The Best Analogy of All Time: Mario Kart Politics

What better way to analyze current political trends than a detailed comparison to a popular video game? Well, there are probably several better ways, but this one amuses me and will speak pointedly to my generation.

I am willing to bet that everyone I went to middle school, high school, and college with has played Mario Kart, the classic racing game featuring our favorite plumbers and mutant mushrooms. The colorful levels and dastardly banana peels provide hours of entertainment and occasional explosions of profanity. So how does this seemingly childish game relate to our economy and political system?

The player in 1st place (I usually play as Toad, the little mushroom, because he’s the fastest) is the one percent. He’s winning the game, far ahead of the competition and pulling away. 2nd through 8th are the middle class, clamoring for a good position and maybe even taking first if they play their cards right. 10th through 15th are the lower class, the ones who either have hit some very bad luck (a couple of red homing shells and a slip off of the race track can waylay even the most talented players) or are simply bad at the game. Now that we’ve established the character roles, let’s get in to the politics.

The player in first place is there because he’s good at the game. He knows the tracks, when to use certain items, and how to position himself to take advantage of opportunities when they come along. It’s true that sometimes he gets there due to dumb luck, but consistent winners are just plain talented. He can fairly say he has the race in the bag UNLESS he encounters the one true bane of his existence: the dreaded blue shell. For those living under particularly large rocks, the blue shell is a homing missile that will find the first place player, wherever he is, and bomb him. The explosion stops the player dead for a few crucial seconds, potentially costing him the race by letting second or third place pass him up.

Right now, the government is trying to develop a blue shell to take on the one percent. Increased taxes, business restrictions, smear campaigns, anything and everything to close the gap between the leader and the followers. At least, they say they are – we’ll hear the tune they sing when campaign funding runs low. Regardless, the one percent is the target of the majority.

The problem is, the only things they are coming up with are Bullet Bills. For you rock dwellers again, the Bullet Bill is a bonus item gained only by those in the 10th to 15th spots in the race, which acts as a rocket to propel you forward for a limited time. It takes complete control of your character so you don’t fall off the race track, and knocks everyone out of your way. While in theory it gives the players who have fallen behind a fighting chance (and sometimes it really does help), it can cause some serious problems. First of all, it only helps you so much. Once you reach the limit of Bullet Bills boost, it drops you wherever you are to continue on your own. 9 times out of 10, by the time you get a Bullet Bill, you are so far behind that you maybe gain 3 or 4 places in the race. Granted, 3 or 4 places can be a huge advantage, IF you have the talent to maintain it. However, if you’re in last place, chances are you’re there for a reason. It’s so easy to fall behind again, and you still aren’t even close to first place.

The second reason Bullet Bills are a bad idea is that they only really threaten the middle class. First place is ahead and gone, a Bullet Bill from behind is usually no threat as the only people who get them are far behind. To those players riding steady in 2nd to 10th, however, they can be deadly. A player who up to this point had been trailing behind comes rocketing up behind you and takes you down along the way. Any chance you had at catching up is destroyed by a chance encounter with a stimulus package which in the end doesn’t really help the people in last anyway.

The final way that Bullet Bills are damaging is that they are not equalizers, they are polarizers. The havoc they wreak only affects the middle and bottom class, weakening all involved while allowing the first place player to carry on unaffected. First place has gained the lead through talent and determination and sometimes a bit of luck, and will most likely stay there to the end. The middle and bottom class get to fight it out, each trying so very hard to gain a position or two.

There’s another aspect of Mario Kart that carries over to the real world: there will always be a winner and a loser. Always. The degrees to which you win or lose may vary, but in the end, someone gets last place. The Bullet Bill may launch someone ahead, but only at another player’s expense. It’s a cycle. The one who falls behind cries out for a stimulus package because it’s unfair that they have to be in last now. So they get some help, and then someone else needs assistance. It goes on and on in an endless battle for mediocrity, because when you introduce levelers to the playing field, the field can only worsen. The problem with introducing blanket policies is that they cannot cause the standard to improve.

Stimulus packages to banks that are failing only allow them to think failing is acceptable. The banks failed because of poor management and shoddy lending policies (which many were forced to follow because of government involvement in the first place). Why on Earth should that be rewarded? Allow failures to fail, and you’ll be left with successes. Keep giving second and third chances and you will keep getting mediocre results.

Mario Kart is an excellent game because it’s exciting and no two races are ever the same. It’s chaotic fun – you never know when things will change drastically. Apply those practices to real life situations, however, and it immediately becomes ridiculous. The first place player gets hit with a blue shell and potentially loses everything. Why, because he was succeeding? Is not one of our country’s three founding human rights pursuit of happiness?

Here’s another point: it says PURSUIT of happiness, not happiness. Our country was founded on the idea that you have the right to try to be happy, not that your happiness is guaranteed. You know what is created when you guarantee rewards for no effort? Nothing. Nothing at all, because where is the incentive for someone to work hard when their rewards are taken from them and distributed to those who didn’t work for it? Hard work should have big rewards. No work should have no rewards. That is the only system that can sustain itself. All others will inevitably collapse into financial ruin, as we are seeing now.

All I can say to those in first place is keep doing what you’re doing. Keep striving for excellence, and you will obtain it. You worked hard to get where you are, through intense competition and many dangerous banana peels. If you’re in first place, be proud of your success, and don’t apologize for it. Unless, of course, you got there using a lightning bolt (zaps all players, spinning them out of control and shrinking them so everyone but you is slower and run-over-able). Then you’re just an evil bastard.

2 Responses to “The Best Analogy of All Time: Mario Kart Politics”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Another item that brings back warm memories of happy times!

  2. daevski says:

    Hahaha, this true was well written. The analogy, while comedic, was also spot-on. The topic is debatable, but what in life is not? Besides, it’s well written enough that I don’t want to debate it!

    Thanks for another good read 🙂

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