There's something about a rousing two-player rivalry that seems to satisfy the caveman part of our brains. And if it is a fight-to-the-death, all the better, I guess.
A year's worth of sweat and effort by dozens of teams boils down to one "big game" between two teams... whose fans would happy gauge each other's eyes out. The world comes together for the Olympic Games, and sure release the doves, but's there's always at least one riveting dogfight for gold and silver. The bronze winner is giddy just to be on the podium, but the real "fight" was between #1 and #2, right?
And what about politics? You can't turn on a radio or TV station without hearng either side demonize the other with vague descriptions of what "THEY" want to do to you. And we eat it up, we feel like we're on the "right side" and we cheer on "our guy" with the same possessed zeal as the fans at the Super Bowl.
Face it: humans like having two, clear, isolated choices.
We like reducing the irreducible to a coin-flip decision.
But I think we need to learn to be comfortable with more complicated choices. I think we should consider them individually - a buffet of choices not a fixed menu. You might "be conservative" on one issue and "be liberal" on another. But you don't have to BE either one as a person. And, here's a thought, maybe make your decision not based on the party listed on your voter registration card but based on contemplation, research, and discussion.
Do we let this penchant for two-option thinking creep into the workplace? Too often, yes. You're either with the boss or you're against him. We watch (or participate) as factions grow and plots are laid in cubicle-land over an upcoming decision about the new company insurance plan. Splenda or Sweet-n-Low: you have to pick. Do we like the new guy: quick, yes or no?
Office politics is the art of manipulating people and situations to your benefit - and there is a continuum of benign to malignant practitioners out there. The harder someone is pushing you to take an either-or position on option 1 or 2, the more you should consider his or her agenda, and the more you should search for option 3, 4, or 5.
Fight your caveman brain.
Don't look to be on the "right team'; look to make the right choice.