I’m the designer (as regular readers know) of the political strategy game Democracy 3. Its promoted as a ‘political strategy game’, but its not a direct simulation of modern politics, and that, I believe is its strength. Its also very popular worth young people, whereas annoyingly modern politics is not, and that tells a very depressing story.

I’ve been following (from here in the UK) the current US election campaign in all its depressing, worrying, and car-crash-style horror. What I see is nothing to do with politics at all. Nothing. It has way more in common with celebrity gossip and reality TV than it has to do with politics. Let me describe to you what I consider politics to be, just so we are on the same page.

Essentially politics is an argument on two spectrums, Capitalist v Socialist and Conservative v Liberal. The Capitalist v Socialist argument is one of how to arrange an economic model in terms of allocating a societies collective resources, and the extent to which resources & money can be seized from one individual and allocated to another. There are some moral issues bound up in this (Ayn Rand equated capitalism with freedom and there is the counter argument of the basic right to freedom from poverty), but also some simply technical ones, such as ‘how high can we set top tax rates before the tax yield declines?’ or the opposite of ‘how high can social benefits be before we destroy the work incentive’. The Liberal v Conservative argument is basically one of social norms and individual freedoms. Am I free to do whatever I want with my own body, including abortions, same-sex relationships and consumption of drugs? or should society prevent me from such actions? Sometimes the conservative argument gets wrapped up in religious argument, but not always.

randandmarx

There are outliers. I am a capitalist green, something people generally consider an oxymoron, because they equate fighting climate change with state spending, which is bullshit. Regulations on CO2 emissions achieve the same result without the government spending a penny. Anyway…enough of the specific issues. What I am saying is that politics is ‘that kind of stuff’.

What politics is NOT, is the style of a candidates hair, or whether they are faithful to their partner, or if they have children or not, and what those children look like, what grades they got, the size of the candidates hands (and other body parts), a candidates accent, their favorite music, which school they went to, whether or not they can eat a bacon sandwich or if they wear a particular style of tie.

And yet this bullshit is what modern politics has become. I think its a symptom of the idiocracy we live in. if you ask people whether or not a 45p vs 50p tax rate is likely to bring in more government revenue, they will give you a blank look, or regurgitate the last thing they heard a friend say about it. If you ask them if Donald trumps hair is stupid or if Ed Milliband looks normal, they will be full of opinions. They put politics in the same box as ‘dumb shit about celebrities’.

I despise this.

bullingdontrump

Things are so bad, I honestly favor some sort of minimum awareness testing on the part of voters to qualify to place a vote. What is Trump’s Tax Policy? What is Hilary’s? if you cant even pick them from a line-up why the fuck are you voting? Far too many people vote based on celebrity bullshit, fabricated stories, silliness about hair styles and superficial bullshit. Simply put, those people are not mentally equipped to vote.

Personally, I think Trump is dangerous. I think this because he has no policies. The only policy he has stuck to is his plan to get Mexico to build a wall for him. I want a new garage and demanded that my neighbor build it for me, but they were strangely reluctant. What will trump do if Mexico refuses to pay? bomb them?

You cannot vote for a candidate with no policies. Thats basically just saying ‘do what you like dude’. People should be angry that trump has proven to be extremely racist, sexist and inciting violence, but they should also ask him what the fuck he would do if he was president. There should be policy documents, detailed ones that people can scrutinize themselves.

policy

And this brings me back to my title. Democracy 3 simulates voters who vote purely on the basis of policies and facts. The socialists will vote for you if you provide greater public services and tax the wealthy. They will not vote for you because you have cool hair or can play the saxophone. Democracy 3 is my dream of what politics should, and could be. A sensible, intelligent and above all, an informed debate. We do not have that any more, least of all in the USA. For that reason we should be very, very afraid.

6 Responses to “Democracy 3 represents an ideal, sadly not the reality of politics.”

  1. Oli Norwell says:

    The description of politics at the beginning is superb, in fact I don’t believe it’s possible to write a better 3 paragraphs explaining what it ought to be.

    But then, ironically (and actually comically) you fall into the exact same trap as the people you are trying to criticise.

    “Things are so bad, I honestly favor some sort of minimum awareness testing on the part of voters to qualify to place a vote. What is Trump’s Tax Policy?”

    Then you proceed to criticise him heavily, simply due to the fact that you yourself have totally failed to educate yourself on Trump’s tax policy! *One* simple Google search for ‘Trump Tax Policy’ comes out with a link to his website, and his tax policy: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/tax-reform

    What more do you want him to do?

    Perhaps write a book? Oh, he has! http://www.amazon.com/Crippled-America-Make-Great-Again/dp/1501137964 – fully explaining the policies that he would put into place should he become president.

    By all means criticise Trump’s policies, but you are no better than those you wrote to attack when you claim “I think Trump is dangerous. I think this because he has no policies”.

    • cliffski says:

      A completely fair point,l and thanks for the links. Sadly I never see any coverage of this AT ALl, and although that may be the medias fault, its also true that trump is very quick (and I am by no meanms just picking on trump, a lot of politicians are just as bad) to get drawn into discussion about his wife, the other guys wife, the size of his hands…

      In my view, Trump should deflect away an non-policy debate as irrelevant, and purely discuss policies. Not soundbytes, but details. He wants to cut the US top tax rate to 25%, thats perfectly clear from his website, and he needs to say that, and say why he believes its a the best policy again and again and again.

      • Oli Norwell says:

        Yes, totally agree. I think the point you were trying to make was that it’s terrifying that Trump is winning the race for the nomination without needing to actually talk about policy.

        For that we should blame the average person who has no interest in policy, just virtue signalling and following whatever is the latest ‘meme trend’. Fully agree that people should probably need a minimum level of knowledge before voting. Otherwise we end up with popularist movements that know they don’t need policies, just popular support garnered from attacking a misrepresented enemy.

        However, arguably a bigger portion of the blame needs to go to the mainstream media, who are still in a strong enough position to lead popular thought patterns. Society has been brought up to trust the mainstream media. Which has sadly now turned into a crusade to create as much clickbait as possible by following the latest SJW obsession. E.g. ‘Trump is racist/sexist/new Hitler’ leads to The Guardian producing literally dozens of click-bait articles trying to destroy him in whatever way possible.

        20 years ago The Guardian would have written about how Trump is clearly a centrist, and that his promise to protect the welfare state is something to rejoice.

        Sadly we don’t live in that world anymore. I dread to think where it is all leading. Keep up the great work with the blog.

        • Steven says:

          Sometimes, having people who care nothing about policy is exactly what you need because those are the people who have been marginalized and feel left out. But then I guess all that means is that countries need to continue working on developing stronger democracies so that people will want to inform themselves and turn out in large numbers to vote. People need a reason to care about all the stuff you guys are getting frustrated about.

      • Steven says:

        I’m a Democrat and I’m having a tough time figuring out who I’ll vote for when the primaries hit in Kentucky on May 17. I guess politics just shows us that nobody and no policy is perfect.

  2. James Temple says:

    I’m currently reading a biography of Henry Clay (Henry Clay: The Essential American by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heider) and folks may be relieved, or saddened, to hear that from readings in that and other books I find that nothing has really changed in American politics. Political people are just as mean, self-centered and childish now as they were back then. Maybe it’s the nature of the beast.