THE BACKFIRE EFFECT
Democracts insist on protecting their beliefs
Why do “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing? And why did Japanese Kamikaze pilots wear crash helmets? And why do we always press harder on the television remote when it needs new batteries? These are questions that many feel the mind is simply incapable of answering. Of course, we could go on and on with similar conundrums, especially after watching the national Democrat convention in Philadelphia last month.
For starters, how can 68 percent of Americans believe Hillary Clinton is not honest and trustworthy – an all-time worst in her political career – yet the Democratic Party nominate her as their candidate for president of the United States? I mean, these negatives are higher than nearly any candidate in recent memory.
And that’s not to mention that two out of three Americans view her unfavorably, according to a CBS poll, and only about one out of three would feel “proud” to have her as President, according to a CNN poll.
It just doesn’t make sense that almost onehalf of Democratic primary voters still wish Bernie Sanders was the party’s nominee, and yet Hillary Clinton still turned around and thumped Bernie’s supporters on the head – by hiring the very person, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who rigged Democratic Party support to ensure that Bernie would never have been the nominee in the first place.
None of it makes any sense, except to Democrats, who are still planning to vote for Hillary because, well, that’s just what’s right and decent to them.
But given all of the polling data regarding voter sentiment, from the Benghazi murders to the FBI investigation of her handling of classified information – not to mention a rigged party nomination process – what is going through the minds of those who are nevertheless still chanting, “I’m with Hillary”?
If this describes you, or someone you know, psychologists call this condition the “backfire effect.” This is when, after you have added an idea to your collection of core beliefs, you protect that idea from harm. Even in the face of inconsistent ideas or other information, you stick to your beliefs, instead of questioning them, nevertheless. This “backfire effect” has long-range, deleterious effects on one’s ability to understand the issues, and one’s willingness to analyze other points of view. This is mainly because we all tend to seek out information which confirms our current beliefs anyway.
There are plenty of examples of this, but consider the commonly held belief that Republicans are the party of racism, while the Democrats are not. The facts don’t support this belief, but the “backfire effect” is clearly evident because the facts are tossed aside by all those wanting to protect the “idea” that Republicans are racist.
For example, did you know it was the Democratic Party’s tireless efforts to preserve and defend slavery that caused the Republican Party to be founded in the first place? Yes, Virginia, the Republican Party was formed as an opposition party to slavery.
In fact, by 1861, the Republicans had elected their first president, Abraham Lincoln, and following the Civil War that ensued over this issue, slavery was ended. Racist groups, such as the KKK were, in fact, supported by the Democratic Party, and later defended by numerous government officials, including President Woodrow Wilson.
Not sure about all that? Well, consider that the 14th Amendment, giving full citizenship to freed slaves, passed in 1868 with 0 percent Democratic support in Congress. That’s 0 percent. Not one Democrat supported the amendment. The 15th Amendment, giving freed slaves the right to vote, passed in 1870 with 0 percent Democratic support in Congress. Again, that is 0 percent Democratic support.
And for those who say, “Yeah, well, that’s all in the past and a long time ago,” well, let’s talk about the Democratic Party of today, then.
Since 2008, black poverty is up, and black employment is down, even as Democrats controlled both the White House and the Congress. Forty percent of black males are incarcerated, and 72 percent of black children are still being born to unmarried mothers. There are fewer blacks participating in the labor force, and the unemployment rate among blacks is more than double than it is among whites. And this is all happening under a federal government filled with Democrats. The same Democratic Party that has spent more than 50 years and billions of dollars on social welfare programs of every kind, only to have the poverty rate even higher today than it was back then.
And I won’t even get into how white voters in 2008 looked right past the color of skin, and then elected a black man to its highest office in the land.
So, go ahead, dig in your heels, if you must, and dismiss the facts that show how the Democratic Party has paddled up this same river of division so many – and far too many–times. The problem is they not only understand the “backfire effect,” but they are counting on it to keep your vote. The question is, do they have a “fat chance” or “slim chance” of doing it?
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.