The GOP’s ‘Kobayashi Maru’ Problem

If they want a chance in 2016, they must start acting NOW

In the universe of Star Trek, the Kobayashi Maru is a test taken by cadets at Starfleet command. It is presented as a “no win” scenario in which there are only two possible courses of action:

1. Rescue the crew of a damaged ship, but violate a treaty to do so and provoke a battle (in which you are outgunned and cannot win) with an alien race.

2. Leave the ship alone, thus avoiding the battle but guaranteeing the certain deaths of everyone on board.

This campaign season, the GOP ended up in their own Kobayashi Maru scenario, stemming purely from the nature of the beast as it were.

They never found a good answer. There may not have been a good answer. In order to win the Republican primaries and thus become the Presidential nominee, a candidate was going to have to get the Tea Party contingent of the party on their side. This was not optional. The Tea Party became a large part of the GOP base following the 2008 elections and therefore a large segment of Republican primary voters for the 2012 election came from that group (“Tea Party” here refers to not only groups specifically identified by that name, but also other groups with similar beliefs).

In order to get that Tea Party vote and the GOP nomination, a candidate would have to promote and support viewpoints and policies favored by these groups. We saw what happened when Jon Hunstman tried to go against the grain. He failed miserably.

The eventual GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, took note of this and shifted to the right on all of his positions so he would gain some acceptance among Tea Party voters and not ruin his chances of winning the nomination.

It worked and after winning the primaries he now had to focus on the general election, which meant he’d have to find a way to appeal to wider base of voters if he wanted to win the White House.

Here we find the “Kobayashi Maru” problem.

In order to appeal to a wider range of voters, he’d have to by design support policy positions that were more moderate than what the Tea Party groups were in favor of, but if he did so he’d lose Tea Party support which would damage his chances of beating Obama.

It truly was a no-win scenario.

If he expressed a strong, direct preference for prayer in public schools, he’d hit big with the Tea Party types, but he’d also alienate moderates. If he endorsed religious freedom in schools, he’d gain moderate support but lose backers on the Tea Party side.

For the Romney campaign it became a question of “how do we successfully toe this line so as to not alienate voters on either side?”

They never found a good answer. There may not have been a good answer.

You can talk at length about the myriad of reasons Mitt Romney didn’t win in 2012, but his inability to solve the problem outlined above has to be near the top of that list.

Of course, the public comments by a variety of GOP state and federal candidates didn’t help him much either, nor did the weak response of his campaign to them.

The Romney campaign should have developed a comprehensive public relations plan and done their best to get all GOP candidates on board with it. If someone did make damaging comments, they should have acted quickly and decisively to deal with it.

But this is not just a Mitt Romney problem. It is not just a 2012 problem. It’s a Republican problem and it’s one that needs a solution sooner rather than later. With Obama re-elected the Tea Party will maintain its strength so it seems clear that whoever runs for the 2016 GOP nomination will face the same minefields as Mitt Romney did this time around.

Though there will be a new Democratic nominee next time around, the only chance the GOP has to take back the White House hinges on the answer to this one question:

“How do you win a no-win scenario?”

It’s actually not impossible.

One of the most famous parts of Star Trek canon is that James T. Kirk was one of the few cadets to actually win the Kobayashi Maru scenario and successfully save the damaged ship. He did so by reprogramming the scenario, which, while unethical to a degree, was not against the rules. In fact, he received a commendation as a result because of his “creative thinking”.

What the Republicans really need is a James T. Kirk. Someone who can open them up to a new way of looking at things that could ultimately bring some unity and cohesion to the party.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Kindergarten Teacher Allegedly Killed by Mother-in-Law With Children Inside Home A kindergarten teacher was allegedly shot and killed by her mother-in-law with her children in the home, WSB-TV reports. Investigators were called to a home Thursday morning on a report of a gunshot wound. When they arrived, they discovered ...
Thanos
4 hours, 59 minutes ago
Views: 139 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Freedom of Movement Under United States Law, Should Kill the No Fly ListIn a recent Page it became apparent that some think the government can arbitrarily impede our travel from city to city, state to state. No they cannot. And the idea that the court cases predate flight and so don't cover ...
Great White Snark
10 hours, 33 minutes ago
Views: 185 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
How Do We Prevent the Next Brock Turner? — Pacific StandardOne of the things that’s so appalling about the Turner letters is that it’s obvious the parents would rather have a happy rapist Olympian for a son than direct the moral rehabilitation he so clearly needs. That attitude is a ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 5 hours ago
Views: 278 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Stockton Man Arrested by FBI Has an Extreme Hatred for Federal Government Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations have taken a Stockton, Utah man into custody and searched his home. It appears Bill Keebler was arrested in Nephi, and FBI agents will not say why he is in custody. ADVERTISING ...
Thanos
1 day, 5 hours ago
Views: 387 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 28 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 3
Likes: 1
Comments: 0
: 4
House Democrats Deliver Sit-in via Digital Platforms The protest that played out Wednesday on Capitol Hill wasn't quite plebiscite by Periscope. But it came close. Dissident lawmakers relied on digital platforms devised in the second decade of the 21st century to circumvent the leaders of the ...
Thanos
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 417 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 5 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 1
Comments: 0
: 2
Orlando Shooting: Man Who Says He Was Omar Mateen’s Gay Lover Speaks Out He said the sexual relationship lasted about two months, and they met at a hotel in Orlando between 15 and 20 times. Miguel told Univison that he believes Mateen intentionally targeted Latinos in retribution for feeling rejected by Puerto ...
Thanos
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 745 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 27 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 1
Comments: 0
: 2
Ex-House Speaker, ‘Serial Child Molester’ Dennis Hastert Goes to Prison Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert reported to prison Wednesday to begin a 15-month sentence in a hush money case stemming from allegations that he sexually abused young boys, authorities said. Hastert, 74, entered the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, ...
Thanos
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 427 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 14 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 3
Comments: 0
: 4
Marco Rubio to Seek Re-Election to Florida Senate Seat It's a move so fully expected despite prior denials that it's almost not news. Marco Rubio will run for re-election for his Florida Senate seat, reversing his previous decision to leave Capitol Hill. Rubio, who ended his White House ...
Thanos
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 278 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Libertarian Utopia Kansas Borrows $900 Millionbigstory.ap.org Isn't it great how those Libertarian Tax Cuts, meant to stimulate the economy and realize more revenue, always work great? And by great, I mean really shitty. Very shitty. What an incompetent leadership, championing a well-debunked economic fantasy. Well ...
Rocky-in-Connecticut
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 563 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 58 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 7
Likes: 27
Comments: 4
: 38
Gun-Control Protest Sparks Chaotic Scenes in US Congress The protest comes in the wake of the recent shootings in Orlando, the deadliest in modern US history. Republicans adjourned the House early on Thursday to try to quash the sit-in, switching off the TV cameras. But about two ...
Thanos
1 day, 13 hours ago
Views: 432 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 14 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Likes: 0
Comments: 0
: 1