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Thursday, September 21, 2006

[POLITICS] In Slate, Jacob Weisberg talks about how
A growing number of Republicans are desperately hoping that their party will ... get its head handed back on a plate.
The Democrats, strangely, want the same thing. But
As a matter of political logic, both sides cannot be right. Party politics being a zero-sum affair, game theory dictates that if Republicans are better off losing the next election, Democrats cannot be better off winning it.
But here's the thing. Politics is not a zero sum game, something that media people tend to forget when they cover government as if it were a horse race. It would be entirely possible for Republicans who feel their party has gone off the rails and no longer stands for its own political philosophy to believe a bit of defeat would do the party, and the country, good. At the same time, Democrats might believe (as parties generally do) that their philosophy would be better for the country. So they both might want the Democrats to win.

Before you flame me, I'm not blogging here about whether or not the Republicans have betrayed their own principles. I'm talking about how the entire article fails to mention once that people join political parties in order to do good. I remember thinking when Giuliani ran against Dinkins in New York that it would probably do New York, and the Democratic Party in New York, quite a bit of good to lose the mayor's race. The party had got corrupt from being in power too long. Giuliani would not have won in New York if quite a few Democrats hadn't agreed.

It does not help when the media treat all politics as a game. It's not a game. It's about people's lives. Is there no way to remind them of that?


I was skeptical of that Slate article after that "politics is a zero sum game" statement. The author states it as undisputed fact. I studied a tiny bit of political study in college so it's my impression that game theory is a large, complicated,uh, theory. Not easy to shoehorn politics into it.

I remember reading the Communist take on game theory where they tried to show that primitive villagers always acted in the collective interest, thus Communist ethos were at the base of human nature. Something like that. It didn't sound right then, so it makes me skeptical of the use of game theory now.

By Blogger Montyburnz, at 8:59 PM  

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