The Game of Politix

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Is there a way to reach a workable compromise between the four basic political divisions?

The Game of Politix

cover photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Three of my friends and I got together to play a game I had created, I called it poitix. We are a diverse group that had grown up in various parts of America and had moved to California during the nineteen-seventies. We are neighbors, and all of us are retired now. We are representative of the general political views of our country. John had been an engineer for a high-tech corporation and is a conservative. Judy had been a character actress in movies and television and is a liberal. Roberta had owned a small retail store and is a moderate.  I have had several careers, and I am a political Independent.

Politics is sort of a hobby for me. I first got involved with it when I was working in Phoenix in 1963 and volunteered at a Goldwater for President campaign office, stuffing envelopes. That campaign was lost the day President Kennedy died. It made me curious to try to find out what really determined the outcome of a presidential campaign. I am still trying to figure it out. That is what this gathering is about.

I used the Hobby Lark website to create my own version of the monopoly board with my own rules. The game simulates a Presidential campaign year, and whomever ends up with the most money at the end of the game wins the election.

I had half pitcher of Martinis (four-parts Beefeater gin to one-part dry Vermouth) left in the refrigerator. We had enjoyed our pregame reminiscing with the other half. The Eagles were on my Cd player, and we were ready to begin.

We started the game at “Enter Primaries” with $50 million each. After rolling the dice for the playing order it was me, John, Judy, and Roberta. I threw a seven and moved to “consultant’s fees” and paid the bank $5 million.

“Welcome to the Hotel California.”, the Eagles sang.

 John threw a six and landed on “advance to space 12”. That cost him $3 million for fees.

"It looks like everywhere you land it cost you something,” Judy said.

“We haven’t’ had that spirit here since nineteen-sixty-nine”

‘Campaigns aren’t cheap”, I replied, “The last one cost more than $14 billion. She frowned at me and threw the dice.

““Bring you alibis.”

She rolled an eight and got a donation of $8 million, which brought a smile to her face.

 Roberta threw a five and was impeached by Pelosi. She had to pay legal fees of $ 3 million.

“But they just can’t kill the beast”

“The expenses spaces exceed the contributions spaces,” John commented.

“In the last election the Democrats spent $50 million more then they raised, I replied.”

“This is not a fair game!”, Judy protested

I shrugged. I told her that nothing was fair about politics.

“You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

I got the pitcher out of the refrigerator and refilled everyone’s glass.

As the game progressed players landed on” Biden’s laptop-go to jail”,” advertising”- pay $266 million, “mail”- pay $100 million, “Payroll”- pay $82 million and “Fundraising”- pay $70 million. They grumbled about how unfair it was to pay all that money, then I explained that those were the actual amounts paid in the last election.  When they received $72 million from the “Democratic Action Fund”, $45 million from the” Republican action fund “or $50 million for “Advance to Enter Primaries” they believed that they were entitled to it.

It was a short game; I had designed it that way. Everyone ran out of money faster than it could be replaced, just like in an actual election. There was no skill involved in winning, it was just like a crap game. I intended it to start a discussion about politics in the real world. We moved into the living room and got comfortable. I retrieved what was left in the pitcher and topped off everyone’s glass, and then we sat down to talk about politics.

The political spectrum goes from left to moderate to right, with some extremes at both ends. None of us are extremists, but we are all confident in our political positions. The questions in my mind were, what made us that way and what do we have in common?  How is it possible to unite a country that is so politically divide? Is our future to be like that of Lebanon’s, where Christian and Moslem differences destroyed the once prosperous nation? Or can we find some common ground, enough to make it bearable for us to live together without the constant bickering.

Liberals and Conservatives have core beliefs. Liberals believe that you need the government to solve people's problems, Conservatives believe they can solve their own problems.  Voters used to be divided by age, sex, and economic situation. Now we are divided by the environment, health care, immigration, taxes, and welfare.  I was hoping to find some common political ground between the four of us.

I have read about psychological political testing and was curious to see how it applied to us. I explained that I knew what their political positions were and wasn’t going to try to change them. I just wanted to see how we fit the profiles they believed existed, that I would include myself in the conversations.  I volunteered to go first so that they would feel more at ease talking about themselves.

“My parents were immigrants in the 1920s. They were poor and struggled thru the depression. Eventually they made it into the middle class of that time. I served in the Marines and then went to college for two years under the G.I. bill. I worked as a hamburger flipper, a draftsman, a retail store manager, sold real estate, had a stockbroker’s license and was the main banker in a major casino. My working life was enabled by the free market system. I want clean air and water, but I don’t think we have to damage our economy and put people out of work to have them. I think everyone should have health care, but socialized medicine is not the way to do it. It is not necessary to bring the majority down to raise a minority up. I support legal immigration but bringing in millions of illegal immigrants to do manual labor and receive free benefits is contrary to what our countries’ core beliefs are. The same is true of socialism and the high taxes it requires.  More important than any of these issues is the purpose and strength of our military forces. I believe that it is to defend our country, not to change the governments of other countries. I am an Independent because I will vote for whichever candidate approximates my beliefs, I know that all of them will never be met, and I can accept that.”

John, the conservative, offered to go next.

“I come from a middle-class family also. My parents worked hard to save money to put me thru collage, but due to the unrealistic raises in tuition rates it only lasted a couple of years and I had to get a part time job and a loan to finish. I believe in personal responsibility and free markets. I believe that government should get out of the way and let people find their own way in life. I also believe in a strong military for defenses purposes only.”  That is why I vote for conservatives.”

Roberta, the moderate, explained her reasoning.

“I worked in retail for more than twenty years before I was able to start my own small business.  I risked my life savings to do it. I got a loan guaranteed by the small business administration to buy my inventory. There are some things the government does well, on a small scale. It’s when they start spending trillions of dollars that scares me. That always leads to inflation, which hurts everyone. The wholesale price of merchandise increases, the rents on stores increase, payroll expenses increase, and personal expenses increase, so the prices of things being sold by the merchant also must be increased. The last time that we had high inflation the government froze retail prices, which was disastrous for small businesses.  I think that government should help the needy, but not at the expense of people that work hard for a living. It is difficult for me to decide who to vote for, because the winner seldom does what he said he would do if he was elected.”

I could see that Judy, the liberal, was anxious to tell her story.

“My parents were well off, but not like the millionaires and billionaires we have today. I majored in ‘having fun’ in college, because there was no need for me to work when I graduated. I majored in theatrics. .  My parents were liberals, so I became one. I spent a few years working for liberal causes and then moved on. My father occasionally invested in a movie production, so he had some contacts in California. He gave me some names and made some phone calls, and I got a bit part in one of those movies. After that it was easy to get a small part here and there. I partied with the “B” list of actors and actresses. It was interesting until it got boring.  We all believed the same things, that government should achieve equal opportunity and equality for everyone, protect civil liberties and human rights, and guarantee that no one is left behind. It struck me as strange that most of them were pacifist, because the Democratic party had held the Presidency when we entered World War 1, World War 2, the Korean, and Vietnam wars. I don’t like wars, but sometimes they can’t be avoided.”

What it all boiled down to was this. Conservative priorities are self, family community and American citizens. Liberals question what government priorities should be, things that are unfair, things they are owed, what the country should do for them, how it offends them. Where is the common ground between them, I wondered, how can we get back to the place where we can live with and respect each other’s opinions? I thought that the environment was a good place to start. It affects everyone regardless of their political beliefs.

“We are all for protecting the environment,” I said, “our disagreement is on the degree of measures that should be taken at this time. I think that a well-designed seven-year program is preferable to a “crash” program that is created as we go along. Just throwing money at a problem does not solve it”

“We don’t have seven years” Judy said.” The ice caps are melting”

“Scientist from Sweden and Norway have examined the ice caps, and as you say, they are melting," I replied, "but they believe that if we take appropriate measures now, not extreme ones, we can resolve that problem.”

“What about the carbon problem?” John asked me.

“The only solution to that is more trees. We have to maintain our forests, clearing away dead growth that feeds fires that burn millions of acers worldwide every year. We also have to plant new trees wherever possible,” I answered.

I knew that healthcare was a major clashing point and didn’t think that there was any way of resolving it, but I wanted to hear their thoughts about it.

“What should we do about healthcare?” I asked.

Judy was the first to respond. “Healthcare is a basic human right, for the poor as well as the rich. The government must provide it for everyone.”

“Socialized medicine means that everyone, except for the wealthy, will get the same lousy healthcare,” John said.” The rich would be the only ones with good healthcare”

“We can’t afford to give everyone, including the millions of illegal immigrants now flooding into our country, free health care, “Roberta said. "The government should create a special program offering basic medical services for them and the poor and leave the rest of us alone.”

Everyone has strong opinions about taxes, and I stated mine first. ” High taxes on business discourage the creation of new small business, which create most of the new jobs every year. The large corporations raise prices and lower payrolls in order to pay them. Lower taxes motivate people to work and save money. That creates a strong economy.”

“I am tired of the government playing Robin Hood with my money”, John said. “He was a thief and so is the government. Why do I have to support people that are able to work but refuse to, happy to live on government’s ‘free’ goodies. I don’t begrudge people’s Social Security benefits, they paid for them in advance with their payroll taxes. Our government spent all of that money and gave us I.O.U’s for it, now our children’s taxes are paying for our benefits.”

“We have a moral obligation to feed to poor and the hungry,” Judy said. We have to provide them with shelter and a decent way of living.”

“Thousands of Americans have made the choice to be homeless or living in ‘homes on wheels", Roberta answered. "You see the homeless living on the streets of all of our large cities, camped in front of stores with signs offering employment. If they aren’ t willing to work, I’m not willing to support them. The people living in their cars, trucks and campers and traveling to find work, have my respect. They have given up our unending pursuit of ‘things’ for a more practical way of life. They travel the country to go where the jobs are, they create new communities and friends. I would like to see some of my taxes spent on supporting their needs, free camp sites with free utilities.”

It was late in the evening, and time to wind things up. There were no right or wrong, good, or bad opinions. They were based on people’s life experiences, what had worked for them and what did not. Why couldn’t the politicians see that? Why must they make everything a “good” versus “bad” issue. Why must they “divide and conquer”? Why are they so power hungry and edger to control us?

We desperately need a President that can unify us, not just talk about it, another President Regan. I cannot think of anyone who fits that description. We only have career politicians, people who have gamed the political system of this country all their lives. Where are the patriots?

 

 


Submitted: October 14, 2021

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Jack's Place

Colorful photos Illustrate every original short story, essay, and satire. The essays are based upon life experiences, personal and political. The satire is mostly political. The combined effect of these writings is a picture of life in the United States.

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