The most popular game to hit the internet in recent months is a simple one called Words with Friends. The rules are simple. One starts the game off with creating a word with letter tiles, and each subsequent word has to connect to an existing word on the board. Here's an example: If I play the word Theory; the friend I am playing against has to use one of my letters to form a new word, say Yarn. See, simple. Whoever scores the most points using the letter tiles they are given wins. Think Scrabble but only way better -- at least that is how the makers advertise the game.
But when it comes to the political version of the game it gets a lot more complicated and far more consequential. In the political version, the game often leads to a lowering of the dialogue rather than a raising of the bar of discussion.
Take the round of Words with Friends being played by the Republican candidates for the nomination to run against Barack Obama. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich played first. He laid down in political speeches accusations like, "food stamp President" and believes "black people should demand paychecks instead of food stamps" which alludes to a color and race coded dog whistle many thought was long past us. So what does Rick Santorum do with his turn? He calls one of his opponents a "pale version of the President that we have now."
In fact, Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suggests in another turn that he doesn't want to give "Black people" other people's money and when Congressman Ron Paul gets his opportunity he reminds us that Black people are violently dangerous and warns subscribers of his newsletters that there is a pending race war coming and they better prepare for the onslaught -- not to mention he's not in favor of the Civil Rights Act or even the Civil War.
Mitt Romney, the one time moderate governor of Massachusettes, has refused to be left out of the game. Governor Romney has been relentless in playing catch up... he likes firing people; he thinks corporations are people; He could care less about poor people; and surrounded by a group of young black people his only question is "who let the dogs, lose!" The man who is seen as the elitist rich guy lives up to the billing by his own words.
Mitt is a competitive guy when it comes to Words with Friends.
See, that is how the game in political terms is played. In a primary fight were African-Americans will make us less than 2-percent of the Republican electorate the way to win is to make Black people the enemy and to make the nation's first African-American President unacceptable. A moment where the country's entire electorate is struggling to make ends meet, suggesting they are envious and of no concern is the negative tenor of the conversation, thus far. It is what they believe is exactly the game plan needed to win.
How else can one justify the stage craft of the presumed Republican nominee, Mitt Romney standing with entertainer and faux rich man Donald Trump at a Las Vegas news conference accepting Trump's endorsement?
In the late Spring, Donald Trump was the leading contender for the Republican nomination, himself. He destroyed his chances by trying to connect President Obama to the conspiracy that he didn't have a birth certificate and in the weeks following proclaimed he was an affirmative action selection to Columbia and later into Harvard Law School.
Donald Trump imploded because his version of "Word with Political Friends" became a game amongst racist and woefully ignorant friends.
Yet, a man who has made his whole political career based upon making the right decisions to get the country on the right track has now intertwined himself with a man who made a mockery of the political debate this country truly deserves in this election.
Romney will soon -- or should soon -- be asked about his association with the words of his new friend. How will Romeny answer if he believes Obama's long term birth certificate is sufficient? How will Romney answer if he believes Obama's widely seen success at Harvard's Law School was based on giving a man of color a shot he didn't deserve? Standing next to Trump, accepting his kind words and strong endorsement demands we find out how associated he is to Trump's thinking and beliefs.
Are the words with Trump the same words Romney uses with his friends?
How he answers those questions will tell us more about Romney than it does about Trump. In fact, it will give us more insight into his inner-thoughts than any inquisite focus into Obama.
The reality is that this game keeps the country from having a real debate about the real choices this country should be selecting in the 2012 election. There are hard decisions that need to be given a mandate: Should the Rich pay more? How should we revise and reform our entitlement programs? Should America submit itself to another war with another middl eastern country?
Until those running for the opportunity to debate President Obama on these tough topics decide to walk away from the board game, we won't get answers to these important questions.
One can decide to take running the country seriously or they can treat it like a game. It seems the attraction to the game is winning; but hey, whats wrong with a few words among friends? Alot!
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