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
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail