America’s “Exhausted Majority”…

Can they muscle up to pull us together?

A lot of punditry these days about American Tribalism … categorizing people by common interests …  usually with a demographic slant (i.e. race. gender, and location – urban, rural; coastal or Heartland).

Those “tribes” are usually characterized as warring factions with little in common.

The result: sharp differences and apparently intractable political polarization.


An organization called More in Common did some research that takes a different cut at the situation.

Their study – America’s Hidden Tribes – identified seven distinct groups of Americans. These are our Hidden Tribes of America: distinguished not by who they are or what they look like, but what they believe. (Below – at end of this post – are descriptions of the groups)


The study reached three fundamental conclusions…


First, most Americans are tired of this “us-versus-them” mindset and are eager to find common ground.

While they may hold dissimilar views on many issues, more than three in four Americans believe that the differences aren’t so great that they can’t work together.



Second, those who believe that there is common ground, cluster into an “Exhausted Majority” that is tired of the political polarization and animus.

But, the Exhausted Majority is being overwhelmed by the vocal and increasingly militant extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.


Third, the Exhausted Majority will need to catch a second wind and rise up to pull America back to a middle ground centered on our common values, not our emotionally charged differences.


My view: I think the diagnosis and resulting categorization scheme and  is both insightful and optimistic.

But, those who advocate for common values are swimming against some brutal political currents … and, politicians who stake out the middle ground get eaten alive by the extremist “wings”.

Maybe, some day the common values will rise form the ashes  … but today probably isn’t that day.


More in Common: America’s Hidden Tribes

Progressive Activists (8 percent of the population) are deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America’s direction today. They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media.

Traditional Liberals (11 percent of the population) tend to be cautious, rational, and idealistic. They value tolerance and compromise. They place great faith in institutions.

Passive Liberals (15 percent of the population) tend to feel isolated from their communities. They are insecure in their beliefs and try to avoid political conversations. They have a fatalistic view of politics and feel that the circumstances of their lives are beyond their control.

The Politically Disengaged (26 percent of the population) are untrusting, suspicious about external threats, conspiratorially minded, and pessimistic about progress. They tend to be patriotic yet detached from politics.

Moderates (15 percent of the population) are engaged in their communities, well informed, and civic-minded. Their faith is often an important part of their lives. They shy away from extremism of any sort.

Traditional Conservatives (19 percent of the population) tend to be religious, patriotic, and highly moralistic. They believe deeply in personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Devoted Conservatives (6 percent of the population) are deeply engaged with politics and hold strident, uncompromising views. They feel that America is embattled, and they perceive themselves as the last defenders of traditional values that are under threat.


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