Playing the Game

If you grew up with siblings, you remember those times where you would pass the time with your brothers or sisters by playing games; card games, board games, all sorts of adolescent entertainment. I remember playing monopoly and how that would always end, usually, with someone dragging their hand over the board, thus summarily ending the game with a fit of rage.

As a child, games were something that you did and enjoyed because they were governed by rules, rules widely understood and rules widely accepted by those who joined with you in the game. Winning or losing, at that age, was important. It was part of the fun of the game. It’s why you played. But, so long as everyone followed the rules, coming up short didn’t seem to be so painful to accept. The other guy was just more skillful or lucky. No matter what ….we’ll get ’em next time.

But another thing I plainly remember as a child are those who initially say they will play by the rules but then, later on, without any predetermined declaration, they are found not to be observing the rules. And that was intolerable in an adolescent world. It’s funny just how quickly young boys will police their own world when infractions are plainly seen. And the most prominent outcome of being discovered as a ‘cheater’ is that no one, I mean NO ONE, would engage in any games with you anymore. Such were the consequences in an adolescent world.

And, to a certain degree, this same self-policing concept is carried over to the adult world as well. There have been several times in our past where we once celebrated the winning accomplishments of those in the sports world, only to remove them from playing the game later on. For instance, there was the world famous biker who was stripped of his metals for steroid use. Even in the adult world, there is no place for cheaters.

In one way, that is why the gaming industry is so successful. A person would have to live a million lifetimes to ever come close to having those five magical numbers and yet they still play. Why? Because someone has to win. That’s the game and those are the rules. Everyone follows the very same identical rules of chance but some one has to win.

No one wants to engage in anything in life where the other guy has some unfair, predetermined advantage. Very few participate in anything where the outcome is already predetermined, already established, already known.

That is exactly what makes this last election so troubling and somewhat of a death toll for every election hereafter. People expect two things when they engage in the ‘election game’. They rightly expect that the rules be followed and that, when it is discovered that they are not, the wrongs will be made right.

The tragedy of this last election cycle is not that there was fraud. It’s not that there was cheating. There has been some degree of cheating in elections since the beginning of time itself. And, it’s not that there was systemic fraud, fraud in such a level that, if sustained and actioned, would have overturned the outcome of this last presidential race. No, the tragedy lies in that second expectation, the expectation that wrongs be made right.

The ultimate tragedy of this election, in light of such detailed, extensive and comprehensive display of testimony and evidentiary materials, will be the willful and intentional dismissiveness of even giving any of it a passing cursory inquiry. Refusal to attend to this second expectation makes the first meaningless and void.

And so, the long lasting effect on those people consenting to be governed, who have played the game, assuming all others were following the rules, and later have observed others who have not, and now, can’t even get a simple, honest and fair inquiry into that alleged rule breaking, let alone their right expectations that wrongs be made right, will be to simply not play the game anymore.

We’ve seen this already in the once Soviet Bloc nations as well as the once Soviet Republic itself. There was the mirage of a ‘fair game’. They were encouraged to play. And they did, to some degree, only to find out that the game was rigged, the outcome was predetermined, and their involvement in the game means nothing. I offer to you Venezuela as the modern day example of that.

They went from playing the game, to eventually refusing to play no longer. And, when the ruling party found out that they no longer would play the game, they didn’t correct their infractious behavior. They didn’t repent and conform to now play the game right. For several of those countries, wanting to avoid the embarrassment of such a low voter turn out, they simply ORDERED the people, by penalty of the law, to now play again….by their new rules, of course.

You may call it an abandonment of civil responsibility. You might characterize it as ‘taking your ball and going home‘. But the natural and eventual outcome, the democracy-affecting long term detrimental consequence of this election is that people simply will no longer participate in the game.

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