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Susan Smalley, Ph.D. Headshot

Vote for the Infinite Game Player

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As you enter the voting booth on Tuesday, vote for the future of our country - the one we leave to our children and their children's children. Vote long term.

James Carse once wrote about life as a game of play and in that game, there being two kinds of players. He called them Finite and Infinite game players. A finite player goes about life with beginnings and endings from a win/lose perspective. The object of the game is to win and the game ends when someone loses. The Infinite game player goes about life trying to engage as many people as possible into the game of play with one objective: to keep the game going.

An infinite game player can play finite games but a finite game player doesn't see the infinite perspective.

Perhaps we haven't had such a clear distinction among candidates along this perspective until this 2012 election.

Obama is an infinite game player; Romney a finite player.

What's the better strategy for America and the world at large? Clearly, the rest of the world wants America to be an Infinite game player. They overwhelmingly vote in favor of Obama - if their votes were to count. His actions reveal his infinite game playing makeup. He sees America as part of a larger whole - an interconnected piece of a larger shared humanity. As part of this larger whole, America may be the leader but it isn't because we are better than others or more deserving than others, it is because we see the world from this infinite perspective and through our leadership we may assist in making the world a more prosperous and peaceful place for all. Obama leads from an infinite game perspective although he can clearly play well at finite games (the death of Osama bin Laden and the passage of Obamacare are examples).

Romney is a finite player in the game of life. He's about America winning at all costs - at the expense of others and other countries. His actions suggest that he may even think some Americans deserve to win at the expense of others (e.g. his 47% comment and ideas around not taxing the rich). His ideas and actions reflect someone interested in winning at all costs - that means others lose.

I for one appreciate having a President who is an Infinite Game player.

I like to keep the game of life going - for our planet, for our country, for the lives of others around the planet, for my family and for myself.

Consider voting for Obama on Tuesday. Let's engage everyone in the game of life and keep the game going.

James P. Carse: Finite and Infinite Games: A vision of life as play and possibility (1986).