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The Boston Globe

Opinion

TOM KEANE

Playing political games

Summer’s upon us, and election season is just around the corner. Time for some political games! Here are a few of my favorites.

Marco Rubio. Best enjoyed in the ocean waters off Florida or along the Rio Grande, most gameplayers are would-be immigrants attempting to avoid capture by another player named “ICE.” ICE calls out “Marco!” and the others must answer “Rubio!” Using the sound of their voices, ICE tries to find the immigrants. When he does, though, there’s a twist: A successful capture can involve imprisonment, deportation, or — if a certain senator is in the mood — a warm welcome to a new country!

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Kick the Can. Players are usually politicians trying to avoid hard budgetary choices. Funding pension obligations requires cutting spending today? Kick the can! Tax increases needed to reduce the deficit? Kick the can! After many rounds, players are usually so exhausted they go home, leaving another group of players to come on the field where sometimes they find that there’s no more can to kick! Hey, no fair!

Monopoly. This Massachusetts-based game has been going on a while, and the Democratic team is already far ahead. But look here! Someone wants to raise a challenge! Can the GOP team possibly wrest away veto power from legislative Democrats? Can it win a few statewide offices? Might it even get the governorship? No, no, and a very slim possibility yes. Once a monopolist, always a monopolist.

Capture the Flag. A quadrennial spectator sport, fans bet on which of a small group of players will capture the Democratic and Republican flags, thereby entitling them to run against each other for president. Gameplay features hundreds of debates, attack ads, and numerous unhealthy meals of fried chicken. 2016’s version promises much the same excitement as — wait a second! — the Democrats are saying they won’t play, that someone already has captured the flag. How can that be?!

Marty, May I? For years known as “Tommy, May I?,” this retitled game features a host of players seeking permission to develop buildings, run businesses, or otherwise get something done in the city. “Marty, May I . . . open a bar?” asks one supplicant. “Marty, May I . . . get a zoning variance?” begs another. Sometimes Marty says yes, sometimes Marty says no — and you’ll never know why! If turned down, you can always try again. But next time, you might want to hire some new lawyers, become buddies with local unions, or, best of all, get to know Marty’s neighbors in Dorchester. He always listens to them!

Musical Chairs. Every two years, Massachusetts’ senators and representatives play this nerve-wracking game as they to try to keep their seats. Gameplay involves gathering signatures, holding fundraisers, door-knocking, shaking hands, and then turning out the vote. Players, voters, and onlookers spend election eve biting their nails, wondering about how it all ends. But when they wake up the next morning — surprise — it’s the same old people in the same old chairs!

Chutes and Ladders. This old game has always been a crowd pleaser, with many, many players. Some go up the ladder of success, others slide down the chute to failure. But now there’s a revised version and, oh boy, it’s much tougher. Wow, those new ladders are really steep. And who are those people already at the top? They weren’t there before. Oh no, someone pushed you onto a chute and you’ve slid down! But don’t worry. There’s always another ladder around so that you can climb back up — no wait, there aren’t any to be found. Those folks at the top have taken them all away!

Tom Keane can be reached at tomkeane@tomkeane.com.

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