Americans are being gamed. We are gaming one another. Hyper-partisanship will not stop, cannot be ended unless gaming ends.
MBA’s are trained to game. There are win-win games in which participants collaborate to expand payouts available to all players. American politics has become something quite different from a game of win-win, however. Our entrenched tribalism looks more like what MBA gamers call zero-sum. Think of board games; checkers or chess. For each winner of a political game, there must be a loser; some other player who in our toxic partisan environment is forced to shrivel in defeat.
It has not always been so. I remember Thanksgiving in France, a decade ago. Months earlier, I lost my wife to cancer and then became a Fulbright Fellow, taking up residence at a French university.
Autumn came, with the chill of Winter on its heels. The days in Paris grew colder, darker. That Thanksgiving I joined a group of French citizens who had been Fulbright exchange scholars in the United States; who remembered fondly their experiences around the holiday tables of American host families, even decades earlier.
We met on an elegant barge anchored on the River Seine, just off of Notre Dame’s corner. Night shadows and cathedral lights cast an eerie, spectacular view on the water, over what became our festive gathering.
I sat across from my host, a retired French executive whose career had been with an internationally prestigious American company. Decades earlier, he had been a child in this very neighborhood, he told me, during the reign of Adolph Hitler.
There never was enough to eat, he reflected as we munched, at least not until the end of World War II. Some years later he served as police commissioner in Paris, then as Fulbright-supported student, studying law in the United States.
My distinguished companion reminisced about differences he perceived between his fellow Frenchmen and women, and American business acquaintances. In France, he observed, one has political enemies. Not so in the United States, he said. In your country, you have opponents, not enemies. Americans collaborate and cooperate. Americans can agree to disagree.
Things are different now, of course. My French companion wouldn’t recognize what contemporary America has become. Now, Americans belong to political tribes. We are hardened by culture wars. Our country has become hyper-partisan.
Case in point. Mail bombs were intercepted a week before Halloween, sent to CNN and to the homes and offices of several liberals, labeled by Donald Trump as political enemies.
In the home stretch leading toward November midterm elections, Trump called out these and other opponents as evil. Trump argued at political rallies, these Americans are too dangerous to govern.
This is tribalism at its unfathomable worst. As the story of my French Thanksgiving host reminds, things in America have not always been so. This was not the America known to our parents; to our grand-parents.
Following initial discovery of the bombs, GOP leaders condemned the explosive packages. Within the same day, however, President Trump again turned dark. Steering around the CNN bombing hours earlier, he tweeted:
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” the President was quoted in the Washington Post. “It has gotten so bad and hateful,” Trump tweeted, “that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
America is being gamed. This is the look and feel of hardball political gaming.
American capitalism also is placed in peril by comparable words and actions. Indeed, America is being gamed in every major dimension; cultural, political, commercial, even religious.
Capitalism in Crisis dot Org is about public education around what it means to be gamed in contemporary America. We educate on pseudo-capitalism, on fraud, illegal or legal. We’re about the real economic swamp needing to be drained; the swamp of short-term thinking, corruption, wealth-hoarding, rigging and gaming schemes and the like.
Have you been gamed? Perhaps you have a story needing to be told. Stay tuned. You’ll get a chance to tell it, here.
Don’t miss The Gaming of America, Part II.