This is a tale of two football teams, the blue team and the red team. These teams are constantly playing ball, it never ends. The red team plays a clean game. Not perfect, but they try to play the game by the rules. But the blue team plays dirty. They’re constantly violating the rules of the game. Encroachment, false starts, holding, pass interference, grabbing facemasks… You name it, the blue team does it.
Now the officials, they love the blue team and hate the red team. So they seldom throw down a penalty flag for the blue team. Instead, the blue team tells the officials that the red team is committing penalties and officials throw down the flags for things the red team didn’t even do. Sometimes the officials throw down flags on the red team when the blue team actually did it.
Over time, the red team has learned they get the most penalties when they try to win, so they’ve essentially given up. Instead, if they think the blue team will win by forty points, they’ll try to limit it to thirty. They’ve found they won’t get penalties for that; in fact, they’ll even be praised for a game well played.
Then there are the fans. Both the red team and the blue team have fans that stick with them, no matter what. But there are a vast amount of low information fans out there, who end up liking the blue team. If you ask a low information fan what he thinks of the team, he’ll get a thoughtful look on his face that on the surface makes him look wise. He’ll say, “Well, that red team is always getting penalties, so I root for the blue team.”
Well, one day the red team got a new player, and he went all out trying to win. His name was Cruz. Cruz put everything he had into the game. Obviously, nobody had explained to him that wasn’t how the game is played. Predictably, Cruz was constantly buried in penalty flags, and the entire team was blamed. Not only did the blue team hate Cruz and fear him, many on the red team hated Cruz as well. They blamed Cruz for losing games for them. The fact they’d been losing along didn’t matter to them. They only cared what the officials and the low information fans thought. As long as they were praised for losing, all was well.