it say, oh, no, no, no, I don’t want that now. So once you tie it to a political ideology, they don’t want it anymore. Same for left and right. It’s ridiculous.

Mike Papantonio: It’s such a simpleton view of the world isn’t it? It’s an absolute simpleton view of the world. And I don’t know whether it has to do with basic education or what it is. Maybe it has to do with news 24/7. I don’t know. But it’s killing democracy. And that’s what these folks said. They said it’s the most dangerous thing Democracy’s faced with right now.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.