A Political Thought Experiment

The current situation in politics dictates a very simple motivation in game theory for the Republicans:

Support Obama AND Country succeeds = bad
Support Obama AND Country fails = bad
Renounce Obama AND Country succeeds = bad
Renounce Obama AND Country fails = good

Their only reasonable strategy in the frame of game theory is to renounce Obama and hope the country fails. This is obviously a bad incentive for the country.

Even if Republicans agreed with an Obama initiative, there would be this factor of simple game theory tugging in the opposite direction.

A way I imagined to mitigate this problem is to have the opposite party take the vice presidency, but allow the president to choose from the top candidates from the other party. I make this modification because I imagine an Obama/Mccain ticket would be a disaster, but some other combos might not be as bad (eg Obama/Romney).

Ceteris paribus this would take away some of the ‘cult-think’ that seems to create an ‘us vs. them’ deadlock on open, rational debate. This is fueled by the entertainment-centered news industry. War and fear seem to be the only way to get things passed nowadays. If ‘your guy’ is right in the mix of things it provides a bit of an anchor for you.

I know Hannity/Colmes is not what we want, but that was a bit of a straw man scenario.


and the same party would be next in line for president to dissuade assassination

Why can’t the renounce Obama and expect that the country will fail because of failed policies even they hope (against hope) that it succeeds?

Why can’t the hope that the country succeeds, but hope (and make a case to the American people) that the country could succeed even more with them in power?

There does not seem to be much point in considering your solution since it proceeds from a model that is poorly specified. Even assuming for a moment that your payoffs make sense, you don’t even capture the full range of actions in your strategy space. Abstention/failure to vote needs to be explained as well.

Success and failure are also insufficiently granular. Flagrant failure would probably mean that legislators would lose the resources to maintain their winning coalitions. This is undesirable for both individual Republicans and for the party for reasons that hopefully require no explanation. Intuitively the Republicans simply need to guarantee enough national success to pay off their coalitions while signaling in costly way their lack of support for Obama. But Obama (and anyone else) can solve their optimization problem, too, and can attempt to conceal the legislation that might plausibly lead to national success in a sea of crap. Then Republicans need to be very sure that the legislation that they are renouncing won’t somehow undermine their own futures.

This model also does not admit for any bargaining at the margin or logrolling, the presence of both of which need to be explained.

To say that the above model does not even give us a heuristic understanding of the drivers of Republican strategy would be charitable.

That some Republican leaders have operated this way for several years was, I thought, common knowledge.

(Limbaugh is on record as “hoping Obama fails” but this doesn’t really count: Limbaugh’s goal is clearly neither Republican success nor American success, but white anger.)

A closely related example of Republican strategy was evident immediately after GWB’s election. Since lack of consumer and investor confidence exacerbates recession, a President’s duty is to speak optimistically of the economy, whether he believes himself or not. Yet GWB devoted much effort in early 2001 to talking the economy down. It was important for him to escalate the recession quickly so that it could be seen as Clinton’s fault, not Bush’s.

Limbaugh’s goal is money (which allows him to buy the kind of blow he likes)-anyone who thinks there’s anything else there if being selectively naive.

The model is oversimplify and proves far too much. It would apply to any opposition party, say the Dems under Bush or the 'Pubs under Clinton? (And the first person to say “Yeah but MY TRIBE is made of better people!” gets one free scoff.)

Fact is, the reason we have different parties is because people disagree on stuff. Nothing strategic about it, you just wouldn’t be a Republican if you agreed with most of Obama’s nonaxiomatic beliefs.


I am a Jets fan so unfortunately I cannot reply at this time. Thank u for the response though:)

They are going to need a lot of game theory to win tonight, I think.

Isn’t this the conundrum of tribal politics?
Support the opposition party AND Country succeeds = bad
Support the opposition party AND Country fails = bad
Renounce the opposition party AND Country succeeds = bad
Renounce the opposition party AND Country fails = good

“white anger” yields listeners; listeners yield money.

I didn’t know I had to connect all the dots…