The Evolution of Trust: Game Theory and Politics

Is politics governed by rules of trust? Cooperate and the other side is likely to cooperate in the future. Cheat, and there may be repercussions… or not. If everyone cooperates, we all do better. But cheat, and you may do better…

Welcome to Game Theory. It can explain help economics, politics, poker, and life in general. It is a study of the strategies we apply when making decisions that involve others, and I love Game Theory!

As a kid, I loved strategy games like Risk®, Stratego®, and chess. (Yes, I joined the chess team in high school after being hit by the pitching machine at baseball tryouts and was then president of the chess club for three years. Yep, I’m a geek.) Later, strategy games like poker caught my attention, and my wife, Tanya, and I have had more than a little success at the tables.

The Evolution of Trust game is a fascinating look at how decisions are made and how those decisions influence the next decision, and it is stunning how it relates to the political strategy changes we have seen over the past ten to twenty years.

As a simple example, Senator Mitch McConnell is a brilliant strategist, and his strategy is remarkably simple. He does, at any time, what is best for him. Period. He is Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, and we know exactly what he is going to do – he is going to pull the football away at the last moment… every time. The challenge though, is he thinks a step ahead, and so sometimes, his move appears to be cooperative, and it may well be because that may be his most beneficial move… until it is time to change. Ironically, hypocrisy, for example, is a smart political strategy, based on Game Theory.

So, take some time, and play the game. Learn about why a strategy of cooperation is beneficial, or why tit-for-tat may be the best individual strategy to play… or not.

My goal, with every decision of this campaign, as well as every policy proposal, is to think a step or two deeper – to anticipate the problems and challenges we will face and to help head them off before they arrive. That is the true job of a legislator – to forecast and prepare for the future with new, creative, and cooperative ideas. I look forward to doing that together to make all our lives easier.

Learn More: https://ncase.me/trust/