Americans are a nation of game players.
Seems natural to look at how Washington really works as a power game.
Washington power game has been altered by many factors:
- Congressional assertiveness against the presidency
- The revolt within Congress against the seniority system
- The merchandising of candidates
- The explosion of special interest politics
- The demands of political fundraising
- The massive growth of staff power
- Changes in voters
- Presidents now have much greater difficulty marshalling governing
- The new breed of senators and House members play video politics, a
different game from the old inside, backroom politics of Congress.
- Party labels mean much less now to voters and to many candidates.
- Power floats.
- The power game has unwritten rules, rituals, customs and patterns that
explain why certain things happen in Washington.
- Washington is as much moved by who’s up and who’s down, who’s in and
who’s out, as it is by setting policy.
- Politicians pursue the interests of their home team-their constituents,
but they also hotly pursue their highly personal interests in the inside
- Turf games
- Access games
- Career games
- Money games
- Blame games
- Each of these has an inner logic of its own that often diverts
officeholders away from the single minded pursuit of the best policy.
- Congress is the principal policy arena of battle.
- People there compete, take sides, form teams, and when one action is
finished, the teams dissolve, and members form new sides for the next
- Politicians use sports analogies all the time.
- Political reporters are like sportswriters, indulging in political locker
- The Washington power game is not one game, but an olympiad of games, going
on simultaneously, all over town.
- There are advantages for those who understand the rules of the games.
- The lessons of the game apply from one administration to the next.
- In Washington, unlike the military or industry, power is not hierarchical.
- Persuasion works better than unilateral policy pronouncements.
- Command is less effective than consensus.
- What is power?