How important is in-group status?

I’ve written before about how people pick a team and then choose policy positions that they think their team would support and defend those positions as opposed to investigating the data, the literature and the law for evidence to support the validity of taking a position for or against something.

The US presidential primary season is a great example of team politics in action. But there are clear problems that arise from an individualist approach as opposed to a collective approach – all of the internal infighting and division makes it harder to “jump the message” from the primary campaign to the presidential campaign.

Jumping the message means ending the attack narratives or deep background investigations that can sometimes derail political campaigns once the nomination has been announced. Theoretically everyone should get in behind the leader of the team, but that’s not always going to happen. There is always the risk that someone acts in such a way that they’re not as concerned about in-group status as other members of the same team.

An example of how this could play out would be the reaction of talking heads sympathetic to the Obama supporting infrastructure of the Democratic party reacting to a Hillary Clinton nomination. Can we really expect a national offshoot of the Chicago political machine with exceptional voter targeting ability and social media savvy to roll over and play along?

I think that’ll be one of the more interesting things to watch over the next year or so. Will Joe Biden be thrown in at the last minute? Maybe the infrastructure that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is building at an astonishing cost will overcome all of this and this post will look really stupid.