What Kind of Game are We Playing?
No, I’m not going to talk about fiddling, tiddlywinks, or playing some other triviality while Rome burns. Rather, it’s time to have a very serious talk about what the Republican Party is. Or is not. And for that, I turn to Simon Sinek’s brilliant discussion of game theory and war. As the BLM riots and January 6 legal travesty have shown us, we are in a civil war. And there has been some shooting. Think about the murder of David Dorn in St. Louis and the Kyle Rittenhouse case in Kenosha. It may not take much for the smell of cordite to fill the air.
Americans are fed up with feckless Republicans who claim that they are “fighting for them,” while vigorously negotiating how much freedom they will surrender in exchange for better committee positions or sotto voce promises of personal wealth after a few years of obeisance to “the Thing” from the Black Lagoon. That’s why so many voted for Donald Trump and are utterly repulsed by the radical socialists wearing the “D” label.
Ordinary Americans see this evil. They elected Republicans in Virginia. And they’re dumbfounded by Democrats who believe that patriotic Americans are “racists” who simply didn’t understand how wonderful their Marxist plans were. Pornographic school library books, Critical Race Theory, and teen boys exploiting “transgenderism” for sexual purposes are only part of the problem. Sticker shock at the gas pump and grocery store are filling this bomb with explosives waiting for a spark. Yet the Republican National Committee sits clueless. The Lincoln Project somehow thinks of itself as both “Republican” and virtuous.
Americans recognize one central value. “Leave me alone! I want to make a better life by my own effort, and woe unto any RepubloCrat who tries to steal it from me.” This key value is called the American Dream, and it’s being stolen by the Swamp. The Swamp is about accumulating power, and that creates wealth. And this brings us back to Simon Sinek.
Simon’s Ted Talk was about war. Make no mistake about it, we are in a war (although, thankfully, still a relatively bloodless one), and we can lose it. To win it, we need to understand how war should be fought—and not fought.
The first thing to understand is that this is not a finite game like golf, bridge, or anything else with fixed rules and defined players. Those are stable systems where a particular move is likely to have a predictable set of possible outcomes. An election is a finite game. It ends with counted votes. But if you then change the result by adding “imaginary” votes, you’ve changed it into an infinite game.
Infinite games have changing rules and changing players. If both sides play an infinite game, that system is also stable. Each recognizes that there is no end, just as the circle of life does not end. Evil persists, multiplies, and metastasizes. Rinse, repeat. Can good prevail, even for a moment?
Image: Chess game. Piqsels.
As long as Republicans play as if politics is a finite game, their ultimate loss is guaranteed. If all you do is try to engineer winning a Congressional seat, then ultimate values are ignored in the interest of immediate interests.
Yes, we want to keep Democrats out of a voting majority, but why? Is there some ultimate value that the Democrats are seeking to damage or destroy? Elected Republicans usually fail to ask that question. We celebrate that Devin Nunes identified Democrat malfeasance in the Russia Collusion Hoax. But if the miscreants aren’t punished, showing that there are real consequences, what value is upheld?
Perhaps a more consequential example is the “Living Constitution.” Democrats insist that the Constitution is outdated, requiring that we change the meaning of its words to keep it N’Sync with the times. This sounds like a good thing until we realize that this is actually the epitome of an infinite game.
In this case, Democrats wish to change the rules to suit their purposes, just as they wish to change voting rules to perpetuate Democrat control with HR1. Yet Republicans simply stand in opposition to individual actions that are contrary to Republican interests, without articulating a single overarching value that those interests serve. And that may be why my wife says that there doesn’t seem to be much point in electing Republicans, since they don’t do anything once they take office.
Until Republicans recognize that Democrats are playing the infinite game, the American experiment will remain unstable, always sliding toward more centralization of government power. All the guardrails will be removed because, in essence, the Democrats will be unopposed. But there is another way, and MAGA America understands it.
As Simon Sinek notes, all these little battles over “interests” only serve to confuse. They don’t build support. But Donald Trump intuited that the Democrats were destroying America. He sought to serve the American Dream. His deregulation push was a clear move that Americans appreciated. Who needs a bureaucrat’s approval to live the American Dream? His judicial appointments may be less well understood, but they have radically changed the battlefield by opposing rubberstamp Democrat judges. He worked to require that the rules be fixed, not flexible, moving more toward a finite game.
If Republicans are unwilling to strongly voice foundational principles and values that underlie every interest they work to protect, the Republican Party will die. As it dies, it will suck the life out of every effort to oppose the Evil Empire occupying D.C. There simply will not be enough time to build a third party to carry the torch. The spark of American liberty will go out.
We must have a Republican Party that stands for something of foundational importance: Liberty. That means smaller government with fewer departments. It means lower taxes. It means true Federalism, with a clear understanding of enumerated powers and the Tenth Amendment. It means that the law means what it meant when it was enacted. If it needs to be changed, then there are procedures to change it. Until then, the law is the law.
If we can’t do this, then will the last free person to leave the US please turn out the lights?
Ted Noel MD is a retired Anesthesiologist/Intensivist who posts on social media as DoctorTed and @vidzette.
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