NationStates Puts You In Control Of Your Own Political Paradise

NationStates Puts You In Control Of Your Own Political Paradise

Ignorance is bliss and escapism is ignorance.
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Paying attention to politics can be a frustrating, exhausting task. Arguing with relatives and e-mailing representatives only gets you so far. Most of the time, it feels like you have no influence on what happens in your own country. For me, the perfect escape from political helplessness lies in NationStates.

NationStates is an online “nation simulation” game. You begin by creating a fictional country and can personalize things such as the national flag, animal, motto and currency. Then, issues will start to pop up. How you deal with these issues is how you shape your simulated nation. For example, your citizens might complain about traffic. You could pave a new freeway, which would alleviate traffic issues, but hurts the environment. You could boost public transportation, which would be more environmentally friendly but would also increase taxes. Every issue has two or more proposals from which you can choose, and you must carefully weigh the benefits and costs of each decision to determine which would best suit your nation.

A new issue will appear every five hours until you reach five pending issues. If none of the choices for an issue are appealing or the decision is too difficult, you can dismiss it, which is the real-world equivalent of ignoring it until it goes away. Each decision you make influences your nation based on an extensive array of metrics: the simulation tracks everything from Political Apathy to Agriculture to Public Nudity. After each decision you make, you’ll see some relevant fake headlines that show the effect the decision has had on your nation. The “public” commentary on your decisions and the witty quip about the result of your decision can sometimes open your mind to a new side of the issue you might not have considered. Here’s an example from my nation, The Republic of Krete Island, after I lowered the salaries of government officials:



If you scroll down, you can see much more specific details on how that decision affected your nation:



This is where it becomes apparent how much effort is put into NationStates. Any decision you make can have a butterfly effect on dozens of metrics that seem completely unrelated to the decision you made. From the NationStates FAQ: “Because of the way so many factors can interact, it's hard to predict the effects of a decision even when you know all the variables. Banning skateboards, for example, can lead to unhappier teenagers, who generate more youth crime, which increases the level of fear amongst the general populace, which spurs insurance sales.” You can track trends and see your rank for any metric. The simulation keeps track of leading causes of death, government expenditure and economic factors, and displays each in an informative pie chart. All these tools make keeping track of your nation, identifying issues and seeing the effects of your decisions much simpler.

There is also a social aspect of NationStates. The region system allows you to create a world region with your friends or join one of the monolithic regions of the thousands of members that already exist. These regions organize nations and make them more powerful together in the World Assembly (WA). The World Assembly is like the United Nations. Joining the 25,691 members of the WA allows a nation to vote on human rights issues in the General Assembly and commend or condemn nations in the Security Council. However, joining the WA requires your nation to abide by the legislation it passes, so reclusive or tyrannical nations might want to steer clear.

NationStates is a fun simulation to play and allows you to observe the growth of a nation, while learning by tackling its most prominent issues. Seeing Krete Island develop from a fledgling nation to a powerhouse of social, technological, and environmental progress has been and will continue to be a source of satisfaction for me. It’s also immensely therapeutic to be able to close social media and news sites, put real-world politics out of my mind and mold my own ideological paradise with a few clicks of the mouse.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Comey's Failure

How his plan to exonerate Clinton backfired
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The interview between Former FBI Director James Comey and George Stephanopoulos revealed new information surrounding Comey's decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. Comey explained in the interview that the decision to reopen the investigation was not made by him alone. Comey stated, "The senior team of the FBI, including the general counsel, thought we have to."

So now we know that Comey did not act alone, but it is important to note that the decision to reopen the investigation undoubtedly hurt Hillary Clinton's chances and could have very well cost her the election. It is evident that Comey was aware of this possibility going in, but facing pressure from other FBI officials, forced him to go back on his prior reassurance that Clinton was no longer in need of investigation. It would be easy to dismiss Comey as a political hack working against Hillary Clinton, but his explanation during the interview shines a new light on his reasoning.

Now, do I think Comey is a political hack? Yes, I do. But not against Hillary Clinton. After Stephanopoulos asked Comey if his decision was made in some capacity to legitimize Clinton when she won the presidency, Comey acknowledged that,

"I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a factor,” Comey said. "I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out"

Based on Comey's response, it would appear that this was a man acting with a goal in mind. Let's further break down that goal using his own statements. Comey, by his own admission, was acting as though Clinton was going to win the election. He further realized the implication of new Clinton emails appearing on the laptop of Anthony Weiner. Comey was evidently concerned with how this would impact Clinton's presidency if left untouched by the FBI. So what was his next move?

The FBI had forced his hand and made him reopen the investigation days before the election. It would be idiotic to assume Comey did not understand that his credibility would take a hit with this announcement. Comey gives context to the situation in his discussion with other FBI officials with one saying, "We can't possibly finish before the election because we have to read tens of thousands of emails".

This, to me, highlights a major problem. It was clear that they could not adequately review the information before the election ended. But wait, why did Comey then tell congressional leaders that their was no criminal wrongdoing? He just admitted on ABC that they did not have time to review all the emails. So how exactly would he know if there was no criminal activity within those emails?

Here's my take: Comey knew he had to reopen the investigation and understood how it could negatively impact Clinton's chances. So, he did what any good lawyer would do. He presented the investigation and got the chance to paint the scene and exonerate her before her political opponents could go after her post-victory.

His acknowledgement that there was not enough time to review all the emails and his subsequent conclusion that she was not guilty shows clear intent to exonerate without proper investigation. It was a facade designed to appease the American public and convince them that Clinton did nothing wrong even after the evidence was not properly reviewed before a true conclusion was reached.

This would have worked out in Clinton's favor had Comey not gone about the investigation so poorly. Comey's investigation was not convincing and therefore left a bad taste in voter's mouths when it came time to hit the polls.

Cover Image Credit: Quartz Media

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A Love Letter To You, Paul Ryan

You finally located your spine!
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My dearest Paul,

I must start off with saying that I'm incredibly proud of you for your recent decision to retire as Speaker of the House.

You've finally located your spine.

When you first took on this role, I was sad that I'd no longer see John Boehner's poorly tanned, orange face behind the President, scowling as Joe Biden beamed like a proud dad ever time Barack spoke. Thankfully though, we have a new orange-faced scowler at the helm! What a relief!

I used to get lost in your blue eyes. I mean, come on, how could a girl not? Your wife is so lucky that she gets to stare into them every day.

You have truly left a legacy: a divided and extremely polarized House, multiple government shutdowns, and a party that seems to have complete lost it's identity because you and the President, who are supposed to be working together, can't seem to meet eye to eye.

I hope you take a page out of Barack's book and take a vacation. You deserve it! It's got to be absolutely exhausting to accomplish leaving a crucial branch of our government worse off than it was before.

My best advice: get a massage. Who knows what your spine has been up to these past few years. You definitely need to work out those knots.

All the best,

The House-flipping Hopeful

Cover Image Credit: Biography

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