We can learn a lot about people from the games they favored in childhood. These games create deep and abiding interests in the real world through the skills they teach…. And the pursuits they inspire. Of course the generalizations I am about to propose are as fallible as ANY generalization: A great deal more than childhood games goes into the development of psyche and political disposition… family and peer influence are the most predictable determinants…. And yet, I still see a correlation between childhood games and political affiliation.
I was a dismal failure at Monopoly…. My socialist leanings are understandable. While my family joyfully built hotels, I mortgaged every property until, destitute, I left the others to play that game. I never felt great motivation to get better….I was already VERY good at Scrabble, so felt no really deep need to explore the world of wealth, banking, finance and … well, I am no stranger to debt. I suspect that many successful Republicans …those members of the 1% who did or DIDN’T inherit their wealth…began at their kitchen tables playing Monopoly with their families. There is a keen, heartless demeanor required to impoverish family members, even in a game. To win all seems to be the ULTRA-Con Republican imperative today… the ULTIMATE game of Monopoly.
Which brings me to Scrabble. Lovers of words, no less competitive than Monopoly players, but favoring a different sort of intellectual challenge and skill. Words were my playground… books the icons, and keys to unlimited worlds of fantasy and fact… the public library the SHRINE of this love. Scrabble players hope to solve all problems with words. They endlessly shift letters into permutations of words, hoping to find the largest, the most deliberate…. And to PLACE it where it will do the most good. I propose that scrabble players succeed as diplomats or debaters, people who parse words to their greatest advantage, and, while hoping to win, have more focus on the deftness of skill than on the bankruptcy of their opponent, than on the aptitude that gave them the win. I suspect that this is the game of many Democrats, of people who depend on their intellect to reason each next move, each debate, each Congressional challenge. When Monopoly players and Scrabble players enter a game together… any game…. It is as though two different worlds are at play.
Chess, Risk, Stratego…… these are games where strategy is everything. These games are more covert than Scrabble: there are LONG TERM GOALS at play, using visual/spatial perception and prediction to confound the opponent and win through long term, and neither financial nor linguistic skill. These are the people who read their opponent well, who predict future moves on the basis of past moves, who sacrifice pawns… for Queens…. Or that same Queen…. To save the king. These are the people who might find friends who play either Monopoly or Scrabble… who hope that THEIR skill will guide the other players through political conquest. They are Democrats of Republicans, more because of past family allegiance or happenstance than deep affiliation. More keyed to the strategic win than to the ideals of the Republican Monopoly player, or to the Democrat Scrabble champ, they are the planners, the manipulators who focus on the ways to sway the will of the people in a Democracy to bring about their desired end.
None of these game players is a better person than the other…. One understands commerce, one conversation, one, human nature. Of course, there are those who play…. And win… at more than one game. That politics can be distilled to childhood games is unsurprising: Childhood is that time when children are encouraged to learn, in pleasant ways, about the adult world. It is also a time for individual skills and preferences to be developed. I repeat: these childhood games write NOTHING in stone of the future political affiliations of children…. But they hone certain skills, which are often re-interpreted in the political world as adults.
I still enjoy games of Scrabble…. Avoid games of Monopoly where possible, and am intrigued by games of chess… although I have never been better than an average player. I see my politics in these competitions and achievements (some dubious) of childhood. Even then I was becoming a generally socialistic Democrat…