SARGE: Zero-Sum, Or Some Zeroes, On Capitol Hill

A Zero-sum game is a situation where one player gains when his opponent suffers equal losses. The net change in total wealth among participants is zero; the wealth is just shifted from one to another. (

A zero sum game in politics is a game theory describing political games as well is a term used to describe faux negotiations. For instance, if a person enters into debate on a single issue one debater loses and one wins. The win (+1) added to the loss (-1) equals zero.

When political arguments and debates are frequent, a single match may be determined to be less important than analyzing of the overall relationship between the two political parties. Both parties may be losers if continually taking stances creating mutual bad feelings. The sum can quickly sink below zero if the two parties two are constantly at each other’s throats.

In political/diplomatic relations, there can be win-win, instead of win-lose, situations. People or countries may equally benefit from the specific adherence to diplomatic approaches and contact in the debate. Diplomacy comes down to compromise. Both parties involved sacrifice something to gain something. When the parties sacrifice political positions on specific equivalent actions/prospects, this is still a zero sum game has been played. Negotiation and diplomacy are often called “spreading the pain evenly.”

If you check out the logic of paragraph 3, you understand the position both the Democrats under Obama and the Republicans have boxed themselves into.

Political ideology is, on the surface, an important thing because it produces an open framework to construct the parties’ debating points. The struts and beams must be solid in nature so they support the specific thoughts and actions of the party. In viewing it we should be able to see directly through it to better recognize the strengths of the structure. The winds of change carry little impact because there’s sufficient air (truth) passage around the beams.

It’s when the framework is covered with solidifying individual concepts and ideals the air becomes more powerful. Instead of passing through, the wind (debate) becomes a power obstruction. Rhetoric deviates attention from the issues. The wind hits the obstacle and must wane or find a way to dissipate through deflection. The wind hits, spreads its force over the area and then dissipates. But damage is done by this wind hitting relentlessly and not being allowed to pass through. Rigidity becomes the barrier. Instead of deliberately debating points based on logic and in a spirit of bi-partisan endeavor, something cruelly self-centered develops.

Rigidity and stubborn intransigence is recognized as counter-productive. Instead of seeing the possibility of a win/win an apparent lose/lose ending without resolution. The goal is to garner points by more heavily damaging, for the moment, the opposition in the debate. The final overall tally decides the winner and like timing the individual performances of drivers in a NASCAR race the difference between #1 and #2 may be separated by thousandths of a second.

Meanwhile, the debaters and word wranglers’ reputation is sullied. The individual debaters’ societal standing may diminish in the eyes of the electorate, but in the confines of his cloistered colleagues, the individual’s stock in trade may soar. This is where the cruelly self-centered nature of the party system develops.

Winning and losing becomes a matter of perspective as well as perception at this point. How you look at the end goals is how you decide whether the end justifies the means or vice versa. Everybody gets a pat on the back. The participants call each hale and hearty fellows then go to lunch together. The American public wonders where it all went so wrong.

Zero sum games are being played between Obama and John Boehner. Each calls the other person a liar. It’s a moot point designed to misdirect close scrutiny of the issues and just who said what, what they said and how they meant what they said. In politics it couldn’t be described as anything other than liar’s paradise.

And as both sides hurl words, recriminations and insults toward the other, the American people comprehend there are some real zeroes in the Capitol

Thanks for listening.



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