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Barney Frank Defends Political Hypocrisy, Game Theory Explains It

HughPickens.com writes with a link to Steven I. Weiss’s Atlantic article which says game theory can shed light both on what is happening in Washington and on how the bargaining power of its negotiating parties may evolve over time and comes to the conclusion that hypocrisy is essential to the functioning of Congress — in fact, it’s the only tool legislators have after they’ve rooted out real corruption. “Legislators do not pay each other for votes, and every member of a parliament in a democratic society is legally equal to every member,” writes Congressman Barney Frank in his new memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics From the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. For legislators, cooperation is a form of political currency. They act in concert with other legislators, even at the expense of their own beliefs, in order to bank capital or settle accounts.” Game theory sets out conditions under which negotiating parties end up cooperating, and why they sometimes fail to do so. It does so based on analyzing what drives individuals in the majority of bargaining situations: incentives, access to information, initial power conditions, the extent of mutual trust, and accountability enforcement. Instead of seeing political flip-flopping as a necessary evil, Frank suggests it is inherent to democracy and according to Frank if there’s any blame to be doled out in connection with political hypocrisy, it’s to be placed on the heads of voters who criticize legislators for it, instead of accepting it as a necessary part of democratic politics.


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