Skip to main content

The word gerrymandering is stigmatized, as it should be. It only recently occurred to me that it also seems to be dismissed a great deal because of it being a "bipartisan trick". It's true, both sides have done it in the past and continue to do it today...but there's a catch. It appears to be working out a helluvalot better for Republicans.

I wasn't all that sure about the impact of gerrymandering on a national scale so I did a little research. According to Sam Wang at the New York Times:

"...Third, gerrymandering is a major form of disenfranchisement. In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats."
My opinion on the significance of this is below the fold :)

The difference between 16.7 and 16.4 million to me seems negligible-I would assume that the number of seats could easily go in either direction...and I would be about as wrong as humanly possible. 73 Republican seats vs 34 Democratic seats- wow!

Now let's put that into the big picture-where the title of this diary comes from. What is "The Backfire Effect"? In short: it is doubling down on preconceptions when a person is confronted with contradictory evidence. In other words- when we try to reason with Republicans by showing them reality- it strengthens their disbelief.

So this is what we are left with:

1. We continue to try to sway (R) voters into voting (D) for a change by presenting them with a well-thought-out argument. In my personal experience- this strategy has been successful right around 0% of the time. For every rational argument I am capable of presenting- there are three or four hyperbolic/anecdotal/flat-out false arguments they will counter with. I just can't keep up!

2. We want to inform the uninformed-to motivate the apathetic potential-voter. I really wish it was easy to see exactly how many people are being inspired to participate-but since I have become engaged in politics I have had very little luck inspiring the uninspired. There have even been people who complain to no end about not being paid enough-and to them I will respond, "you know there's a certain political party who thinks you deserve more". It is usually met with feigned interest or a blank stare.

3. Let's pretend that on a good day-we have successfully swayed or informed or inspired an additional 500,000 (R) voting, uninformed, or apathetic voters to vote (D). 16.4 million divided by 34 seats = ~482,000 votes per seat. Do we really think that we can sway or motivate enough people to make up for this gerrymandering-induced discrepancy? Is that even a rational expectation? I am more than willing to call the right wing crazy for thinking/saying some of the things they do-but maybe I'm a little crazy too for expecting the same strategy to have a different outcome. Maybe it's not a matter of convincing more people...or swaying the opinions of the already-convinced...

I have not been paying attention for more than six years- so I was hoping to get a little insight from the veterans in the community. Why is it that gerrymandering always seems to be put on a back-burner? I have heard it mentioned throughout my political awareness- but never with the kind of motivating force other issues seem to invoke. It seems to me that if we were to fix this lopsided issue-a lot of other things would have a much better chance of falling into place. What gives?

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site