I'm tribal. No, I'm not a Native American.
But I belong to a variety of other sorts of tribes that define my identity. Democrat, atheist, environmentalist, blogger, citizen activist, Subaru owner, Apple aficionado, author. To name a few.
It's easy for me to see when other people allow their tribal'ness to lead them into liking actions that, if an opposing tribe had done the same thing, would have been met with outrage.
Yet when it comes to my own tribal leanings, it's more difficult for me to recognize when this happens.
For example, on Sunday night Democrats walked out of the Texas House of Representatives to deny Republicans the quorum needed to pass legislation restricting voting rights.
Democrats pulled off a dramatic, last-ditch walkout in the Texas House of Representatives on Sunday night to block one of the most restrictive voting laws in the United States from passing before a midnight deadline.
The sudden revolt torpedoed the sweeping measure known as Senate Bill 7, which would have reduced polling hours, empowered poll watchers and scaled back ways to vote in Texas, which already has some of the nation's strictest voting laws.
The move worked, because the legislative session was scheduled to expire at midnight.
I was happy at what Texas Democrats did. Yay!
Even if the horrible legislation is brought up again in a special session, at least walking out cast a national spotlight at what those nasty Republicans in Texas are up to, perhaps spurring Democrats in Congress to pass much-needed voting rights bills.
Today, though, while watching MSNBC's Chris Hayes talk about what happened in the Texas legislature, it belatedly dawned on me that when Oregon Republicans walked out of our state legislature to prevent a climate change bill from becoming law, I was outraged.
So am I for or against walkouts in state legislatures to prevent a bill from passing?
Well, based on my emotional reaction to the Texas and Oregon walkouts, it depends on who is doing the walking-out. If it's Republicans, I hate it. If it's Democrats, I love it.
But here's the thing.
In 2019 I said Oregon democracy was threatened by a Republican walkout. In that blog post I argued that democracy respects majority rule. If voters don't give you a majority, it isn't fair for a minority to use a walkout to get their way.
Yet in 2021 I applauded a walkout by Texas Democrats, even though they are a minority in that state's legislature.
Sure, Emerson said "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Yet inconsistency also can be foolish. I can justify my Texas-Oregon inconsistency by the purpose of the walkouts, one noble (Texas), one horrible (Oregon).
Problem is, Oregon Republicans believed they were engaging in a noble cause when they prevented a cap-and-trade bill from passing via their walkout, because they considered that the bill would harm already struggling rural economies. So nobility is in the eye of the beholder, even though some eyes do see more clearly than others.
I don't think we can do away with our tribal tendencies. Given the way the human brain works, it simply isn't possible to be a purely logical being unswayed by emotions and personal beliefs.
However, we can be aware when we're acting in a tribal fashion. And that produces a willingness to not be quite as harsh toward members of an opposing tribe when they act in a way that I'd applaud if my tribe did the same thing.
To offer another example, a few days ago Black Lives Matter protesters had a rally in Salem to mark the anniversary of George Floyd's murder by a police officer. After some speeches, attendees marched through downtown streets without a permit.
I thought that was great.
But when right-wing groups have done this to protest Governor Brown's Covid policies, with members of the Proud Boys militia group taking part, I was critical of the Salem police department allowing them to march in the streets without a permit.
Can't justify this inconsistency. It's just how my mind works. Which is how most minds work. (Maybe all minds.)