Team Red and Team Blue dominate discourse in America: almost everyone picks a side. Some of us carefully select our Red media outlet, our Red neighborhood, and our favorite Red politicians. Others envelop their lives in Blue instead.
There’s nothing to criticize about the left and right allegiances when viewed strictly on their own terms. They’re structural tendencies deeply entrenched in human nature. Seeing the world through a liberal or conservative lens is as natural as viewing it from a male or female perspective.
But a few questions need to be asked ……
How did this loyalty to Team Red or Team Blue develop into such a problem for our culture? Why are we so divided? How did America’s colors become “bipolar”?
America’s credentialed class attempts to answer these questions with exclusively verbal analysis (while also clumsily skewing the narrative to support their favored team). But durable answers won’t appear through the application of wordsmithing alone. A full understanding requires a detailed spatial analysis.
For example, the left-right debate is constructed horizontally. Therefore, when a discussion of conscience, heart, and values is warranted, its language is accurate and sufficient. We find the right descriptions easily ……
But that isn’t the case when a perpendicular axis is added. When values language is put to questions of power, the terminology falls short. Conflation enters the collective discourse. Words that worked well on one axis make little sense when applied to the other axis ……
For instance, does it really matter if Stalin or Hitler leaned left or leaned right? Both men were authoritarian tyrants who killed millions. Each was ruthlessly skilled in the management of centralized power structures. And both resided at the top of the power axis. They inhabited locations that can’t be described with words like “left” or “right.”
To recognize the limitations of today’s dominant approach, it can be helpful to superimpose Teams Red and Blue on the political circle ……
This overlay exposes flaws in our two team paradigm: the colors extend upward and downward into conflicts that are pragmatic, practical, and power-focused. Their values terminology is ill-suited to discuss a fundamentally different class of problems.
Let’s instead imagine two other new shades. We’ll use them to split the power axis (in contrast to red and blue splitting the values axis). Any pair of hues will work for this new division: gold and grey are displayed below, since they’re devoid of partisan meaning at the moment. But other colors would suffice as well: white, silver, brown ……
In the above diagram, gold and grey represent an alternate and concurrent set of opposed teams. Each person in America chooses a side in this second fundamental conflict, just as they do in the left-right debate. But while we’re all intensely aware of the red-blue division, many of us are only vaguely conscious of this second pair of choices. And we rarely regard those who agree with us as teammates.
Is it fair to say that the language employed by Team Gold and Team Grey can’t draw adequate distinctions as a discussion moves toward the left and right poles? The answer is yes. In truth, the circle combines the four colors. Each creates terminology that’s most effective near a particular pole ……
So, every citizen is a member of two political teams at the same time. This requires an internal balancing process within each of us, but it’s a process that isn’t uncommon: we make similar adjustments between our personal and professional roles in life. Therefore, just as we prioritize between family and work, a weighing must also occur in our loyalties to the two political teams we belong to.
For example, former deep state operatives like John Brennan have signed on to Team Blue since 2016, as indicated by their appearances on left-leaning networks like CNN or MSNBC. But Brennan’s greater loyalty is to the grey team. He sits at the top of the circle.
Similarly, Glenn Greenwald also leans left, making him a member of Team Blue as well. But his views are almost diametrically opposed to Brennan’s. His fidelity is mostly to the gold team. Greenwald resides near the circle’s bottom.
Greenwald and Brennan are just two out of 330 million citizens. The rest of us also weigh the fundamental questions based on our particular preferences. Therefore, we all must ask: What are my pair of teams? Do I gravitate toward red and gold? Or am I some other combination? And which of my two teams is the higher priority?
When we attempt to answer such questions, it becomes clear that America isn’t bipolar after all. Instead, it’s bi-axial. We don’t just choose from two options along one line. There are four options along two lines.
Here’s a summary of what those four options look like ……
Lower Left Quadrant: Gold and Blue Teams. Liberal Citizen Empowerment (“Alt Left”)
Upper Left Quadrant: Grey and Blue Teams. Liberal Centralization (“Nanny State”)
Upper Right Quadrant: Grey and Red Teams. Conservative Centralization (“RINOs”)
Lower Right Quadrant: Gold and Red Teams. Conservative Citizen Empowerment (“Alt Right”)
This bi-axial assessment is more sophisticated than the simple red-blue model our pundits promote. It allows the political paradigm to be assessed with more accuracy. To adopt it, we only need to identify which pair of teams we’ve chosen. And then to understand which team loyalty is more important to us.
The left-right conflict will never go away, despite our wishes that it would. Likewise, the top-bottom conflict is a perpetual part of human civilization. It too will never leave us. Any wishes for a reduction of conflict are just that …… wishful thinking. The best we can do is to clarify our disputes. We do that by using better language, which is generated by a broader geometric form.
The red-blue fight doesn’t have to remain at the level of dysfunction we’re currently witnessing, though. It has become so intense only because we’ve addressed it in exclusion. To repair the problem, our values need to be analyzed alongside the power question.
More colors means more clarity.