FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politician’s Dilemma: Did Bernie Sanders Sell Out?

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.42.28 AM

It has been a couple of days since Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton and the Internet is still seething with Sanders’ supporters at each other’s throats. Most are maintaining loyalty to the man, falling on their swords for him. In a collective mass delusion, they see the reality of Sanders’ capitulation as some kind of grand master strategy for a win at the Democratic National Convention. Anything to deny what is plain for all to see: Bernie Sanders, the so-called champion of the 99%, a “once in a lifetime” “incorruptible candidate” has bent his knee to Hillary Clinton, a corrupt politician who is the epitome of everything he has supposedly stood against throughout his presidential run and decades-long career.

In our age of identity politics, people form strong attachments to individual candidates, and Bernie Sanders swept millions with his likeability, no-nonsense manner, integrity, goofy humor and overall realness. For those who supported and even love the man, the sight of his endorsement on TV was humiliating, pathetic and tragic. But did Bernie really sell out?

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Emotions run high and tend to cloud judgement. Therefore, in order to judge whether Bernie Sanders sold out it is useful to fall back on a methodical, scientific analysis. For this, I will repurpose a technique called “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”, a scenario analyzed by use of principles of game theory:

The Prisoner’s Dilemma, developed by mathematicians Merrill Flood and Melvin Dreshner, is an analysis of a hypothetical situation. The police apprehend two accomplices for committing a minor crime, but they’re suspected of a greater offense. The evidence for the greater offense, however, is circumstantial. The police need their confession to convict.

For this purpose, the accomplices are separated and individually presented with the following options: squeal on your partner and go free (and be absolved of the lesser crime) or remain silent and risk your partner squealing on you, in which case you’ll get the maximum prison term for the major offense.

But there are two more possible scenarios: if both prisoners squeal, they each get an intermediate sentence. Lastly, if both prisoners stay silent, they’ll be tried for the lesser offense, and could still end up in jail.

Studies show that although game theory predicts that the rational choice for each prisoner (dictated by self-preservation) is to squeal on his or her partner, most humans will attempt to at least remain faithful to their partner once before giving them up, which demonstrates the tendency of humans to value social bonds. (the above originally published here).

The Politician’s Dilemma (see Table below)

It is useful to apply a similar 2 x 2 approach to Bernie Sanders’ case, coined here as “The Politician’s Dilemma”. For this, we test the interaction between a set of two parameters that directly relate to the question of Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton:

1) Hillary Clinton’s record as a politician
2) Bernie Sanders’ familiarity with her record

Similar to the case of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the interaction of these two variables will generate four possible options, and a solution to our question of Sanders’ integrity.

Bernie Sanders has been a progressive Democrat/Independent politician for decades. He ran his current presidential campaign on an anti-establishment platform, frequently calling out Wall Street and its ties with Washington. Sanders repeatedly described corporations and their ties to government as the corruption that lies at the roots of an economy that is rigged in favor of the 1%, and prided himself on the fact that his campaign raised all of its money from individual contributions (averaging $27 of course). Further, Bernie correctly identified Hillary Clinton as the representative of the establishment he was rallying people against. He probably knows her record better than most, including her sordid history of corruption, warmongering and trade deals that have made her one of the most unfavorable candidates to run for President of the United States.

Importantly, Bernie Sanders did his research, and still endorsed Hillary Clinton though he had other options (e.g. go Green, bow out without endorsing her, waiting for the convention).

Sanders touted changing the entire system as his objective (that’s what a revolution means), not making small, incremental gains in the form of assurances on the party platform. Any promises about personal promotion to himself or those close to him, such as a VP position or chairing an important committee, fall in the realm of personal gain and are by definition selling out. Thus, any deals that Sanders made with Clinton are a capitulation of his “revolutionary” movement and its incorporation into the Democratic Party establishment.

The Politician’s Dilemma: Results

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.28.54 AM

More articles by:

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.  

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail