The Backfire Effect

Regardless of which political party you subscribe to, we can all fall victim to the backfire effect. I have never seen this effect so strongly in poltics then in the current election cycle. The backfire effect is a form of confirmation bias. While normally a confirmation bias is a form of working backwards from a conclusion (selecting evidence that backs an existing belief), the backfire effect is the process in which we double down on our existing beliefs despite evidence that contradicts it. I’m an independent voter, I suspect that I’m not as subject to this because I do not have a dog in the race so to speak. Both candidates are deeply flawed! I don’t say that as an appeasement to being evenhanded.

Trump seems to be a certified USDA Grade A asshole. I don’t know him personally, but as an east-coast resident, I have been familiar with his antics for decades. He is an attention whore, plain and simple. What I find truly amazing is the apologetics from the Evangelicals that support him. He is the furthest thing from religious I can think of. When I was a believing Catholic, I thought of Trump as the antithesis of the Christian message, yet too many are holding Trump out to be some kind of savior figure. Despite the current debacles, gaffes and scandals, Evangelicals have a serious problem reconciling Trump into their overall world view. The backfire effect regarding the Access Hollywood video is extreme. For all of the decrying of the sanctity of marriage and the state of moral decay, Evangelicals in particular and Republicans generally seem to have thrown off any moral center they otherwise would claim in order for their horse in this race to win. For all talk of principles it is precisely that which Republicanism in the USA lacks.

Clinton, the reboot, is not a candidate I would want to be president. While she at least has the veneer of sanity, she is the definition of status quo. I do not think for one second that she is anti-TPP. She is much too hawkish for my political sensibilities. She is not as good a candidate that the American people should have. This election would have been much better with Kasich vs Sanders. At least these candidates have better overall character and policies and this election would be about issues instead of drama and the “backfire effect” would be less in play as we, the electorate, would have to analyze their positions and find holes in them. The election would be nice, boring and less emotionally charged.

Republicans for whatever reason believe “the end is nigh” if Clinton is elected, and Democrats fear that we are playing with fascism/authoritarianism with Trump. I would lean with the Democrats in this regard as Trump has in fact made many statements that echo dictators (putting political opponents in jail or assassinating them). Whether he would have that kind of power in actuality I don’t know, but doubt it. The Republican fear is unfounded, almost completely. By definition, a status quo candidate is the “safest” candidate as long as the status quo is. I guess it all depends on what Republicans define as “the end.” I think the calculus of voting for Hillary in order to deny Trump the presidency to be a dangerous way to make a decision. We should make sure that whatever party you identify with only puts forth worthwhile candidates. Trump and Hillary should have never made it this far. Trump is clearly only for his own interests and it isn’t Clinton’s “turn” to be president (which the media has parroted this entire election cycle). Both candidates have to earn our vote, not be the lesser of two evils. I want a Kennedy or a Roosevelt and ideally JFKennedy vs T.Roosevelt as I would have a tough decision to make instead of the shit-show this election has become.

It is so important to realize that we have biases. No one is completely unbiased. I’m sure I will be accused of being pro-Clinton or Pro-Trump which I’m neither. I realize this post leans favorably towards Clinton, but is it bias? Since my emotional response is tepid at best, I suspect not, but that isn’t a guarantee of objectivity, but maybe a  good indicator.  It is hard to understand reality as it is without having our emotions run so high as to blind us from facts. Facts are important! It grounds our expectations to what realistically we can expect from each candidate and hold them accountable. The moment we throw out facts, we will simply be a victim to cults of personality.

2 responses to “The Backfire Effect”

  1. Herb Schaffler says :

    As a libertarian, I voted for Rand Paul in the primary and voted absentee for Gary Johnson in the general election. I don’t like either Trump or Hillary, but if I lived in a battleground state, I would have voted for Trump. I have hated Hillary since 1994 when I first found out what a crook she is. I really dread seeing this crook return to the White House.

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