The book defines the myth of left and right as “the false belief that there is an essence behind the political spectrum.” Although Americans who are on one side or the other of the political divide tend to have similar ideologies, it is not because there is a single worldview or essence that defines which viewpoint is held on different issues.
The theory that says there is one defining essence for the left and another opposing one for the right is called the essentialist theory of ideology. The social theory of ideology, rather than attributing the correlation of political positions to a unifying essence, “says that issues correlate because they are all bound by a unifying tribe.”
When we don’t acknowledge our tribalism, but claim our positions on an issue are based on an underlying philosophy, it generates unnecessary prejudice and hostility. In the final chapter four specific steps are proposed to minimize the influence of the essentialist illusion. We can’t “completely eliminate irrational tribalism from public life, but it will move us in the right direction.”
Oxford University Press, 2022.