The Rules of Real World Games & the RNC

There is a debate underway in the Republican Party (the RNC) on the rules governing the primary elections and caucuses and their translation of their results into delegates to the party’s convention.

One side argues that the rules are unfair, in that the popular vote is not being mapped proportionately into the delegate selection process, which is biased in favor of one or another candidate. The other side argues that the rules were set months ago, and that everyone knew the rules of the game, so criticizing the rules is simply a reflection of candidates not being prepared to compete under the existing rules.

So many pundits and party officials seem to buy into the ‘rules were set and known’ camp, that I must protest. Come on.

Think about our economy. Imagine someone arguing that income inequalities are unfair, and others arguing that everyone knew the rules of the game since they could read, so you shouldn’t whine about the outcome. The poor might not have known the rules, or were not prepared to compete under the rules, but maybe the rules advantage the more well to do. Whatever the reason, this camp argues that we can’t question, much less change the rules.

Well, in the real world, as opposed to games for entertainment, we do change the rules of the game. This is a basic difference between the real world and play. And in play, if the rules of the game are unfair, people stop playing the game. In the real world, people assess the outcomes of rules, and adjust them overtime to ensure they are fair.

In politics, in contrast to our economic system, the rules are always as much at issue as are the plays and strategies of the players. In fact, in politics, the most effective strategies are to change the rules of the game.

So it is ridiculous to argue that it is not acceptable to challenge the fairness or democratic quality of the rules underpinning delegate selection or any other set of rules governing elections. The GOP within particular states should defend their rules, and explain why they are fair. To say they are not open to contention is a way to avoid the charge. Just because the rules have been set does not mean they are inherently fair.

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