Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Turning American Politics Into A Schelling Case

A lot of people are talking about how we are likely to have a better functioning government if we just let Romney win. The argument is that we can count on more obstructionism from Republicans in a divided government, and that it is unlikely Dems will win the House and Senate. So we should just let Romney win. This is weird, but also shameful. Not only will Obama's re-election matter for a number of reasons, but it turns American politics into a Schelling case. A Schelling case, named after economist Thomas Schelling, is a case of rational irrationality. For instance, if you are the only one who knows the code to the safe, it's rational to drink a poison which temporarily turns you into a mental invalid when thieves threaten to torture you if you don't open it. Though you will be irrational after ingesting the poison, it is rational to be irrational in that context. The argument seems to be that we should give in to the the GOP's attempt to be rationally irrational. But if the GOP loses election after election, it will have just been a bout of irrationality. In other words, it's up to us whether or not American politics turns into a Schelling case. Don't let it.


  1. On top of that, there is also more to federal government than just Congress. An Obama victory would allow Ginsburg and Breyer to safely retire and be replaced by liberal justices. The various federal departments (granted I don't know what kind of authority Congress has over their budgets and spending priorities) will be headed by moderate or liberal people and can fund projects that are more progressive, rather than just rolling back regulations and employing their buddies, as the Bush administration did.