America First? (EP.82)


Does advocating for or even simply supporting America First mean that we are being appropriately patriotic, or does it mean that America must win not only our military wars, but trade wars, currency disputes and win every other time we brush up against another country or group of countries, e.g., NATO, the EU or the G7?


Does advocating for or even simply supporting America First mean that we are being appropriately patriotic, or does it mean that America must win not only our military wars, but trade wars, currency disputes and win every other time we brush up against another country or group of countries, e.g., NATO, the EU or the G7?

Here’s the answer: When we are playing zero sum games, where one side must win and the other side must lose, then it must always be America First. Fortunately, these types of “games”, e.g., wars and international contests like the soccer World Cup, are rare. And in the case of sports, not all that important. The zero sum name comes from simple arithmetic: when one side wins, they get a plus 1; the losing side gets a minus 1; the total, the sum, is zero. Hence the highly descriptive name, zero sum game.

Seeing everything as a series of zero sum games would be a terrible way of going through life. Imagine feeling that every time you have a disagreement with your spouse or a friend; that in order for you to win, they must lose. Or if every time you buy something from a store, it has to be a win for you, and a loss for that business. You want a raise or a promotion at work? Doesn’t the deal you strike with your employer need to be a win-win? Imagine what this process would be like if both sides saw it as a win-lose, zero-sum game. Famously, Stephen Covey promotes Habit # 4, win-win or no deal. That’s a must, a key, for any deal, transaction or interchange that is not inherently a zero sum game.

Today’s key point: In any event, deal or transaction, between individuals, businesses or countries, win-win or no deal is the standard. Win-win or no deal is the model for handling negotiations and for judging the outcome. And win-win means that both sides need to see their win; it does not mean that someone tells one side or the other they won and then tells them to be happy about it. The rare exceptions are events that dictate only one winner and one loser, e.g., wars or athletic contests.

While we are at it, let’s discard the antiquated notion that any compromise that makes both sides equally unhappy is a good one. All this philosophy does is evenly divide the misery. Conversely, win-win spreads the joy and benefit of winning.

As we unpack this together, the first question to ask is whether or not the negotiations, the event, we are looking at is a zero sum game. Let’s try some examples:

  • Increasing taxes on the half of tax filers who pay them to further redistribute wealth and income. There is no inherent need for one side to win and the other to lose. If that was the case, wouldn’t any redistribution be another major step closer toward outright civil war? If more redistribution is to be mandated, this has to be a win-win.
  • Tariffs. This had better be a win-win, or allies will be weakened or lost, and enemies will dig in further.
  • Immigration. This one cries out for the win-win standard. Don’t we need a win for the immigrants, and their new countries?
  • Minimum wage hike. Both employers and the employees need to see their wins here.
  • Relations with other countries, e.g., North Korea, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. If we see ourselves as being in a state of war with a country, either a cold war or a shooting war, then the zero sum game rules apply. And if they really do apply, then we must win or risk losing. And the only thing worse that being in a war is losing one.
  • Abortion. If there is any chance the entity in the womb is a live human, is there any possible win-win here? Remember, this is a moral question, not a legal one.
  • Healthcare. Before the Affordable Care Act, some 85% of Americans were more-or-less happy with their employment-based health insurance. Don’t we need a plan whereby both those who were formerly well-served, and those who previously were served only by ERs and the certain hospitals see their wins in any solution?

As our country slides toward more and more division, accelerating us vs. them thinking, naturally giving rise to a win-lose mentality, it is vital that we anchor, or re-anchor, ourselves in win-win or no deal thinking. And stick to it.

Settling for nothing but win-win solutions is hard. Necessary. And worth it. Win-lose solutions have a way of coming back to push the loser towards payback, and haunt the so-called winner. Win-lose solutions are inherently unstable. Win-lose solutions also lead to more win-lose solutions. Win-win solutions are hard to find, but then again life is hard. The rules for life in general, and win-win solutions in particular, are easy to understand, and very hard to implement. But needed and well with it in both cases.

Join with me in using what we know how to do–what we know we must do–to everyone’s advantage. Let’s seek win-win solutions in our everyday lives, and demand that our politicians and other leaders deliver win-win solutions to us, our communities and America. Remember, Revolution 2.0™ is coming. Please stand by…

Links and References

Zero Sum Games

Win-win or No Deal

Family Communism



As we get ready to wrap up, please do reach out with comments or questions about this podcast or anything that comes to mind.  You can email me at, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google, or Stitcher.


I publish two podcasts each week; mid-day on Tuesday and Friday. Every week. I am also considering doing these as videos on YouTube, and would love to get your thoughts.

Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; when people truly need a hand up and not a hand out, be there. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.

Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act.  And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.


Will Luden
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2 Responses

  1. James C Kuhn Reply

    We could take this out of the world of competition and drop the “win/lose” terms. I think adding “mutually beneficial” might serve negotiations well.

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