Play the Game (Everybody Play the Game)

Politics is a game. Politics is a game where cheating is allowed, where playing dumb is okay, where just about anything goes as long as you don’t get caught. But getting caught doesn’t mean it’s game over. You maybe get put into a penalty box, or you may lose a few turns, but you can continue playing later on, and, while your past indiscretions may be brought up again in the future, you have a chance of dismissing them under the pretense of personal growth. Or, again, you can just play dumb (I am against the candidacy of Joe Biden). Convenience determines which political moves will be played; when combined with short-term memory, a political player is allowed to call out another player for the same thing one did not that long ago. More on this point later.

Since short-term memory is employed when convenient, politics is also a cyclical game. Think of the Mueller report: Democrats turned a deeper blue holding their breath in anticipation over the special counsel’s conclusions. When Mueller’s report, or rather Barr’s SparkNotes of Mueller’s report came out, it laid the matter of collusion to rest, for a whole two seconds. Of course Democrats were not going to accept the summary of something they couldn’t verify. The whole point of collusion is that forces are working together to achieve a desired result. In this case, Democrats suspect, the forces involved are trying to protect the Trump presidency (I don’t know how Attorney General Barr benefits from the Russians by protecting Trump, but that’s beside the point). Democrats wanted a seal-tight legal justification for why impeachment was not only lawful, but also moral—contingent on them, and them alone, to restore American democracy and the trust of the American people in our hallowed institutions.

Democrats couldn’t win the legal battle, so instead they’re waging a political one. This is fine because they’re just another player in a political game. For an observer such as myself, who has turned to watching the news purely for entertainment, I watched the Republicans’ reaction to the Mueller Report with the same dropped jaw they must have had when Hillary Clinton, despite investigation after investigation, came out free every time. What did the Republicans say? Something akin to:

“There you have it! The matter is finally over, the verdict is in, and the case is closed! There was no collusion and Democrats should move on and allow the wounds of the nation to heal.”

Ha, said I, remembering the over a dozen investigations into Hillary Clinton over Benghazi, over her emails, you name it. Republicans didn’t give it a rest then, I don’t see why Democrats should give it a rest now. We aim high, Michelle Obama said in the run-up to the election. That’s all well and good, but if it wasn’t for Republicans constantly, incessantly, unendingly yelling fire in the form of accusations slung against Hillary, she actually might have taken the presidency. Republicans waged that battle for years; and, if the election was the war, you bet they won it.

So politics is a dirty game. But can it still be played in the same way? Yes, especially since each side has more than enough ammunition to protect their flanks. For Democrats, they have Trump and Republicans’ continued support of him. Every time he discredits journalism, every time he doesn’t strongly and instantly condemn acts of violence, I mean, every day gives Democrats a reason to ask Republicans why they stay silent or don’t push back against Trump’s comments. And for Republicans? They should work to keep collusion in the headlines, but they should, in their special way, pivot the word back to the Democratic National Committee, as that was indeed active collusion during the 2016 election. Through years of shrill investigations, they managed to discredit Hillary’s years of political experience. Through tireless repetition, Republicans now seek to discredit every Democratic candidate on the field by yelling “Socialism!” until the word is permanently associated with Venezuela, Stalin, and cabbage. By harkening back to the 2016 election, Republicans will constantly remind their audience that Democrats cannot be trusted—they can’t even trust their own candidates!

As morality comes more and more into the picture, what was previously “just politics” is now increasingly being called out for what it’s always been: hypocrisy. The problem with that is that, in a time when current events are never off the spotlight, and in a time when American’s approval of Congress is at 26%, the two sides may well destroy each other—and potentially more—if they don’t behave themselves, or start acting like adults. Unfortunately for all of us, the number of children playing at politics outnumbers the number of adults. All we can do is watch from the sidelines, dumbstruck.

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