Feature

Self-segregation by political ideology

What America needs, said Gregory Rodriguez, is more apathetic, uncommitted voters. As recently as the 1980s, 25 percent of the electorate was made up of

Gregory RodriguezLos Angeles Times

What America needs, said Gregory Rodriguez, is more apathetic, uncommitted voters. As recently as the 1980s, 25 percent of the electorate was made up of “fence straddlers’’ who could be persuaded to vote either for Republicans or Democrats, depending on the candidate. Recent studies show the number of true independents shrinking to 10 percent, as most people fall prey to rabid partisanship. As author Bill Bishop documents in a new book, Americans are segregating themselves into philosophically “gated’’ communities, where like-minded people are “choosing to read and hear only things that bolster their worldview.’’ In selecting where to live, Americans are migrating to cities, counties, and neighborhoods based on the prevailing ideology, “so they can spend their daily lives around people who live and think just like they do.’’ As a result, many counties and communities have become disturbingly homogenous: The dominant party wins landslides in every election, and you can go days or weeks without meeting someone who doesn’t share all your assumptions and beliefs. This isn’t exactly the democratic ideal. “We have reorganized our country into a confederation of little reservations, and together we vote, arm in arm, with members of our little tribes.’’ 

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