Guest Post: Ken Green on Applying Game Theory to Politics

Ken Green takes up the old moral instruction “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but in fact game theory suggests that a strict tit-for-tat response actually leads to optimal outcomes eventually. Rather than walk through the headache-inducing and opaque equations and symbols of game theory, he simply ponders why treating the left with their own medicine is more likely to make them discover game theory for themselves:

So, I was talking to the wife about the tale of AOC, her callipygous attributes, and her recent experience with public harassment, and I opined that, well, I could see some virtue in her having to experience the kind of harassment that she’s advocated for applying to others in public office. In fact, I even expressed the thought that more of the people who advocate for such harassment should probably get a taste of it themselves, by way of helping them to understand why it’s not a good thing.

Well, as expected from prior conversations, the wife (who unlike me, was not raised in a barn) invoked the cardinal rule, saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Well, that told me, so, I moved on…

But then the other day, cruising my usual haunts on the internet, I saw that right here in my very-temporary (and probably getting more temporary each time I open my mouth) guest digs, John Hinderaker says the same thing, and adds the second clause of the “two-wrongs” axiom, a “we conservatives should not be dragged down to the Democrats’ level” overlay.” I’m not sure, but I think this implies that it is somehow degrading to oneself to both recognize, and then adopt a tactic that one’s assailant thinks is appropriate, a sort of “turn the other cheek” thing. But then, what do I know about that, I’m Jewish. I was always taught that if you turn the other cheek after someone slaps you, you’ll just get slapped on the other cheek.

Anyway, on top of all that, AOC says, “I don’t feel safe,” (despite having access to an ultra-secure, underground parking and subway system that would take her anywhere in the capital complex she wanted to be in total comfort and safety, should she choose to actually use it.)

And Knight-in-Tarnished-Armor Bill O’Reilly Tweets “there oughta be a law!” (Kinda selective timing in all sorts of ways there, Bill).

So, here is my Devil’s Advocate argument: I would contend that we actually have a moral obligation to respond to things that are destructive of the social order (as the whole Mad Maxine “Get in their Face” mentality of public protest is), and even more, we have an obligation to respond to those things effectively and educationally: teaching those engaging in destructive behavior why that behavior is wrong. And what better way to do it than to essentially treat people as they are treating others, so that they can come to understand why it is bad?

Instead, the right has “tut-tutted” at this stuff for my entire life, with no seeming effect, strutting around chanting “Marquis of Queensberry,” like lads from a scene in The Quiet Man. (Had to get that in here…favorite movie…) If anything, the harassment of the left has become more intense, harmful, omnipresent, and destructive of the social order.

And there’s another thing. As for “two wrongs make a right,” doing this would not be a “wrong,” by AOC’s own standard. In fact, it would a “right” thing to do. When a person, as AOC did, asserts the rightness of taking a certain pain-inflicting action on others, she is declaring that she believes this is legitimate moral action. By implication, therefore, she’s saying that she, personally, accepts that having others do the same to her would be equally moral acts.

That’s not to say that I think we should be establishing bounty funds to track the whereabouts of every public official we don’t like, and dispatch hooligans to hassle them (as the left seems to have done with Justice Kavanaugh) – that can only lead to negative consequences, including the likely reality that the political class will respond to incentives and isolate themselves even further from normal public interaction, rendering them even more out of touch with the values and norms of the population they govern.

So what is it, PowerLiners? Is it “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” or “don’t sink to their level”—or is it more a matter of “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?” And, about gandering… I have to say, it’s hard to feel sympathy for AOC on the derriere front (back? whatever). Let’s not forget that she did choose to turn that real estate into a billboard reading “Eat the Rich” at a Met Gala. So, It’s a bit late to be saying, “my tush is off-limits” isn’t it?

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.