Nash Equilibrium in American politics

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Ginger
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:42 pm UTC

I think and believe political discourse keep getting sideline and derail to the fringes is because... we live in an increasingly spying, paranoid, militarize modern society. Yes, we have conveniences. We also have foreign wars. We also have countries being bullies to other countries and our own country facing problems. SO: My answer is that peoples are resorting to mud sling, double talk and tribalism because it makes them feel safer in times of unrest. Look around us: Negative news stories: Sex abuses, children and pets abuses, police abuses... and on and on. It's impossible to escape and more and more peoples resort to: Aggression and non-usage of tact and etiquette when they feel so much pressures from outsides forces.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Thesh » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:48 pm UTC

guenther wrote:My question for the thread is why are the sides doing this? Why are the parties shifting to the political edges and leaving little room for discourse, let alone compromise?


It didn't start with the parties, it started with wealthy people buying media and politicians for their own self-interest. We are in a situation in which you cannot help most Americans economically without harming the wealthiest Americans. Now, there are two main problems - one is that even if you poll on issues like minimum wage, most Republicans tend to favor a higher minimum wage, just not as large as Democrats. The second is that we do have a two-party system. In order for Republicans to win when they can't win on economic issues they needed to focus on social issues, but as the country became more and more liberal on social issues Republicans had a hard time winning on any policy basis.

The solution for Republicans was then to divide the country by demonizing the left - they are socialists, they hate freedom, they are bringing in immigrants to steal our jobs and vote for Democrats, etc. The Republican party has pretty much been forced to define itself as being in opposition to Democrats, but because Democrats are pragmatic and concerned about evidence, this means Republicans must be ideological and reject evidence (the media is biased, universities are breeding grounds for leftists, etc.). Because Republicans are not acting in good faith, I don't think there is any reasonable way for Democrats to compromise without coming out as the losers, and in our sensationalist media environment that has even worse consequences for the party in the long run.

EDIT: Also, once one party changes the rules, the other party has to respond to keep power:

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/22/57967052 ... r-problems

ZIBLATT: Yeah, so this is exactly a part of the same process that Steve just described. So there's this kind of spiral, you know, which is really ominous, where one side plays hardball by holding up nominations, holding up legislation in Congress, and there's a kind of stalemate. And so the other side feels justified in using executive orders and presidential memos and so on. These also are - you know, have been utilized by Barack Obama. So there's a way in which politicians, on both sides, are confronted with a real dilemma, which is, you know, if one side seems to be breaking the rules, and so why shouldn't we? If we don't, we're kind of being the sucker here.

DAVIES: You know, you do seem to say that the Republican Party led the way and was more willing to violate these norms of democracy. Is that the case? And is there something about the Republican Party that makes it different in this respect?

LEVISKY: Yeah, we do think that's true. We think that the most egregious sort of pushing of the envelope began with Republicans, particularly in the 1990s and that the most egregious acts of hardball have taken place at the hands of Republicans. I'll just list four - the partisan impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 2003 mid-district redistricting in Texas, which was pushed by Tom DeLay, the denial - essentially, the theft of a Supreme Court seat with the refusal to even take up the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 and the so-called legislative coup pulled off by the Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina in 2016. Those are among the most egregious acts of constitutional hardball that we see in the last generation, and they're all carried out by Republicans.

Yes, we believe the Republicans have become a more extremist party. For us, the most persuasive explanation has to do with the way our parties have been polarized along racial and cultural lines. And the way that our parties have lined up, with the Democrats being a party, essentially, of secular, educated whites and a diversity of ethnic minorities and the Republicans being a fairly homogeneous white, Protestant party, or white Christian party, the Republicans have basically come to represent a former ethnic majority in decline. You have many - certainly not all - but many Republican voters who feel like the country that they grew up with, or grew up in, is being taken away from them. And that can lead to pretty extremist views and voting patterns.


EDIT 2:

I should also mention that the primary system plays a huge role in taking sides to the extreme - before you can face your opponent, you must be the winner within your party and the more safe the district is for one party the less concern the voters have for nominating a compromise candidates. The less competitive the district, the more extreme the representative.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:19 pm UTC

guenther wrote:My question for the thread is why are the sides doing this? Why are the parties shifting to the political edges and leaving little room for discourse, let alone compromise? My proposed answer is the Nash Equilibrium. But more importantly I just want people to think past blaming each other or blaming tribalism. If both sides are adopting this strategy, it makes sense to me that there must be some lure within the system of the game.



The absolutely simple answer is that both sides are playing to win, and the current tactics work. Every Gamer knows if you change the win-condition you have to change your strategy.

On the Electoral College:
Say Politics is a Chess game. White gets checkmated and complains that he technically won because he had more pieces on the board.

White claims that the rules should change to allow for wins with preponderance of pieces, assuming he will dominate based on previous games.
But Black has never played with that win-condition. Black is crafty and clever and will surely adapt to new win-conditions.

No state elects more or less Delegates to the House than their population dictates, nor is the state's influence of the Executive Branch determined by voter turnout. I'm sure both parties agree that California and Texas shouldn't be able to increase their clout beyond their population-percentage.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:17 am UTC

Ginger wrote:My answer is that peoples are resorting to mud sling, double talk and tribalism because it makes them feel safer in times of unrest.

What about when this was true in the past? One of the articles I listed in my OP pointed out that while we have always had division, the division is now becoming better sorted by party, making it politically useful to deepen the divides. So what we are experiencing today is different than in the past. The explanation of a dangerous world doesn't seem to explain this unless we are in a uniquely dangerous time. But it seems hard to beat the height of the Cold War when race riots seemed imminent, political leaders were being assassinated, and schools would run drills for nuclear attacks.

Thesh wrote:Also, once one party changes the rules, the other party has to respond to keep power

The Right uses that same argument, "It's their fault we're doing this." This doesn't make your point not true, but I do disagree with your analysis of who's to blame. I see the same games played on both sides, just in different shapes and to different degrees. But I don't know how to make that case here without diving headlong into the blame game of politics. That's not something I want to do in this thread, so I suppose that means my case here requires some buy-in that there is a tribalistic problem on both sides.

Regardless of who the evil one is, your NPR quote is exactly the type of arms race and gridlock I'm talking about for the Nash Equilibrium. The extremist position makes discourse and compromise harder, and the other side following suit is exactly my point. The only piece missing is a narrative that fills your side with more relief than dismay at causing the government to grind to a halt.

Thesh wrote:I should also mention that the primary system plays a huge role in taking sides to the extreme - before you can face your opponent, you must be the winner within your party and the more safe the district is for one party the less concern the voters have for nominating a compromise candidates. The less competitive the district, the more extreme the representative.

But what's the fix here? Shouldn't parties be able to choose their candidate however they want? The reason you get more extreme candidates in safe districts is because of our duopoly. The people with the loudest voices and most money play a bigger role, and then the rest of the party just has to live with it because the other alternative is defecting to the enemy.

bantler wrote:The absolutely simple answer is that both sides are playing to win, and the current tactics work. Every Gamer knows if you change the win-condition you have to change your strategy.

This is just stating the premise of the thread. What I'm asking is why the tactics are working, what is driving the sides to this particular strategy. I am proposing that they are circling around the Nash Equilibrium, focusing on ways to stall out the other side. But I'm inviting other explanations that perhaps I haven't thought of.

The implication of this is that if it is the Nash Equilibrium, then we might just be stuck here in this new normal, requiring a structural change to get things moving again.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby bantler » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:25 am UTC

guenther wrote:
bantler wrote:The absolutely simple answer is that both sides are playing to win, and the current tactics work. Every Gamer knows if you change the win-condition you have to change your strategy.

This is just stating the premise of the thread. What I'm asking is why the tactics are working, what is driving the sides to this particular strategy. I am proposing that they are circling around the Nash Equilibrium, focusing on ways to stall out the other side. But I'm inviting other explanations that perhaps I haven't thought of.

The implication of this is that if it is the Nash Equilibrium, then we might just be stuck here in this new normal, requiring a structural change to get things moving again.


I'm open to ponder the tactics, but only why they work, not why they are employed.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:49 am UTC

Unless you address what's going on with the media, you won't be able to see the problem. Nash equilibrium alone cannot explain it. Fox News is literally propaganda - there is just no equivalent on the left. They pushed that Nancy Pelosi line about "you have to pass the bill to see what's in it" and convinced every Republican that the ACA was not made public until after it was passed without an ounce of pushback from anyone on the right (or most of the MSM). Trump lies about everything, but right wing media does everything they can to cover for him. The right has purged itself of everyone who does critical analysis of their policies, and are now calling any bad press "fake news" without any internal pushback. This is deliberately designed to sabotage discourse - the rich want to destroy anything that stands in the way of their wealth, and democracy is in their way. This is corruption, plain and simple; if politicians were acting in good faith on both sides, compromise would be possible.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:56 am UTC

bantler wrote:I'm open to ponder the tactics, but only why they work, not why they are employed.
Clearly if they can't hit fast-balls keep throwing fast-balls.

I get that people do things because it works. We're on the same page there.

Thesh wrote:Unless you address what's going on with the media, you won't be able to see the problem. Nash equilibrium alone cannot explain it.

This is part of my proposal. I'm saying the media and social media are the lever that the sides have used to achieve this gridlock. That's why it's happening today and not earlier, that's why we have fragmented worlds of facts, that's why our division is lining up along party lines.

You're welcome to disagree, but please help me understand which part you're objecting to.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Thesh » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:09 am UTC

My objection is to your bothsiderism and the idea this is just a natural course. One side literally feels like they win whenever government fails, and has completely rejected the idea of working with the other.

http://www.truth-out.org/index.php?opti ... t-the-cult
https://www.alternet.org/media/why-cons ... er-reality
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Nuvector » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:07 am UTC

guenther wrote:
Nuvector wrote:If winning is about shaping policy, then you must compromise (cooperate) to effect your policy of choice and you no longer have a Nash Equilibrium at that point.
Are you saying that this idea is not in line with a Nash Equilibrium?

Correct. NE is a gaming theory. Politics isn't theoretical, and it's no game. The end state of a NE is essentially a stalemate. Stalemates don't work in the political arena for any length of time.

guenther wrote:
Nuvector wrote:It's not so much the parties that are leveraging social media. It would appear that the largest group leveraging social media in American politics today is a sovereign actor (yes, I'm talking about Russia) looking to incent division among both parties. Presumably, their goal is to disrupt normal political processes that would lead to consensus, compromise and actual action (any action is hostile to the goals of a adversarial foreign power.)

I don't have numbers, but my personal experience is whole sections of Facebook and the web aimed at generating weaponized memes attacking the weakest targets of the enemy and providing properly spun narratives for their teammates. This is the lever I'm talking about. Is this not something you see happening?

It's not. The vast majority of people aren't even on Facebook and certainly aren't posting extremist memes and social media attacks, etc. The majority of those in the political arena using social media to persuade and inform are fairly civil by and large. There are fringe elements, filter bubbled extremists spewing hate and the like, but most of the electorate is more concerned (day to day) with work than they are with weaponizing memes.

Lately paid, state-sponsored, agitators and hackers are working to spread divisiveness and hate online in order to disrupt the electoral process as much as is possible. And this work is still ongoing. But real home-grown extremism is thankfully still a minority or fringe element in online politicking.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:02 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Ginger wrote:My answer is that peoples are resorting to mud sling, double talk and tribalism because it makes them feel safer in times of unrest.

What about when this was true in the past? One of the articles I listed in my OP pointed out that while we have always had division, the division is now becoming better sorted by party, making it politically useful to deepen the divides. So what we are experiencing today is different than in the past. The explanation of a dangerous world doesn't seem to explain this unless we are in a uniquely dangerous time. But it seems hard to beat the height of the Cold War when race riots seemed imminent, political leaders were being assassinated, and schools would run drills for nuclear attacks.

Blacks and whites hate each other NOW and could have race wars... I ain't saying it gonna happen but. I encounter hostility from, esp black mens A LOT. So: race wars. We had wars recently in Iraq, Syria... Afghanistan too I think? So: Wars. No nuclear drills yet Trump is threaten Kim Jong Un re: push your nuclear buttons or shut your mouth. Yes, today is not the same as the past, yet there are parallels. And no one got assassinate that I know of? So: You right on one hand yet on the other hand... if our current politicians don't, like, drastically change their attitudes problems? Then: the past is gonna come back to the present and bites us all HARD.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:58 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:My objection is to your bothsiderism and the idea this is just a natural course. One side literally feels like they win whenever government fails, and has completely rejected the idea of working with the other.

If we're talking about who the sides are and why they do what they do, we're not going to see eye to eye. I think your story paints too too clean a narrative with too broad a brush. But I'm not aiming to apply bothsiderism here since I'm not laying out my position; I'm merely stating that I don't throw in with yours. And I'm only doing this because I'm trying to avoid a full-on political debate. :)

I am using bothsiderism on what the sides are doing because (a) we both agree that the GOP did it first, and (b) you and the Democrats both seem to agree that this strategy of shifting to more extreme positions and leaving less space for compromise is worth copying. What you call "natural course", I am saying is incentives built into our system. As bantler put it: keep throwing fast balls if it works. I feel I don't need to go into who is worse than whom to make my case. I just need to establish that this strategy works and then pose the question of why it works.

Nuvector wrote:Correct. NE is a gaming theory. Politics isn't theoretical, and it's no game. The end state of a NE is essentially a stalemate. Stalemates don't work in the political arena for any length of time.

OK, let's focus on a game. Suppose some of the rules in this game change between plays in ways that aren't completely knowable, rules like how much reward or punishment you get for different actions. Can gaming theory cover this type of shifting game, and can the concept of NE be applied at all? My thought is that because of the changing rules you can't get perfect NE, and thus perfect stalemate, but depending on how much they change, the players could circle around a near NE solution, causing gridlock but perhaps occasionally opening things up to allow some forward progress.

Let me know what you think on the compatibility of that with NE. And then there's the extension to thinking of politics as this type of game. Again, let me know if you see a problem with that extension.

Nuvector wrote:But real home-grown extremism is thankfully still a minority or fringe element in online politicking.

Do you think the only way to access this lever is through extremism, hate mongering, and efforts to disrupt elections? We are working with very different examples in our heads. This is the type of thing I'm talking about. It's just the concept of the filter bubble shaping our worldview. It doesn't always have to take the shape of the fringe spewing hate and sowing discord.

Ginger wrote:Then: the past is gonna come back to the present and bites us all HARD.

Your dangerous world theory still doesn't explain what I am highlighting as different this time around.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:48 pm UTC

So, I'm not quite as pessimistic as Thresh, but he makes some good points about how we got to where we are today. Where I am more optimistic is the voter base is not as extreme and hardball as party leadership is. Social media and infotainment news highlights the extremes because it's eyeball grabbing, but most Americans are somewhere in the middle. I personally know Republicans who don't agree with the tactics and were happy that McCain broke ranks to stop the party from ramming their version of health care "reforms." I also know Democrats who don't think the gov't should have been shut down over DACA issues. The political machines have lots of power, but our system, despite imperfections, makes politicians accountable to the people on some level. People are the hope. If you have lost that hope, then you better just go build a bunker and stockpile food, guns, ammo, and cigarettes. Anyway... enough with that...

The state of US politics, Nash Equilibrium* if you will, will not change overnight and you're unlikely to get any grand deals or bargains through the system. But, I think it's possible to make small changes to the system that push everyone in a better direction or foster cooperation better. I think people looking to change gov't should closely examine Nudge Theory, which is a behavioral economics concept, but easily adapted to political and social issues (it's already being done). There's a Nobel prize-winning amounts of research in nudges, but it's basically small or imperceptible incentives or changes to the environment that help direct people's collective behavior towards a goal (good or bad). We aren't getting anywhere with pointing fingers and saying "you're wrong! admit it!" Grand legislative bi-partisan bargains clearly aren't going happen in the current climate. Instead, everyone needs pick the small things we can agree on and act on them, particularly anything that might subtlety nudge politicians and society towards being more moderate and cooperative.

* - Although I understand the concept I have an admittedly emotional reaction to calling US political gridlock "equilibrium"... it's more like stagnation, because US citizens and the rest of world carry on despite US political gridlock. If laws don't keep up with the world your system stagnates or becomes obsolete.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:59 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Your dangerous world theory still doesn't explain what I am highlighting as different this time around.

Okay let's reframe the pic then: WE have a cultures where, everything is political news, even what you do in your bedrooms, and it has always been that way. Every little thing that is in the news highlights a lot of different, conflicting views. That is confusing to possible voters. And every misstep you make be publicize heavily and bosses brush over your social medias to find out if you do stuffs their companies do not agrees with? Peoples calls the cops on each other over minor slights and ruining peoples' lives with criminal charges that follow them around for. Ever. Justice systems be broken everywhere and just imprison you when you need rehabilitation. Still dangerous... and it is happen right now... and, political discussions get confuses by these real news stories, voters not sure who to vote for because we wanna stop crimes and yet don't know how because if you even talks about crimes you may get prosecute? Still dangerous, happen right now and still sidelining all political discusses into dirts, because, we so worked up about all the things happen we can't focus on just one thing.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:14 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:Where I am more optimistic is the voter base is not as extreme and hardball as party leadership is.

This makes me hopeful, too. I believe there is a middle waiting for a voice. But I think the problem comes up when we view the problem through the political lens, and guess what's playing on the news all day every day. It's hard to talk about which policy makes more sense without it getting tangled into which party is pushing for this and what behaviors they've done in the past. It's hard to listen to a political talking head without wondering which side their on, what angle they're coming from. I'm not predicting that we're about to fight in the street over our differences. I'm saying that this prism of our duopoly is causing trouble.

Ranbot wrote:Instead, everyone needs pick the small things we can agree on and act on them, particularly anything that might subtlety nudge politicians and society towards being more moderate and cooperative.

I really like the idea of Nudge, but my understanding is that it really shines when you help people do what they already want to do, and you're just lowering barriers. (I got that from here.) This works for things like giving people default options on their 401k since people clearly want free money, but they're not taking the effort needed to get it.

But my concern with politics is, how do you nudge someone to a place they don't want to be? If the underlying cause is that we're all just filter bubbling ourselves into discord, but with some better practices we'll wake up and realize the damage we're causing, then OK I'm with you. But if there are incentives driving our filter bubbles to look a certain way, people shaping these attention grabbing headlines just so, benefits for sharpening the boundary lines a little more, then I'm less convinced.

I think there's a reason why we've shifted away from a place of moderation and cooperation to a place of efficient party sorting and a diminished space for compromise. And I'm not convinced that a nudge can overcome the forces driving us there.

Ginger wrote:Still dangerous, happen right now and still sidelining all political discusses into dirts, b/c, we so worked up about all the things happen we can't focus on just one thing.

Would this story make you predict that our divisions would one day become so well sorted along party lines? What I'm looking for is a mechanism out of this that would cause that. The world has been a messy place for a long time but something is different now.

I am putting out the idea that our filter bubbles plus political incentive is doing it. Do you have any particular objections to that? Or are you just searching for an explanation that resonates better with you?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:41 pm UTC

Yes, our natural biases to thoughts that agree with us and political incentives like support from your peers/party for dissing all opposing views are... major players in why the world is how it is today. Sorry if my posts about politics tend to ramble and not get to the point. I believe that our tendency to stay in our bubbles and political supports/kudos from your party, to sort all people into these parties, or not support them when they disagree and publicly disavow their existences... creates: A hostile political climates without any room for even good faith dialogues about contentions. Because we so busy being politically right to stay in line with the two parties that we miss all nuances and colors in politics debates and instead focus only on black and white without Any Shades of Grays.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:28 pm UTC

I'm with you. And I like your style. :) I just had to dive in and pick in this case because I'm seeking out critiques of this idea. This is the first time I've road tested it with people I don't know, and I want to see if the wheels stay on.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:08 pm UTC

Well, my critiques can be simplify re: the idea to two talking points. One: Two parties explaining our massive divisions are too simple to truly explain why the USA has such fragmented, mud slinging politics. Two: If there were really only two parties then independents wouldn't exist at all? I'll just cut to the chase: Even I, who heavily believe Democrats and Republicans are playing games, believes that... in their hearts, they are doing what they think is right for our country. Even Trump. So how can I blame them for ruining our countries too?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:13 am UTC

1) The two parties aren't meant to explain why we can have very energetic differences; that has been around since politics began. Instead it's about trying to understand how those fissures are being shaped, how our differences are now more sorted along party lines than ever before.

2) But we really do only have two parties (of political significance), and yet we also have independents. I think this just comes down to our voting system fostering a duopoly. There are a lot of people that would love to have their particular set of political concerns spoken to, but they just keep getting stuck with having to pick the lessor of two evils.

Chase) I think this is really good insight that can help sidestep the sharpening of the political divide. I do still think there's ample room for upsetness at various behaviors, but that doesn't have to include demonizing and broad brushing. And it would also be good if we had a richer palette of emotions that we could send over as well, more than just outrage and blame.

Just like you can have resonance that makes a wine glass hum, I think there's a feedback in politics that can amplify a lot of this negative behavior. I'm all for holding people responsible for what they do, but I also think it's worth looking into whether their are structural pieces that might be causing this resonance in the first place.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:55 am UTC

guenther wrote:You can justify almost anything by saying, "What about Nazis?" But are we in greater danger of Nazis or of people stoking the fear of Nazis to push an agenda?
So, like -- on one hand, I don't want to leap on this comment with the fury of an exploding sun, because this is a discussion about interactions achieving a state of stagnation as a result of polarizing positions. That being said, I also can't simply let the comment stand as is:

To answer your question: Yes, we are in greater danger of Nazis. Because Nazis are still a thing; they still kill people every year -- and they've been having political rallies across the country at least once a month (sometimes it seems more like every week).

Like, I'm not trying to fear-monger here; I'm not even trying to assign blame: But Nazi politics are on the rise. Throughout the world, and here in America. And since they actually murder people, I'm going to say that yes -- we are way, way, way more in danger of an actual, genuine, 100% literal Nazi than someone who screams "Nazi" while pointing at their political opponent.
guenther wrote:My question for the thread is why are the sides doing this? Why are the parties shifting to the political edges and leaving little room for discourse, let alone compromise? My proposed answer is the Nash Equilibrium. But more importantly I just want people to think past blaming each other or blaming tribalism. If both sides are adopting this strategy, it makes sense to me that there must be some lure within the system of the game.
But it is tribalism -- and tribalism is what makes the 'Nash Equilibrium' a thing.

At some point, politicians realized that nothing consolidates a community quicker than the emergence of a threat. Since their opponents weren't actually waging war against them, they went for the next best thing: An illusionary 'culture war'. They found the most extreme voices among their opposition and elevated those voices to positions of imagined authority in mythical conspiracies. They then positioned themselves as the only remaining option to oppose these conspiracies -- men of 'last resort' who were willing to make the 'hard decisions' to protect us. This is how they got elected.

Once they realized that threats sell, the media got in on this too -- the 24 hour crisis news cycle is a product of a constant threat, a constant crisis, a constant catastrophe threatening to destroy our way of life. They took the pile of dogshit that politicians were selling and repackaged it, re-branded it, and started producing it for mass consumption.

And that's what we're dealing with now: The consequences of a myth where we are constantly under siege by imagined enemies. In opposing these fictional enemies, we've become a response to them -- a reflection of them. We adopt their 'techniques' because they leave us no choice. We make horrible, violent decisions in response to them; when this results in an actual threat, we point to this threat as evidence that our initial response was wholly correct and warranted. In pursuit of social and political power, we've created narratives to convince our respective 'tribes' that extremism was the only way to protect our way of life -- and in doing so, we created socio-political engines that radicalize us into rabid fucking animals.

The irony here is that there are people in America who are genuinely under threat -- people who might be shot and killed tomorrow. And they're the ones who these engines are typically designating as our 'enemies'. They're the ones who are going to 'destroy us all'.

(This probably has a lot to do with the fact that it's easier to define someone with no public voice as your enemy. Part of why McCarthyism failed is because McCarthy started defining powerful people as a threat; powerful people can exert their power and call you out on your bullshit. But undocumented immigrants? If you tell everyone they're murdering and raping across America, how can they call you on your bullshit? There's no undocumented immigrants in Congress or the Senate. This is also a fundamental aspect of fascism itself; you need to define threats that are too weak to speak out against you, but can simultaneously be described as powerful and dangerous)

You only break this cycle by 1) Refusing to become an extremist, 2) Identifying the extremists, 3) Isolating the extremists from power, and finally, 4) De-escalating/Disassembling the absurdly destructive apparatus the extremists constructed to fight their non-existent enemies.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:39 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:You only break this cycle by 1) Refusing to become an extremist, 2) Identifying the extremists, 3) Isolating the extremists from power, and finally, 4) De-escalating/Disassembling the absurdly destructive apparatus the extremists constructed to fight their non-existent enemies.

The hard part of that process seems to be to be how to do steps 2 and 3 without the people on those extremists' sides just painting you as the opposite extremist taking extreme actions to undermine them, the reasonable moderates whom you've falsely identified as extremists. And, perhaps even more worryingly, how do you make sure that you're not actually doing that.

Like, I intend not to be an extremist, I actively try to seek out best-of-both-worlds win-win solutions and least-bad-of-either-world pragmatic compromises, I "try on" every moderate, centrist, or third-way position I come across and try to make them work until something proves to me that they just won't work and then I try to find the next best thing, and after of all of that trying not to be partisan and not to take sides, having "tried on" positions as far apart as Marxism and anarcho-capitalism, my view on American politics is that the Democratic party holds a moderate compromise position between the extremes exemplified by the Republican party and their opposite extreme who have no real political representation in America.

So, despite trying my best to not take sides, I find myself (disappointedly) feeling forced to say that one party is clearly the dangerous extremists and the other is the reasonable(ish) moderates, and the way forward is to isolate the Republicans from power. (And then from there, to establish a new balance between the disenfranchised progressive left and the kind of libertarian who thinks themselves a centrist, the compromise between which would be even closer to my ideal position). But to a Republican voter, who thinks they themselves are reasonable common-sense moderate Americans, I just look like an extremist Democrat. How can I avoid giving that false impression, and more importantly, how can I be sure that isn't actually true?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby natraj » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:50 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:how can I be sure that isn't actually true?


mostly because there's no such thing as extremist democrats in america right now. the democrat party ranges from "centrist" democrats who are really approximately, politically, where the republican party stood in the reaganish era, to bernie sanders sort of soft-soc-dems. that's as left as it gets! if you want to be extremist you have to leave the democratic party and go farther left.

i mean, to the other half of the question "how do you avoid giving the impression of extremism to republicans" that's a lost cause, the majority of the republican party no longer deals in facts. being a democrat is inherently extremist to much of the right so!
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:55 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:But to a Republican voter, who thinks they themselves are reasonable common-sense moderate Americans, I just look like an extremist Democrat. How can I avoid giving that false impression, and more importantly, how can I be sure that isn't actually true?
For the latter question, the solution is rigorous habits of intellectual and ethical hygiene. Question yourself; question your motives. Engage in perpetual self-examination and self-assessment. Are your opinions changing over time? Whenever you finish with an argument or discussion, perform an autopsy -- re-examine your points. Do you think they still stand? Have you learned anything new? In short: Always, always, always work to undermine your own narrative. Remember: the more certain you are, the more at risk you are of being completely wrong.

This is an exhausting, boring process; self-maintenance usually is. It's also of incredible importance. Again: Self-maintenance usually is.

Regarding the former question -- to echo natraj's own point: You can't. If you've been radicalized to perceive everyone who disagrees with you as an enemy, I become an enemy merely by pointing this out.

That's the insidiousness of the narrative: Evidence that disproves the conspiracy is taken as evidence that the conspiracy just goes that far. See this 'Deep State' nonsense. That's the sort of dreck that should be confined to backwater conspiracy websites. And yet we're having discussions about it on the news -- how the fuck did that happen?

Because our communities are that invested in their narrative of a culture war.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:06 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:For the latter question, the solution is rigorous habits of intellectual and ethical hygiene. Question yourself; question your motives. Engage in perpetual self-examination and self-assessment.

I take a different stance than TGH. I think you should follow your instincts on what naturally feels more right intellectually and ethically. Does your mind and feelings tell you when you lie, cheat or harm someone or steal that it is bad? Then don't do it. If your instincts don't tell you the right answer then there is help available to bring your mind to a healthy balance with reality. It's kind of like "mindfulness" remembering to trust your mind and pay careful attention to it... anyways, politicians could do it too to avoid narratives of conspiracies, which are psychotic delusions.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:56 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Ranbot wrote:Instead, everyone needs pick the small things we can agree on and act on them, particularly anything that might subtlety nudge politicians and society towards being more moderate and cooperative.

I really like the idea of Nudge, but my understanding is that it really shines when you help people do what they already want to do, and you're just lowering barriers. (I got that from here.) This works for things like giving people default options on their 401k since people clearly want free money, but they're not taking the effort needed to get it.

But my concern with politics is, how do you nudge someone to a place they don't want to be? If the underlying cause is that we're all just filter bubbling ourselves into discord, but with some better practices we'll wake up and realize the damage we're causing, then OK I'm with you. But if there are incentives driving our filter bubbles to look a certain way, people shaping these attention grabbing headlines just so, benefits for sharpening the boundary lines a little more, then I'm less convinced.

How about...A nudge law that if a representative or a coalition of representatives introduces a bill that passes both houses without overriding standard House and Senate rules (e.g. the Senate 50 vote "nuclear" option, blocking debate, etc.) they and/or their state gets a monetary bonus. Let's pay the people who make laws instead of blocking laws.

I also think a simple environment change like turning off the cameras to let representatives debate and negotiate without the 24/7 infotainment news and pundits trying to turn every word they utter into a circus would have a positive impact on Congress.

Other systematic changes could negotiated with some careful application of common sense arguments.... like independent approval of any redrawn political districts, like most other major industrialized democracies in the world have. Or reforming the electoral college to give third parties a better shot at having a voice. Those are bigger asks, but the common sense democratic grounds are there. Also, these changes can be made on a state-by-state basis... when enough states get on board with an issue the fed often follows.


Beyond nudges... a big sweeping change would be if the moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats broke ranks and formed an independent coalition or made a harder break by forming a third party. I think there's a huge untapped appetite in Americans for a business-friendly and socially progressive platform. Most of the country's most divisive issues fall into one of those two categories, and voters have to choose which one matters to them more and hold their nose to rest of the shit in the party. But outside of two-party politics, there's no logical reason someone who supports tax cuts and lower regulations has to support pro-life and "traditional" values issues; or that someone who supports immigration-friendly policies and recognizing LGBT rights also has to support more business regulations, raising the minimum wage, and union rights.

The silver lining of our ugly two-party politics might be that the more unbearable the stench gets for moderate voters the more likely a third party becomes. I do think the will is there... there are hints of it. Like Ron_Paul's popularity when he ran for president, Romney publicly denouncing Trump, there are business-friendly Democrats who have won several state Governor seats, and other prominent representatives breaking ranks. The much vilified Koch Brothers political spending is actually very pragmatically business focused and they do support some business-friendly Democrats, so I could imagine the Koch Brothers and others groups of similar mind putting the needed financial support into an alternative party.
Last edited by Ranbot on Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:37 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:02 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:To answer your question: Yes, we are in greater danger of Nazis. Because Nazis are still a thing; they still kill people every year -- and they've been having political rallies across the country at least once a month (sometimes it seems more like every week).

So therefore we don't need to support fair and equitable voting systems if they're just helping people we disagree with? I'm just trying to follow the chain of logic, because that's what I was addressing in my reference to metaphorical Nazis. We were talking about fear of the majority, by the way, not real Nazis.

But I do think that overplaying "Nazi" threats is more dangerous than actual flag waving Nazis. I heard a recent podcast in a similar vein (I could probably dig up the link if interested) about an historian who discussed how partisan bickering is actually part of a healthy democracy, and it only becomes a danger when people start talking about a distrust of our democratic system to function. Comparing people to Nazis seems like the perfect breeding ground for that.

The Great Hippo wrote:But it is tribalism -- and tribalism is what makes the 'Nash Equilibrium' a thing.

I had a real hard time following this. It sounds like you're disputing my assertion that tribalism is being used as a tool, but then you build a story of how tribalism is being used as a tool. And since you don't give any time frames, I don't know how it helps explain the partisan sorting that we see happening today. So I'm a bit lost.

Pfhorrest wrote:The hard part of that process seems to be to be how to do steps 2 and 3 without the people on those extremists' sides just painting you as the opposite extremist taking extreme actions to undermine them, the reasonable moderates whom you've falsely identified as extremists. And, perhaps even more worryingly, how do you make sure that you're not actually doing that.

I completely disagree with the approach of focusing on extremism. OK, when the president gives a pass to actual flag-waving Nazis or retweets British hate groups, then I agree that there needs to be a discussion on these groups. But otherwise I think this is the wrong lens to view any of this through. What we want is more understanding, not marginalizing. We need to soften the divide, not sharpen it.

I don't want to go too far into the weeds of sorting out which party is the real problem. For the purpose of this thread, I'm merely highlighting that the GOP hardline strategy has apparently worked well enough to be copied by Democrats. But I will briefly share my perspective that I think a lot of the opinions expressed here about the GOP, including "dangerous extremists", reflect a severe lack of understanding (like what I was trying to help fix with my Crossing Divides thread). This picture is hard to sort out from the talking heads in the media, but that's my point, that there's a narrative about the other side that is clear, simple, and wrong. But there are other conservative voices that share a much more reasoned approach to their ideology and positions. Trump has actually been a great litmus test on who is simply there to carry the water for the Republican team.

Ranbot wrote:How about...

I think state-by-state fixes are more likely to be implemented as far as they will go. To have congress come together and solve the partisan bickering, they will first need to overcome their partisan bickering. But in general I'm all for creative efforts to find solutions to this, though with the caveat that ones involving regulation should be tied to metrics of how well they succeed at accomplishing their goal.

But the particulars of the solution aside, my main focus is on just establishing that this is a real problem, and, if my idea is correct, that we'll need structural changes to fix it.

Ranbot wrote:The much vilified Koch Brothers political spending is actually very pragmatically business focused and they do support some business-friendly Democrats, so I could imagine the Koch Brothers and others groups of similar mind putting the needed financial support into an alternative party.

But why would the Koch Brothers break rank with the Republicans? I can only see that happening if they aren't getting what they want. But that doesn't seem to be the case with all the deregulation and the tax breaks.

It's not a matter of who could they play nice with, it's about what will move them from their current position. And that's true of any of the party constituents. Maybe we'll get there with enough disgruntlement, but to me that just puts the whole issue in stark relief: why do we have to work so hard to get somebody that actually represent our voices? Why can't it just be baked in that politicians have to actually compete for our hearts and minds.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:22 am UTC

guenther wrote:So therefore we don't need to support fair and equitable voting systems if they're just helping people we disagree with? I'm just trying to follow the chain of logic, because that's what I was addressing in my reference to metaphorical Nazis. We were talking about fear of the majority, by the way, not real Nazis.
Here's what you asked:
guenther wrote:You can justify almost anything by saying, "What about Nazis?" But are we in greater danger of Nazis or of people stoking the fear of Nazis to push an agenda?
(emphasis mine)

I answered: People using our fear of Nazis to push their agenda is really bad, but actual Nazis are definitely worse. Now you're saying you were talking about metaphorical Nazis? That just makes me confused. If we rewrite your question with that in mind, it comes out like this:
pseudo-guenther wrote:But are we in greater danger of metaphorical, not-at-all-real Nazis or of people stoking the fear of these metaphorical, not-at-all real Nazis to push an agenda?
I guess this makes sense if your question was meant rhetorically ('Accusing these people of being Nazis is far more dangerous than the people themselves, who are clearly not Nazis'), but that's a really strange way to phrase that? I mean, that statement is so trivially true it's borderline definitional ("Calling a safe person dangerous is more dangerous than a safe person").

Like, yes: If you start by presuming someone isn't a Nazi, then accusing them of being a Nazi is much more dangerous than the non-existent threat that they might be a Nazi.
guenther wrote:I had a real hard time following this. It sounds like you're disputing my assertion that tribalism is being used as a tool, but then you build a story of how tribalism is being used as a tool. And since you don't give any time frames, I don't know how it helps explain the partisan sorting that we see happening today. So I'm a bit lost.
Look, here's your quote:
guenther wrote:But more importantly I just want people to think past blaming each other or blaming tribalism.
(emphasis mine)

You're saying: 'Don't blame each other, don't blame tribalism'. I'm saying: 'But this is tribalism. People are using tribalism as a tool!'. And now you're saying: 'I know it's tribalism, why are you acting like I just said we shouldn't blame tribalism?!'

I'm not trying to be a dick, here. Honest. Help me out: Am I missing something? Because it feels like one of us is missing something -- and try as I might, I can't see how it's me.
guenther wrote:I completely disagree with the approach of focusing on extremism. OK, when the president gives a pass to actual flag-waving Nazis or retweets British hate groups, then I agree that there needs to be a discussion on these groups. But otherwise I think this is the wrong lens to view any of this through. What we want is more understanding, not marginalizing. We need to soften the divide, not sharpen it.
I mean, you focus on extremism by focusing on moderates -- you focus on the people who aren't extremists, focus on where you agree and overlap, and consolidate a base to oppose extremism and try to move people back to positions of tolerance, temperance, and moderation. I'm all about that. I love finding places where we agree.

But, like -- the problem isn't that we disagree regarding the President (it sounds like we don't!). The problem is that Nazis are killing people. The problem is that extremists are deporting people -- tearing them from their families, their homes, their lives. The problem is that people are losing their sources of income. The problem is that police are shooting people. The problem is that people's lives are being violently transformed and/or destroyed.

I get that you want to focus on moderation, and I get why -- and I'd like that to be the focus of my approach, too. But can you understand how this desire to focus on moderate issues comes from a position of privilege? Maybe it's presumptuous of me, and if so, I apologize. But: It seems unlikely to me that you're familiar with the fear of you or your loved ones being deported -- or that cold shock of mortal terror every time you see the flash of a police car's lights in a rear-view mirror. If you were, I think you might not want to focus on moderation so much as focus on the extremists who are literally pushing for policies that are deporting and/or killing you.

These are legitimate fears that people are facing every day -- legitimate fears that come true every day. Saying we shouldn't focus on the extremism that enables these threats -- that delivers on them -- seems disrespectful to the people who live with them.

People are being assaulted, imprisoned, deported, and killed over this. It's been happening for a very, very long time -- and I'd for it to stop. I'm pretty sure that you do, too? But we're not going to get there by 'agreeing to disagree'.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:32 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I answered: People using our fear of Nazis to push their agenda is really bad, but actual Nazis are definitely worse. Now you're saying you were talking about metaphorical Nazis? That just makes me confused.

I don't plan to spend any time on relitigating any of the past. I'm happy letting my words stand for what they are, but I can provide more details on any of my positions you're unsure of.

In this case I was expressing my disapproval of not wanting to provide fair and equitable elections if the cost is that many people you disagree with are getting out there and voting. I'm perfectly fine with you having a different hierarchy of bad things than me, and the purpose of this thread is not for me to convince you otherwise.

The Great Hippo wrote:You're saying: 'Don't blame each other, don't blame tribalism'. I'm saying: 'But this is tribalism. People are using tribalism as a tool!'. And now you're saying: 'I know it's tribalism, why are you acting like I just said we shouldn't blame tribalism?!'

For the purpose of this thread I am trying to get people to look past saying tribalism is bad. I agree it's bad; I am just trying to take the analysis further. I've provided my analysis and I'm opening it up to critique.

The Great Hippo wrote: These are legitimate fears that people are facing every day -- legitimate fears that come true every day. Saying we shouldn't focus on the extremism that enables these threats -- that delivers on them -- seems disrespectful to the people who live with them.

It sounds like a fine thing to focus on extremism if you are so inclined. I am not intending to tell you or anyone else to do otherwise. My point is that I think it's an unhelpful lens through which to understand the political divide. That divide is what I'm trying to look at in this thread. Not in terms of who's at fault, but whether there are systemic pieces in place that are making it worse.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:00 am UTC

guenther wrote:I don't plan to spend any time on relitigating any of the past. I'm happy letting my words stand for what they are, but I can provide more details on any of my positions you're unsure of.

In this case I was expressing my disapproval of not wanting to provide fair and equitable elections if the cost is that many people you disagree with are getting out there and voting. I'm perfectly fine with you having a different hierarchy of bad things than me, and the purpose of this thread is not for me to convince you otherwise.
I agree with that; I was just pointing out a problem I had with the question you used to illustrate your point. I'm still genuinely confused, but I'm okay with just being confused -- particularly if all you're saying is "we shouldn't stop people from voting just because we don't like who they'll vote for". I mean, I already 'got' that part of what you said; I just thought the Nazi thing was weird and wanted to point out my issue with it.
guenther wrote:For the purpose of this thread I am trying to get people to look past saying tribalism is bad. I agree it's bad; I am just trying to take the analysis further. I've provided my analysis and I'm opening it up to critique.
Okay, that's a valid thing to be concerned with (it's easy to stop at "tribalism is bad" and not talk about solutions to tribalism), but can you at least understand why I found your response confusing? We shouldn't just blame tribalism, but tribalism is clearly part of the problem.
guenther wrote:It sounds like a fine thing to focus on extremism if you are so inclined. I am not intending to tell you or anyone else to do otherwise. My point is that I think it's an unhelpful lens through which to understand the political divide. That divide is what I'm trying to look at in this thread. Not in terms of who's at fault, but whether there are systemic pieces in place that are making it worse.
I mean, I don't really care that much about pointing fingers so much as I care about whether or not the people I love get shot at, abused, killed, and/or deported -- and how stopping this probably means addressing our political divide.

I'm certainly not asking you to abandon your preference for moderation. I'm mostly just asking you if you can understand how presuming a focus on moderation is the 'best' way to navigate this political divide might look to someone who's whole life has been subjected to the whims of extremism. It's like there's people burning down your house, and you've got someone telling you that the best way to address this is by focusing on all those nice folks who aren't carrying torches. Even in a world where you're absolutely right (and I don't think we inhabit that world, but hey; opinions can differ), I still think this is a hurtful thing to say.

I think there's room for moderates who want to focus on moderation -- I'd even go so far as saying we need them. You can't have reconciliation without someone who's willing to speak with a soft, gentle voice. This is why I'm a pacifist! But as a pacifist, I have to stop and acknowledge the stakes some of us are facing. When I tell you that I'm worried about people I love getting shot, killed, and/or deported, do you think I've fallen for a lie? Do you think I'm operating under an unrealistic fear? Do you believe me when I tell you that these are risks people I care about face every day?

I'm not going to flip out if your answer is 'no'; if anything, I'll probably be relieved? Your post makes a lot more sense if you don't.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:24 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm certainly not asking you to abandon your preference for moderation.

I'm not talking about a preference for moderation. I'm talking about understanding.

I encourage you to review my first post if you are unsure of what I'm trying to accomplish in this thread. I have an idea, and I'm putting it up to scrutiny. If part of my case is built on identity, be it privilege or an appropriate level of suffering, I consider that undesirable for my purposes. I want my idea to succeed or fail purely on the merits of my arguments, not who I am.

If my idea is something you would like to discuss, then I'd be happy to talk about that here.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Zamfir » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:44 pm UTC

To get back to the original topic:
There is a standard nash-equilibrium model of 2-party politics, called the median voter theorem, or Hotelling's law.

This model says pretty much the opposite of tribalism or polarization. It predicts that the two parties will be nearly indistinguishable centrist parties, who can ignore their more partisan supporters because those people have nowhere else to go. This model might be too simple, but it surely captures some real-life aspects of American politics. There's a reason why Futurama had John Jackson and Jack Johnson as presidential candidates...

If I understand you correctly, you want to use game theory to explain divergent parties, instead of this standard prediction of convergent parties. In that case, you'll need to pose some strong mechanism to counteract the Hotelling effect. What would that be?

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:23 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I'm not talking about a preference for moderation. I'm talking about understanding.
I mean, I'm struggling to explain myself to you, and I feel like you're not even trying to understand? I feel like that for a thread about trying to communicate across divides, be understanding, and make compromises, you're demonstrating very little interest in any of these things?
guenther wrote:If my idea is something you would like to discuss, then I'd be happy to talk about that here.
I probably mischaracterized you in my earlier posts without even realizing it; for that I apologize. That being said, I don't think you're the sort of person I can discuss these sort of topics with? Communicating with someone about these issues requires me to expose myself in certain ways, and I don't feel as if I can trust you to treat that vulnerability gently.

This has been a deeply unpleasant conversation for me. I've enjoyed talking to you in the past, but I've always found a certain painful element of paternalism in your tone; that element has only intensified here. I feel very much as if you treat others like children, and don't put nearly sufficient effort into listening or understanding them.

Maybe that's a thing I'm guilty of, too? That might be a positive thing I can take away from this experience. I will strive to listen more closely to others in the future before engaging with them.

Either way, good luck with your approach; I hope you have success. I will leave you to it.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby dg61 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:22 am UTC

Aren’t there some simple fixes?

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:09 am UTC

Ginger's List of Simple Fixes re: Our Political Climates:

  • Politicians practices mindfulness every day to reduce sharpness of polarization and conspiracy delusions re: Dems and Conservs.
  • Banning by law of mud slinging, digging up dirt on opponents in political offices campaigns
  • Banning of excessive funds or fame use in politics campaigns
  • A neutral third party oversees politics policy making, debates and public appearances from now on
  • Contracts oblige politicians to use clear, simple languages about what they campaigning for, choose parties other than Libs or Repubs if their policies don't fit

Thank you for reading. <3 You all.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby dg61 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:50 am UTC

I was actually thinking of "kill the power of the Speaker of the House(would literally only require minor internal rule changes), axe the filibuster or revise it to require that it only be one person talking and it has to be both continous and on-topic, and maybe dump the Hastert Rule, also increase the size of congress and implement nonpartisan redistricting and two-round primaries like California's system".

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:00 am UTC

Then don't ask a vague questions next times and provide your own fixes? Wow. I lit... just types everything I type for nothing?
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:59 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:If I understand you correctly, you want to use game theory to explain divergent parties, instead of this standard prediction of convergent parties. In that case, you'll need to pose some strong mechanism to counteract the Hotelling effect. What would that be?

I wasn't aiming to do that because I didn't know about that. :) But it sounds like a great place to explore. My quick response to quickly reading up on the Hotelling effect is that it would happen when there's a product we can provide, but there's no clear way for me to make mine better than yours. The Wikipedia page mentions that product differentiation is an advantage if you can do it, so my thought is that this effect happens with toothpaste and things where there's no easy way for me to protect my distinct features.

Politics doesn't seem to neatly fit into this because we don't all want the same toothpaste. So each side of the duopoly can make huge inroads on differentiation and perhaps even make that a feature of how different our toothpaste is from theirs.

I'm not completely sure on the John Jackson thing. Maybe when advertising to the public, market differentiation is the key, but behind the scenes the special interests really do want similar things (I'm thinking of catering to big Wall Street types), and there they converge a bit on what types of loopholes they're willing to draft up. An alternative idea is that John Jackson is a thing of the past with our push towards stronger polarization.


**EDIT: Thinking about it more, I came up with another couple of points. First, in the marketplace we do see examples of stable differentiation with some rivalry thrown in, like with Pepsi and Coke, or Mac and PC. The rivalry seems like it would help foster brand loyalty.

But politics is different from the marketplace in that we're not all making our own consumer choices, but rather competing for control of our shared policy. So it's not good enough to get someone to like pepperoni but then only shrug when everyone else wants sausage. You want them to promote the idea that pepperoni is actually the better choice for everyone. This is incentive to dial up the rivalry knob. And part of my explanation is that in our modern world we've got very powerful levers for dialing this up, pushing to a near complete differentiation with almost no room for a common perspective.

The Great Hippo wrote:I mean, I'm struggling to explain myself to you, and I feel like you're not even trying to understand? I feel like that for a thread about trying to communicate across divides, be understanding, and make compromises, you're demonstrating very little interest in any of these things?

But this thread is not about any of those things. That's the pickle I keep finding myself in. Each time you've confronted me, you've been completely wrong about what I'm trying to say, and you push into an area that's off-topic. Fixing that means taking time to explain myself in more detail, which has so far just found us in even more misunderstanding. And on top of that, I'd have to get clarification on areas where I'm unclear on what you're saying, and then we'd have to hash out the areas of disagreement. Plus we'd likely continue stumbling through these painful occasions of confusion, all the while having no clear objective or reason to think we're going to come to anything productive, let alone relevant to the thread. At whatever end comes of that, we will have dumped so much off-topic posts back and forth that I would have diluted the real value that I'm getting out of this thread right now. Hopefully this helps you understand the reluctance I have to go down that road.

I've learned from my old days here on the forums that if you have something you want to accomplish, it's best to keep a laser focus on it. So that's what I've been aiming to do. Sorry it's been a frustration for you. I am open to talking about other things, just not here. If you still have interest in a discussion, please feel free to point me to an appropriate forum or PM me. And of course you are quite welcome to stay and chat about anything on-topic.

dg61 wrote:I was actually thinking of "kill the power of the Speaker of the House(would literally only require minor internal rule changes), axe the filibuster or revise it to require that it only be one person talking and it has to be both continous and on-topic, and maybe dump the Hastert Rule, also increase the size of congress and implement nonpartisan redistricting and two-round primaries like California's system".

Let me make a quick clarification that this thread is actually for establishing whether there is something like Nash Equilibrium going on, not specifically about solving it mainly because there's likely lots of options and no clear way to determine which would work better. But having said that, I'm happy with some exploration of the various solutions. As for your suggestions, I'd be open to considering any of them, but I don't have any special insight into how well they'd work. If you think any of them would help more than opening the field to third parties, I'd be interested in hearing how.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby dg61 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:08 am UTC

I was thinking in terms of 'changing the rules'

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ginger » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:31 am UTC

How you wanna change rules? Kill filibusters, dump the Hastert rules, kill Speakers' of the House powers, and implement non-partisan blah-blah. How you gonna do it? Lobby politically with your own monies? Once they put into practices, how you gonna keep them relevant and current? You got to make sure your theory accounts for every possible problem before you present it as a game changer. Or at least as much problems as you reasonably can... and you... sounds to me: Like: You just here to tell us How It Is and then go on in the same politics climates we have, never changing ANY rules. Just my feels love them or leave them.
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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby Ranbot » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:34 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I mean, I'm struggling to explain myself to you, and I feel like you're not even trying to understand? I feel like that for a thread about trying to communicate across divides, be understanding, and make compromises, you're demonstrating very little interest in any of these things?

But this thread is not about any of those things...Each time you've confronted me, you've been completely wrong about what I'm trying to say, and you push into an area that's off-topic...

I've learned from my old days here on the forums that if you have something you want to accomplish, it's best to keep a laser focus on it. So that's what I've been aiming to do. Sorry it's been a frustration for you....

Guenther, I agree that The Great Hippo's focus on tribalistic causes and racist factions is probably off-topic; albeit an important related side-issue. I personally don't think the offered solution of calling out all Republicans for a minority of extreme racists that have joined them [paraphrased] will help our political situation in the long term, as satisfying as that would feel in the moment. But that might be going off-topic? ...Maybe...I'm not really sure...more on this below....
guenther wrote:
dg61 wrote:I was actually thinking of... [various suggested of solutions]...
...Let me make a quick clarification that this thread is actually for establishing whether there is something like Nash Equilibrium going on, not specifically about solving it mainly because there's likely lots of options and no clear way to determine which would work better. But having said that, I'm happy with some exploration of the various solutions.

guenther wrote:...But the particulars of the solution aside, my main focus is on just establishing that this is a real problem, and, if my idea is correct, that we'll need structural changes to fix it....

Guenther, maybe you set the bounds of the discussion too narrowly? What does proving that US politics is in a state of Nash Equilibrium do? How does that narrow topic help to understand how we got to this state, or how to break out of it? I think everyone else in this discussion is more interested in one of those other questions. In your intro [which I re-read] and other statements you have opened the door for people to discuss causes and solutions, but you seem far less interested in joining them there. I think you have to better explain/prove to others why the narrow interest in Nash Equilibrium is such a vitally important step to understanding or solving the political situation we are in.

Personally, I accept that we're in a state of political gridlock that is fostering nasty divisive politics that is hurting our country. Whether it's Nash Equilibrium or something else, seems somewhat irrelevant to me and the solutions will probably will be similar, regardless of what the specific details of the cause are.

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Re: Nash Equilibrium in American politics

Postby guenther » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:47 am UTC

Ranbot wrote:What does proving that US politics is in a state of Nash Equilibrium do? How does that narrow topic help to understand how we got to this state, or how to break out of it?

The short version is that the Nash Equilibrium is my answer to how we got into this state, and it carries along with it implications of what potential solutions should look like. We might have great ideas for bringing people together, but some could fail in a situation of political NE. If you're right that this particular lens is irrelevant to helping us solve the problem of gridlock, then I'd say that discredits my idea. Which is fine, that's the type of feedback I'm looking for. But the premise of this thread is that this lens is important.

Let me give a longer answer in three parts: 1) Why I personally created this thread, 2) Why I think it's a worthy of discussion, and 3) Why I don't want to simply discuss our partisan divide.

1) My selfish reason for making this thread is because I'm really fascinated by the idea. I've pondered the partisan divide for a while and have listened to a lot of people talk about it, but I have never heard this particular idea put forth. I've brought it up with friends on FB and such, but no one has really engaged with it as something serious. I wanted to put it forth as a real game theory type idea, to see if I was using the concepts correctly, and to see what the implications might come of it being true.

2) The idea of a political Nash Equilibrium is not simply meant as hyperbole to express "Boo partisanship, yay third parties!" If what I'm saying is true, that we have structural pieces that are incentivizing our descent into hyperpartisanship, then the solution really needs to be aimed at figuring out which ones those are and finding fixes. So this isn't simply about brainstorming ideas for getting people to build bridges and work together. It's about finding what makes it advantageous to efficiently sort our divisions by party and to drive deep wedges between the sides. This is about solving a very particular problem.

3) As for why I don't want it to wander endlessly around general fixes to partisanship, first of all, if it had done that in the beginning, it may not have come back around to the game theory side and I wouldn't have learned about Hotelling's Law. But second, there's a lot of people already discussing our political gridlock, and I frankly don't know what we can add. This doesn't make this topic fruitless, but as we've seen, it's easy to come up with big lists of things that can help, but no real way to evaluate their relative impact. So I thought anchoring it to solving a particular game theory problem would give us more structure in terms of comparing ideas.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


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