In my last post on More Motives on Untrue Things I promised to come back to the issue of power. I had said to a walking friend, who has been deep into the lairs of religious liberals lately, that I didn't think Power per se was the issue for many of the nice liberals that I knew, but more a sort of anxiety. This was heightened with Donald Trump, but I recall it being the case as far back a Nixon. You could just sense, both live and in writing, that they were just nervous about conservatives being in power, that "things" were going to happen. Sometimes they could identify actual issues or problems to to worry about, and I often agreed with them about half the time. Politics is always trade-offs and balances. Yet even beyond that, there was just a sense that the Wrong People were going to be in power, and there would be plagues o'er the earth.
My thinking about Tribes, which I wrote on so often from 2005-2015, stems from working in an all-liberal environment and being involved religiously with people whose politics varied widely. I had a lot of direct comparison, and was reading enough CS Lewis and others to see the historical perspective of where these ideas had come from. It was just nameless anxiety, which descends from the tribal perspective that if "our people" are not running things, there won't be enough food or status or other resources for us. While that is not 100% of the motive, it is absolutely there as a substrate, unacknowledged.
"So," said my friend "isn't that the same thing as wanting power?" Upon reflection, he is right. It might be framed and expressed gently, without the rhetoric of violence and extermination, because they are nice people who don't want to believe they are really thinking that way. There was great wringing of hands, clutching of pearls, and gnashing of teeth when George Bush first narrowly won and the other two branches were evenly divided because the Republicans "controlled" all three branches of government. A few years later, when the Senate was 60-40 Dem and Obama was in the White House there was still HW/PC/TGnashing about all the invisible power and dark money and evil Koch brothers that the Right had. That is getting into narcissistic, or maybe paranoid levels of how much power you feel you need in order to have your anxiety reduce.
It is fear rather than cruelty or our usual picture of need for domination that drives the need for power, but it is the same thing. I suppose fear drove previous tyrants, or at least their supporters, as well.