Letter From the President


Clinton and Trump Played Different Games

I like to describe our country as “the big, raucous American family.”  And there is hardly a  better opportunity to build family connections than with games.  Or a more revealing way to understand each other and ourselves, than by the tactics we use within the game.

My dad used to slip Monopoly money to my sister, because he couldn’t stand to see anyone ‘lose’.  Our neighbor was outraged that my dad wouldn’t follow the rules of the game.  Another card game we played with friends, ‘Nertz’ has a shared playing field and a private one… I was outraged when one of our friends refused to play in the shared field because it would benefit our team. He was in it to win...no holds barred. As you may imagine, I am accustomed to more competition than winner-take-all. (Thanks, Dad!) I learned much about people from playing games with them...and also tapped into my own hyper-competitive side on occasion.  

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How do you play games? And is there a connection to how you treat others in day-to-day life? What are your internal markers (or conscience) that allow for some actions but not others? And are the rules you use the same as the person with whom you interact?  

In our recently concluded election, the Clinton campaign played with the objective to “beat the other team”.  Kind of like the rules for “Pictionary”.  The Trump campaign played to “win it all”, similar to the rules for “Risk”. The resulting chaos of playing by two different sets of rules within a single election has left us feeling uncertain as to what the social fabric or the social contract, of America, is. What would have been different, if the campaigns had played by the rules of “Pandemic” where the goal was to save the country by working together? We last saw this type of cooperation after the U.S. entered World War II.  Does it take a threat to end the world as we know it to change the rules of the game? Cooperation like that ended with the war.



The politics of fear are alive and well… engaging our reptilian and emotional brains, where decisions are actually made. If we demonize and name-call our fellow Americans, how can we see their value in our shared society?

What do we, as a nation, value in each other? And how often do we visit our neocortex to challenge what “we know to be true?” Less often than we think we do. In a country that values it’s “rational mind”, we often fail to examine the rules of the political games themselves and the impact on our day-to-day lives.  Our willingness to use fear to “get out the base” has consequences.

Living in constant fear will keep the reptilian brain active. And not in a good way. Extended periods of anxiety and stress (fear by other names) result in a breakdown of mental health and on a larger scale, our social fabric. Trust in a shared reality is missing. There are techniques to counteract the fear...but we must choose to use them. We must choose to use our neocortex (rational) brain. Deprogramming from constant anxiety takes vigilance. It’s not automatic.  

Similarly, choosing to identify the rules of the games we play, demonstrating our values when interacting with others is another conscious choice.  So is our willingness to abide by our stated values. One of my rules is to treat everyone with dignity. Another is to honor the gift offered by each person.

What is your go-to game? And what rules or values do you play by?

Depending on what results you want, you can choose to play a different game. Our country is divided when we play “Risk” or “Pictionary” in real life.  But what if divisiveness - that divide between us - is the actual “Pandemic?”  Can we work together to save ourselves?

Debilyn Molineaux is a transformation partner. She works with visionaries and movements in support of a new national and global social contract focused on personal dignity and sovereignty. Her work highlights the relationships between individuals, institutions and governments for conscious transformation. She is the Managing Partner for Living Room Conversations, President of Coffee Party USA and Co-Director for Bridge Alliance, representing micro to macro system approaches.  She’s an advisor to Ingenuity Innovation Center,  Allsides.com and the Alinsky Center.

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  • commented 2017-01-18 17:56:19 -0500
    Rising to the top and stress are related in working under stress. So as the condition of the whole see the problem so the game of politics changes. World War II was following world war I both wars fought to to be the end of war. Wars have down sized since world war II and the issues of the pandemic as gone way down nationally since then. there are local pandemics that are smaller and that starts to establish connections and the games in play become different games as the game board players connect with each other and come up with sets of rules they can play by. In such a world your pandemic emergency is not my pandemic emergency but most start with a pandemic emergency it is by growing out of the pandemic emergency that groups form like the coffee pot party. IN the matters of what is a reasonable solution. Have a great day may god bless you.
  • commented 2017-01-18 10:19:52 -0500
    What I get from this is that we have to work to reach beyond fear to make reallt good decisions.
  • commented 2017-01-18 00:42:07 -0500
    I’m a former blue collar worker and local campaign mgr. from Seattle. Who witnessed how the Democrats, by the end of the 70’s, had abandoned labor, and thereby the entire working class. Leaving us with no voice. The new strategists of the 80’s, system analyst types, had no connection to the traditional party base. They aimed at the suburban undecideds. Yet look at election results and see where the Democratic power actually is: urban areas. Add to this saga the trend among the Dems to buy into (or be bought by) the vague idea that somehow the emerging global economy would trickle down. Along with the reprehensible slogan that we should “vote for the lesser of two evils.” They only got eviler and eviler! ;- ) Clinton had her friends on Wall Street, a big hint to us peasants that we weren’t really part of her team. So yes, I like the political games analogies.

    However, I think the reptile brain/fear analogy is overused. Even among real reptiles there is cooperation. Remember, every one of us critters is a set of parts working together. Not only on the level of cellular coordination, but the fact we all have sets of helpful bacteria. Just about all plants, in particular trees, grow in obligate symbiosis with fungus on their roots. That area, the mycorrhizosphere, is a marvelously complex biome with thousands of species that alone makes cooperation the dominant mode of existence on this planet. Not competition. The reverse is too often simply asserted because it fits with the dominant Social Darwinist econopathic competition model. That win/lose, eat or be eaten dominator model. Yes, obviously there is also competition in nature. However, none of us humans would have survived prehistoric times, and for that matter through most of recorded history, had we not been great at working together.

    San Francisco, CA

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