Of Poker and Partisanship

As a disclaimer, this post is not about the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Alan Schlesinger. But if you haven't watched his performance on Hardball (it's pretty gruesome), take a look.

Interestingly, Tom Edsall writes in TNR about how party affiliation affects poker play. A few points he uses to back his thesis:

Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker...The party advocating preemptive war is not likely to be cowed by a big bet. Democrats, conversely, are the party of risk-aversion--supportive of the safety net, opposed to new weapons systems, and sympathetic to protective trade policies. They are less able to tolerate the tension and uncertainty of a game in which a week's salary--or more--can be won or lost in a single hand.

Another argument for the view that Republicans make better poker players is that poker rewards what feminists have long considered one of the worst attributes of men: the capacity to "objectify" the other...The game, pitting men against men in a zero-sum competition, is the classic form of evolutionary conflict...But the quick and dirty summary is that the Republican Party's candidates attract a greater percentage of men than women by advocating a male view of life as a game in which the rewards justly go to the winners.

It certainly makes sense, but needs to be clarified and examined further. First, characterizing Republicans as masculine does not make Democrats feminine. This election cycle, at its very least, should prove our ability to go on the offensive. Second, nothing shows that their Darwinian, winner-take-all approach will maintain itself as a long-term governing philosophy. (Check out NDN's use of soccer to brand Democratic values here). As Edsall concludes, "Empathy and affection damage the ability to win. I think the person who probably best understands all this is Karl Rove." For my part, I'd rather keep my sense of empathy, affection, and what's right - rather than giving these up to win at any cost.