From Candy Land to Candy Crush, people love to play games. (Except for my husband, but that’s a story for another time.) In my family, we played games as a holiday tradition—something for everyone to do while the turkey was baking. Family anecdotes (“Remember when we were playing Hearts and…”) are born around the game table.
And, when people aren’t playing games themselves, they are watching other people playing games. Other family traditions spring up around watching football games, going to football games, buying football paraphernalia. (You can tell I’ve lived in Texas most of my life, can’t you?) Folks watch other folks play golf, play tennis, play poker. We love games.
Game language is embedded in our idiom. If you “hit me again” too many times, I’ll be “played out.” Some people are “all in”—some people are “fourflushers.” Sometimes you “fumble the ball”—sometimes you need a “Hail Mary” to recover. Some folks play for the pleasure or the competition or just to pass the time. Others prefer to play for money to keep it interesting.
But the highest stakes game of them all is American Presidential Politics, where the winner doesn’t hit a jackpot or get a trophy. Instead the winner becomes THE most powerful person on Planet Earth. It’s not omnipotent power, but it’s pretty big.
In any normal general election debate, candidates referring to each other as a “nasty woman” or a “puppet” would be the big news. Even calling some immigrants “bad hombres” (do you think he meant Mexicans?) would be a major gaffe. But not here in Bizarro World. The headline out of the third, and mercifully last, debate is Donald Trump refusing to commit (for what that’s worth) to accept the November 8 election results. The pundits’ heads exploded.
As they said, this is an obvious attack on the very foundation of American Democracy—the peaceful transfer of power. Do you think this is Trump making some kind of political misstep, “fumbling the ball” as it were? Or is this Trump “tipping his hand” because the threat of post-election chaos is part of the strategy of his campaign CEO Steve Bannon—a self-described Leninist who has said he wants to “bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment”? Funny how folks, from the Duc d’Orleans to Lenin himself envision replacing what they see as a corrupt establishment with one more to their liking—with themselves at the helm. At least that’s how it works in the movies.
But whatever is going on in the alt world of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton seems to have it “in the bag” to be the next POTUS. When looking at the Electoral College (and that’s all you should be looking at), Hillary seems to have “all the chips”—or at least a big majority of them. And remember—no one ever liked that little boy who threw the Monopoly board off the table or chucked a deck of cards in the air when the game didn’t go his way.
We still expect the person who loses the game to “jump the net”—not the shark—and congratulate the winner. Because not doing so is what makes one a real loser. Bigly.