Our Tribe = Shared Values

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

For years we kept our political views private. Many people do...and for good reason. Sharing on sensitive topics can damage relationships and reputations. What is worse is that when people share views publicly they tend to become attached to them, especially if forced to defend themselves. But the more we shared our thoughts on politics with close friends and family the more we realized we were not alone.

This post is about the common values we seem to share with the vast majority of Americans. We don't belong to a political party. Something about joining a political "tribe" seems to lead to "group think" and a desire to help one's team win rather than seek common sense solutions.

Here we offer an alternative...a tribe based around shared values.

Why people join tribes

We all like belonging to a “tribe”. Affiliating with a political party is an easy way to create a sense of belonging. This desire is build into our DNA. Humans are not special in this way. Many social mammals feel pressured to seek social acceptance. We also like being told we are right, and tend to despise those that make us feel we are wrong or backward.

But what is the cost of political tribalism?

Many tribes have little consequence on important things like the health and security of our families. Sports provide a perfect example. Joseph spent much of his childhood near Chicago ... home of “Da Bears” 🐻. Why do they like Da Bears? Because they grew up near Chicago. That’s all fine and good when it comes to football 🏈 but it’s not a good way to run the country.

None of us have a material impact on the future of this country. There are 340,000,000 people in this country. So why do we vote?

Because our team matters. If your parents, your friends, and your family are predominately a Democrat or Republican, then how you feel and how you vote is a BIG deal. If you make the “wrong” decision....you could ruin close relationships!

Why should anyone bother to listen to the other side when their relationships with family and friends are on one side of the balance, and their insignificant impact on elections are on the other?

Easy...because if we fail to listen to those we disagree with our Democracy will eventually fail.

Party platforms seem designed to fail. The failure starts with a list policies they support. This creates “Confirmation Bias” because publicly stating a position reinforces that position as part of ones identity, and no one likes publicly changing their minds. Party affiliation does the same thing.

We need an alternative approach to political tribalism.

Our shared values

Our shared values provide a fresh new approach to a political party philosophy. Our hope is that we can work with you to improve these values so that all American's can feel comfortable joining. This is our tribe. Consider this an alternative to the tribes of constant name calling and demonizing of opposing views.

Our proposed alternative approach is inspired by the book Crucial Conversations which states that we are most likely to reach constructive solutions when we start by emphasizing shared values.

So what are our shared values?

1. Opportunity to succeed

We all deserve a shot at success, but equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcome. We should celebrates success and work hard to make sure all our boys and girls of every race and culture have the opportunity to make their dreams come true.

No one achieves success on their own; which is why those of us that can afford to should give more and ensure that the opportunity for success is available to future generations.

Americans can rally around this, but both parties fall short.

Republicans who say the poor just need to work harder are blind and cruel. Over 1 in 5 children live in poverty. Many talented students cannot afford the education they need to reach their true potential. Parents making minimum wage often need to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive… leaving no time to help their children find their way to a better life. We should all be outraged at the injustice of subsidizing sugar and endless wars while our schools and bridges crumble.

Democrats who think the answer is big government and handouts fail to appreciate the free market and the cost of higher taxes on our economy. What is needed to ensure that all people have the opportunity to succeed? Far too often, Democrats prescribe solutions that go well beyond what is needed to ensure everyone an opportunity to succeed…removing incentives to earn our way at the expense of others.

2. Charitable Interpretation

One definition of love is that we choose the best possible interpretation of the others words and actions. The book, “How to win friends and influence people” supports this value as a necessary first step to building relationships.

A related concept is Hanlon's razor, an aphorism that means, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Earlier this week we were discussing racism with some friends...one of whom brought up Howard Schultz and how he had said, "I don't see color" in the context of discussing racism. Some might feel that his comment was stupid, but does that make Howard a racist? Obviously not, but that didn't stop many liberal commentators from implying as much.

The default mode for party members and affiliates seems to be the opposite of this: Twist words to make whatever your “opponent” says sound as bad as possible. Make memes and write angry posts that demonize the other "team". This kind of "gotcha" behavior does not help Americans improve their understanding of the issues and reach commonsense solutions. Not in our party.

Americans need to also rally around basic decency, mutual respect, and a willingness to acknowledge differences of opinion can exist without demonizing our neighbors.

3. Progressive and Conservative

“A Progressive” should refer to anyone who believes that we still have much work to do to ensure that all people have the opportunity to succeed. Mahatma Ghandi said that, “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”. Republicans that believe we are the greatest nation in the world need to wake up, and take a look around. We have much to learn from the rest of the world when it comes to taking care of the “weakest members” and preparing our children for the future. The term “progressive” means that we have a mutual goal of giving all people the opportunity to succeed.

“A Conservative” should refer to anyone who seeks to “avoid waste” and is “marked by moderation or caution”. Elaborate government programs and handouts should be the last option considered after all free market options have been shown to fail. There are many areas where this is the case...especially defense, education, finance, and environmental protections. We need to be creative and scientific in how we use government to address problems not solved by free markets.

4. Freedom and Liberty

We need to embrace a moral code of live and let live. If you enjoy smoking marijuana, hunting, or some other activity that is not hurting other people...you should be free ti do so. Republicans need to stop filling our jails with victimless criminals. Democrats need to acknowledge and protect the 2nd Amendment. Everyone also deserves the right to privacy. Both parties have failed to make this a priority. We need better protections from the state and foreign actors.

5. Growth mindset

Our country will not remain a superpower for long if we, the electorate, continue to isolate ourselves from ideas different from our own.

Do you tend to agree with you parents and friends on political issues? If you answered yes, you have an exciting journey ahead of you.

We need a party that embraces challenging deeply held beliefs. We need to embrace a growth mindset...one that pushes us to think outside the boxes of political party and find creative solutions to our shared challenges.

One big breakthrough in the McPhail household has been a real focus on what we call finding the "East West Equilibrium" (EWE). Basically, it means taking the time and energy to try to work on important issues together until we find solutions that take the best from both our cultures and experiences. EWE is a recipe for finding new possibilities that are outside the cliches and platitudes of political talking points we should all be tired of hearing.


In conclusion, the existing party platforms seem almost designed to fail ... reinforcing "tribalism" and "confirmation bias" instead of common sense solutions. We are tired of seeing posts and memes that demonize our fellow Americans. We think a lot of other Americans feel the same way.

Our tribe of shared values starts with a focus on principles on which we can all agree.

  1. Opportunity to succeed

  2. Charitable Interpretation

  3. Progressive and Conservative

  4. Freedom and Liberty

  5. Growth mindset

We all want to be part of a tribe. Feel free to join ours and together we can build upon Shared Values that our kids can be proud of and help brings Americans together.


Members listed alphabetically...all membership is equal:

  1. Joseph McPhail

  2. Lihong McPhail

  3. Sumay McPhail