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?