Another Kind of Game Changer

Sometimes a "game changer" is someone who swaps game boards to keep winning.

Posted Dec 05, 2017

A “game changer” is, of course, an event, technology or cultural shift that changes the game being played. Science, for example, was a game changer. A person can be a game changer too: Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk, for example.

Then there are game changers as people who have the ability to change the game as suits them, in effect shapeshifters, not shifting their shape but the shape of the game board. If they start losing at one game, they know how to replace the game board to one on which they’re winning. To distinguish this kind of game-changing, I'll call these people "game shifters."

Cognitive psychology encourages game-shifting. If you feel defeated in your current game, change the game you think you’re playing. Game-shifting can be helpful. I’ve written about how it can help you maintain your mojo, and relax into serious play, rigorously careful yet creatively relaxed effort.

And game-shifting can be a problem. Rationalization that makes us feel like we’re winning when, in reality, we’re not, or helping when, in fact, we’re hurting.

Gaslighters, hypocrites, psychopaths, manipulators, seducers, and persuaders are master game-shifters. The object of their overarching game is to shuffle between game boards so they always seem like they’ve come out on top. They come out on top both by changing the board and by keeping others guessing what game is being played.

Gaslighters succeed by giving the impression that the object of the game is facing the real truth when that’s the last thing that interests them. A seducer gives the impression that he loves you when the real object of his game is a quick dip in your pants.

“Look at that village idiot! People keep offering him a choice between a quarter and a dime and laughing when he takes the dime. Hey psst, idiot, tell me, why do you keep doing that?”

“Don’t tell them but if I took the quarter, do you think they’d keep offering me dimes?”

For the village idiot, the game is collecting dimes. He keeps winning by giving the impression that he's losing an intelligence test.

Some believe that our national village is being run by idiots. My guess is that they’re master game-shifters. Their short game is game-shifting by any means necessary in the service of their long game, changing America’s most fundamental game.

The object of their real game is not a return to America’s former "we the people" greatness and certainly not providing help for the little guy.

The object of their long game is to remove the burden of what you could call “the basket of unemployables,” Romney’s 47 percent takers, the leeches, and freeloaders that the hard-working wealthy are carrying. The wealthy are what make the country great. They earned their money fair and square and should, by natural right be allowed to keep it.

For too long, the takers have hamstrung our economy. The rich are being forced to give their takings to the takers who don’t contribute to growth. It's bad for the country and it's bad for the takers who need to be sent to the school of hard knocks. The solution is clear. Eliminate the little man's voice.

In the game, our current leaders aim to overthrow, leaders had to do the people’s bidding even though many people are nothing but a burden, special interests dragging the country down, moochers who get weak-willed leaders to give them handouts by pickpocketing the wealthy.

Democracy is an impediment to capitalism and capitalism is the real name of the game. Time to undermine democracy in the name of economic liberty, a mission as urgent to them as helping the little guy, and restoring traditional Christian values is to the people who believe these leaders’ propaganda. Their shared sense of urgency is just what the leaders want because nothing justifies game-shifting like having a grand urgent overarching existential mission.

All’s fair in war. Illegal activities under normal circumstances become legal in war. That’s how it is with rules and objects of the game. To some extent, the rules of a game are designed to make the game a fair competition to achieve the object of the game and strategy is an attempt to win within the official rules of the game. But when the stakes get high enough, we’re willing to bend and break the rules. Any of us. You’d steal to save your child’s life.

Call my assessment a conspiracy theory if you like, but all the evidence points to it. In case you hadn’t noticed, there really are conspiracies in world history. I don’t want to just be a conspiracy theorist. I want to be a precise conspiracy theorist, spotting the real ones and dismissing the fake ones.

The evidence supporting my conspiracy theory is in leaders internal correspondence, well mined in Democracy in Chains, a new book by historian Nancy MacLean, worth reading so you can make your own assessment. I read it back-to-back with Scott Adam's admiring book on Trump's "weapons-grade persuasion," Win Bigly, a useful if disconcerting pairing. 

The history shows that our leaders made several attempts to change the game overtly, trying to sell people on what they euphemistically call “public choice.” The Goldwater campaign and Reagan presidency failed in our current leaders’ mission because they got cold feet and voters weren’t willing to change the national game.

So our current leaders have gone stealth. To win their game now, they pretend they’re playing a different game, a restoration of democracy, not its elimination.

Trump is a master of short-term game-shifting. No matter what he does he’s always winning the game by reframing it. Whenever he starts losing, he deftly slips the existing game board out from under his playing pieces, replacing it with a game board on which he can claim to be winning.

The majority sees through him but that doesn’t matter to the leadership’s long game. So long as he can keep enough red voters believing that he’s winning on their behalf, he, Congress and the public choice billionaire campaign donors will win their long game.

Though the old-guard masterminds (Kochs et al) were wary of Trump at first, the new-guard masterminds (Mercers et al) were behind him and largely responsible for his victory. The old and new guard are now behind him all the way. He’s the perfect cover for their plan to change the American game.

We call it hypocrisy, but that’s because we think we’re all playing the old “we the people” game. They’re playing different games and the Koch and Mercer’s long game.

But if your only goal is looking like a winner, being a game-shifter always is the way to go. At least until your hypocrisy catches up with you. It would for Trump if he didn’t have the backing of the most profitable political movement in the country’s history, billionaires who aim to remove the shackles of democracy, a campaign that pays for itself with bountiful returns.

We now have a master game-shifter as our president backed by a congress paid for by the most profitable game-shifter movement in the country’s history.

Now, that’s a game changer.


MacLean, Nancy (2017) Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. Melbourne, Australia: Scribe Publications

Adams, Scott (2017) Win Bigly: Persuasion in a world where facts don't matter. NYC, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc.