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Election Integrity and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

How Can We Build Integrity Into American Elections?

By Richard Allen – August 28, 2023

Many years ago in a college class on Negotiation, my professor, a very smart gal named Diane, conducted a whole class activity, which I now realize was a variation of “The Prisoner’s Dilemma.” Little did I know, but the learning I took from that class stayed with me all these years. Let me ask my readers to stay with me as I apply that life lesson to the current election cheating by the Democrat Party. I don’t think it’s too severe to say, but if America doesn’t put integrity and trust back into our Electoral processes, our country (as we know it) will not survive.

Aptly named, the Prisoner’s Dilemma is a concept in “game theory” that Britanica online describes:

“Prisoner’s Dilemma (is an) imaginary situation employed in game theory. One version is as follows: Two prisoners are accused of a crime. If one confesses and the other does not, the one who confesses will be released immediately and the other will spend 20 years in prison. If neither one confesses, each will be held only a few months. If both confess, they will each be jailed 15 years. They cannot communicate with one another. Given that neither prisoner knows whether the other has confessed, it is in the self-interest of each to confess himself. Paradoxically, when each prisoner pursues his self-interest, both end up worse off than they would have been, had they acted otherwise.”

I remember that class very well, mostly because I made a fool of myself. In our class of 16, we didn’t use the “you’ve committed a crime scenario” referenced above, rather, we were asked to Negotiate a Proposition: Whether students should be allowed to work together collaboratively in public schools, and share the same grades. Diane, our professor explained there were strong opinions for and against this type of cooperative learning. People of Asian heritage often worked collaboratively and shared in the results of their work, whereas people from Western cultures didn’t think it was fair. Opponents to collaborative learning believed that Individual effort needed to be rewarded. The Rules: We would negotiate ten rounds of voting and try to come to an agreement as a class on this issue. Those voting Yes were in favor of collaborative learning and those voting No were against it. Here’s how she described the scoring for the exercise: A.) We all had to vote Yes or No for each of ten rounds. B.) For each round of voting where ALL STUDENTS VOTED YES, each student would receive 10 points. C.) IF some voted Yes and some voted No in any given round, students who voted Yes received 0 points, and the students who voted No would still receive 10 points. D.) In rounds where everyone voted No, then everyone subtracted 10 points from their scores. If this seems strange, be aware that the scoring was “skewed” to favor those who acted in “Self-Interest because that’s how this real fallen world behaves.

Thinking myself to be principled and reasoned, I immediately saw the wisdom for us all to agree as a class and vote Yes to the collaborative learning proposition. Don’t get me wrong, personally, I did not agree with the Asian model of collaborative learning. My sole reason for wanting everyone to vote Yes was purely based on wanting our whole class to WIN! But as the exercise proceeded, I started to realize: People USUALLY ACT IN THEIR OWN SELF INTEREST. In the first few rounds I voted Yes, as did most of the class. Those of us who voted Yes received “0” points, while the rest of the class who voted No were steadily gaining points. Early on, many students realized that “because Rich is so strongly opinionated, our votingNo is a guarantee that we’ll earn points. There was almost no downside. So, after a few additional mixed rounds, almost everyone in class flipped and voted No. I made impassioned pleas, making my best case for how we COULD ALL WIN! But “Self-Interest” won out for the whole 10 Rounds.

Though I was in my late 30’s, I had a lot to learn about people. We were not allowed to ask how others voted, as voting was done by secret ballot. Both sides continued to negotiate and make speeches between rounds, making the case for voting Yes or voting No. After 10 rounds, I was proudly the lone holdout, still voting Yes in all 10 rounds and the only student to receive “0” points. After the game was over, our teacher took time to do a debrief of the exercise. She actually complimented me on my impassioned speeches, agreeing with me that voting Yes was the best response and would have allowed EVERYONE TO WIN – regardless of how we felt about the proposition! Note: It was not lost on any of us that the actual exercise mimicked the “collaborative approach to learning” proposition that we were debating.

In the debrief Diane asked me a question that revealed my stubborn, inflexible thinking. And she made it clear that what I thought to be “principled resolve” might cause me to fail in real world scenarios. She asked: “Rich, were you aware that part of the class was committed to acting in their own self-interest by Voting No, regardless of whether the Class had success in the exercise?” To which I answered: Absolutely. She then asked me a tougher question I hadn’t considered: “WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE TO GET THEM TO VOTE YES WITH YOU?” Not thinking, I answered: “I did it, I made impassioned pleas, asking them to vote Yes with me so the whole class could win. Unmoved, Diane smiled and probed further: “But what else might you have done? There was something that was staring you in the face, that could have brought those ‘non-enlightened and uncollaborative class members’ back to the negotiating table? All I could do was just sit there, dumfounded. Then one of my classmates, a younger gal kindly spoke up: “Rich, you should have started Voting No like everyone else.” To which I responded: “Then we would all have lost all our points AND NO ONE WOULD WIN ANYTHING!” With a big smile, Diane our professor said, “EXACTLY!”

I made the mistake thinking that “I alone had figured out the exercise, and there was only one way to act on principle.” But that wasn’t correct. I was confusing what I thought to be the best approach for the exercise with a moral crusade. As mentioned earlier, I didn’t really believe in collaborative learning for a variety of reasons. History teaches that most innovative discoveries have come from cultures where they rewarded “individual behavior.” BUT I did see the wisdom in us all cooperating and voting Yes for the exercise – SO THAT THE WHOLE CLASS WOULD WIN! Had I been more experienced in life, I would have known there was another way to get the No voters to come over to the Yes side. I NEEDED TO VOTE “NO” FOR SEVERAL ROUNDS TO CHANGE THEIR APPROACH TO SELF-INTEREST!

You might be asking: “What does this have to do with Election Integrity and Democrat Cheating?” Actually, it has a lot to do with both. Many of our Republican friends are caught in an “integrity time warp” where they still want to pretend that it’s 1940, and we count paper ballots for “same day voting.” Sadly, it’s not. And the Democrats have “honed massive cheating” into an artform. Besides using the U.S. Postal Service to keep track of those who received a ballot by mail and failed to return it (they then provide those names and addresses to Democratic Party operatives). Then Voilà, a ballot appears a few days later – always for a Democrat. My favorite trick, after the machine votes are all done and the Dems know how many votes they need to win, Voilà, some poll worker finds a box or two in a trunk that didn’t get counted – usually days or weeks later. We’ve witnessed Dems stuffing Post Office Boxes in the late hours of the night – often the same person traveling around a precinct from mailbox to mailbox, with none of these ballots having any chain of custody, they just appear. The Dinesh D’Souza movie, “2,000 Mules” completely documents the massive cheating conducted in the 2020 election. But possibly the most blatant act of cheating was: Stopping all vote counting in seven states, then electronically changing the count so that Joe Biden came from behind and went on to win!

So what are we to do about it? Since Government Officials in Democrat districts will not and have never indicted the Dems for rampant cheating, we can’t depend on the “Law” to make things right. Our own Department of Justice, which under Merrick Garland should be renamed the DOI – the Department of Injustice, turns a blind eye to Democrat malfeasance. If you grasped what I was saying in the first half of this blog, you would realize that as of today: THERE IS NO INCENTIVE FOR THE DEMOCRATS TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY! The “principled” Republicans will complain, but little more. They get to cheat with impunity, and are consistently rewarded by winning close elections and keeping their “crooked-deep-state-cronies” in power. Just like the exercise I did in class, until we start voting “NO and take away their incentive to cheat, they won’t stop. I’m not openly advocating that we cheat, but remember, they claim that everything they are doing is on the “up and up” and our own government officials have certified all their shenanigans as “totally above board,” so I say: WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE, IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER!

Right about now, my brothers and sisters in Christ are saying: “No way, two wrongs don’t make a right. We can’t behave like they do, what they are doing is wrong and a violation of the law!” My response is: In the Kingdom we need to shine forth like the Children of Our God and Father. In the affairs of men, things are not as clear cut. And we do need to distinguish between the two spheres of influence: God and Man. Jesus confronted just such a dilemma during his ministry. In fact, the Pharisees who were religious leaders of Jesus’ day, saw this dilemma and thought they could make Jesus stumble. They tried to have Jesus say something that would get Him in trouble, either with the Jewish leaders or the Romans. The Jewish people in Jesus’ day normally used the Roman Denari to conduct business, because that was the currency of the realm. Here’s Jesus’ teaching on how we are to conduct ourselves regarding God and man:

“Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?’ Jesus seeing their trap answered them with His own question: ‘Shew me the tribute money.’ And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, ‘Whose is this image and superscription?’ They say unto him, ‘Caesar's.’ Then saith he unto them, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's’ “ (Matthew 22:17-21).

Again, my point is not to muddy the waters or advocate an “anything goes” mentality regarding moral issues. But the voting rules of men are just that, the rules of men.

Sometimes they reflect God’s truth, other times they don’t. There is another way to change the current system of: “one side gets to cheat and win, and the other side has to be squeaky clean.” And until our “cowardly Republican legislators” require that EVERYONE PLAY BY THE SAME RULES – WE ARE REWARDING THOSE CORRUPT CANDIDATES WHO ONLY ACT ON SELF-INTEREST! Let’s play by their rules for a few Election Cycles and see what they say. Maybe they’ll complain after Poll Workers in Republican Districts find boxes of uncounted votes (which are 99% for Republican Candidates). Won’t it be fun to hear them say: “But you have no signature verification, nor chain of custody.” And we can say, Yes. Just like you always do, so it must be okay! In the realm of fallen men, there is only one way to bring them back to the negotiating table, “Vote NO!”

Soli Deo Gloria!

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