Posts Tagged ‘Game theory’

The game theoretic advantage goes to the Republicans

February 8, 2010

Pundits have asked themselves why it is so difficult for the Democrats to get things done even with 60 votes in the Senate, whereas the Republicans seem to do just fine with 50 votes in the Senate.  I suspect that there are a number of reasons for this.  But one reason that deserves mentioning is that Democrats believe in the importance of the federal government, and Republicans believe in the importance of thwarting Democrats.

Consider the following table, which illustrates the values to Democrats and Republicans when the Democrats are in majorities in Congress.

When Democrats control congress

keep government going

gridlock

Republicans 1 9
Democrats 9 1

The numbers are made up.  But the key element is that Republicans would rather see nothing done at all than seriously compromise with the Democrats to pass legislation.

On the other hand, consider the reverse situation in which Republicans are in charge.

When Republicans control Congress

keep government going gridlock
Republicans 7 3
Democrats 7 3

Here the Democrats really don’t want government to shut down, and they are willing to go far more than half way to meet the Republicans.  In this case, even the Republicans are willing to compromise a little.  For example, the Republicans were willing to greatly increase the National debt under Bush rather than having permanent gridlock so long as the wealthiest Americans could get a tax cut and Bush was able to start two wars; however, on other important issues such as having two ultra-conservative judges appointed to the Supreme Court, they stood by their principles and were even willing to get rid of filibusters.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, except perhaps that is sucks to be a Democrat.

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