Thursday, March 30, 2017

Board Games & Politics

Several weeks ago, just after the new year began, I was invited to the home of some friends for a Friday night of drinking and board games.  Along with the massage I had scheduled for earlier that evening, this promised to be a great ending to my work week and a good way to get my weekend started.  Little did I realize though that I would end the evening with an interesting political allegory about which I would feel inspired to write.

Going into this social situation, I didn't know that I would be the only liberal present, a situation that in and of itself isn't all that surprising given the socio-political make-up of Sussex County, Delaware.  I was surprised though to be among ardent Trump supporters.  Although I do count Trump supporters among some of my friends, family, and colleagues, I wasn't prepared to be surrounded in so intimate a social situation and to be the target of some good-natured ribbing for my liberal viewpoints.

Don't get me wrong - I didn't feel there was anything malicious in the teasing, and I was certainly giving as good as I got.  I just wasn't expecting this type of encounter among people I consider friends and contemporaries.

The evening commenced with a series of board games of varying levels of complexity.  The first game we played was Apples To Apples, which is essentially a clean version of Cards Against Humanity.  A round consists of one player reading a question or statement with a fill-in-the blank.  The other players provide responses from the cards they have, and the reader selects what he/she feels is the best answer, usually the one that is the most clever or the funniest.

Round after round, I noticed something.  The Trump supporters were, to put it kindly, stepping outside the bounds of the rules to get their cards selected.  There were not-so-subtle hints thrown out as to which card the reader should select.  Some of the readers at times clearly picked the card of someone they have a more personal connection to, like a spouse, rather than actually picking one that was actually funny or clever.  And, most interestingly there was some irritation expressed whenever a reader failed to pick a certain card, particularly a card in which the player had done everything he or she could to get it selected.

I, the bleeding heart liberal, stuck to the rules and came in last.

However, the next game we played saw a turning of the tide so to speak.  We set out to play something called Finish Lines, a game in which a player is given a portion of a quote from anything ranging from song lyrics to a literary text to a famous speech and has to finish the quote.  It is a game that requires a certain measure of cultural literacy as well as a certain precision in the use of language in order to be successful at it.

It is also a game in which it is very difficult to rely on special favors and secret hints in order to win.  And, I noticed that the Trump supporters began to flounder as I took a decisive lead.  In other words, the liberal excelled at the game that required a base of knowledge and education, not side deals and underhanded maneuvers.

The final game of the evening served up the last major point of the little political allegory I was observing.  I had never played Cranium before, so I asked for someone to explain it to me.  I was told that the game requires at least two teams of two people to compete against each by completing cooperative tasks and problem solving.  I was paired with one of the Trump supporters and faced off against the other two.

Almost immediately, my partner and I dominated the game, winning one round after another, completing our tasks well within the time limits placed on us.  Anything ranging from acting out a scenario to constructing objects with clay - nothing daunted us for too long, and we found ourselves easily working in tandem to move further along the board.  As our imminent victory became more assured, I couldn't help but take pride in the fact that the liberal was succeeding at the game that required cooperation and problem solving skills.

You probably noticed that I didn't mention any names in this little anecdote I've laid out.  That's because I have no desire to embarrass my friends.  And, I don't mean to imply that some lighthearted rule breaking during an inconsequential board game indicates a lack in moral rectitude.  These individuals are fine people with whom I always have a good time.  However, I could not ignore the obvious political parallels I could draw between what was happening during this pleasant evening of recreation and what has been playing out on the national stage over the last year.


  1. I think I have been at this gathering, and it's so much fun. However, I would never have thought there were DT supporters in that fun group. You seem to have handled it well!

    1. Not the group you're thinking of, I'm sure.


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