The Political Machine 2020 #2: Evil ideologies

Published on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 By Brad Wardell In TPM Journals

The biggest, most game changing feature of The Political Machine 2020 are the ideology trees.  Each candidate can have their own ideology tree which makes Bernie Sanders play quite a bit differently than say Joe Biden.

For today's entry, I am going to try out making a custom candidate and choose the Fascism ideology. 

I'm going to loosely base him off of one of my favorite villains of Stephen King's book, The Dead Zone.

We include a bunch of ideologies with the game.  They're pretty easy to make your own.  In short, an ideology is a list of key issues that candidate can get behind during the campaign.  I'll show you here how they work and how they can affect the game.

I'm going to have him go up against Bernie Sanders.  Let's see how he does...

He has early support from his home state of Maine.

By attending a town hall, he picks up some ideology points which he can now spend to begin developing his platform.

Ideologies tend to have multiple heads to them.  Trying to go down a new path gets very expensive while, by contrast, the more extreme you get on an existing ideological branch the cheaper it gets.  It is very tempting to pick "crazy" stuff.

Here, we have Nationalism, a Stronger Federal Government and Socialized capitalism.  None of these seem too crazy...

Let's pick nationalism.  This unlocks two new ideology issues: A strong military and stronger law enforcement.  See, nothing evil so far...

I've even been invited onto Good Day America!

So far, Stilson is doing pretty well.

He has also looking at supporting the concept of preemptive war..

Which lets him unveil his next platform:

A united North America!

This is where things start to go badly for Stilson.

That's because the idea of conquering north america is, as you can imagine, not a widely supported position.


This is a phenomenon that exists in the real world.  Most savvy politicians don't advertise some of their more controversial positions.  The challenge is to see if you can still win even if you have a horrible, horrible paltform.

But it's a very delicate balance because you can't win the game simply because most people agree with you on the issues.  One only has to look at the primaries to see that many candidates have perfectly fine platforms and positions.  What they lack is enthusiasm.

The ideology tree has the effect of getting people enthusiastic and setting your position on a given issue.  Ideally, it's an issue that won't increase the enthusiasm of your opponent's supporters too.

So our evil candidate blandly supports protecting social security and hopefully, the whole "let's conquer Canada" thing will be treated as a joke or a gaffe...

Same for advertising:

The North America crazy position got people talking about your candidacy (not in a good way). But now you can take out ads talking about something generic like "Good jobs".  Everyone supports that.  But mind you, people are still talking about the crazy positions you took.

Having fallen behind in the polls (due to the continued "he wants to invade Canada thing") we attend enough town halls to get another ideology.  

The fascist platform hinges on disarming the population.  The problem here is that we have Stilson running as a Reepublican so this will really hurt him with them.  Let's see what happens.

It unlocks a new ideology:

OOnce you disarm the population, it's now time to start getting rid of the wrong people... But it probably would not be a good idea to publicly promote that position if you want to win.

Unfortunately, the mandatory gun buy back position just put Kentucky and North Carolina into play as few RRepublicans will come out and vote for someone promising to disarm them.

As we head into election day, Stilson is now 6 points behind.

Now I'm playing dirty.


I'm bringing in political operatives to misrepresent my positions and those of my opponents.  

Despite our slimiest efforts, as we approach election day, Stilson is 7 points behind.  It is not looking promising.

Let's see what happens.

We lose. Badly.

These polls are an exaggeration of real world polls.   On the issue of United North America, everyone who answered our survey said those who thought this was an important issue voted for Bernie.

Same for Mandatory gun buy back.  Those who believed this was an important issue voted for Bernie as well.

Interesting result:

Stillson did get Wisconsin. This was more of a voter turn out issue.  Even the AI running the Democratic candidate fails to visit enough thus, even though they like Sanders, the enthusiasm wasn't sufficient to get people to go out and vote.

Lessons learned

So what is the lesson?  If you're going to run as a fascist, keep your crazier plans to yourself. Just like real politicians.