I came up with a game the other night and tried it out on a couple of friends. It goes something like this:
If a scientist had time machine and allowed you to KILL one person in history and SAVE another person, who would you choose?
Who would you kill? Who would you save? And why? Bonus points for when?
Play as many rounds as you want.
I would kill Andrew Jackson, probably just after the Battle of New Orleans. He established the “strong president” precedent. He established the cabinet full of supporters instead of people who were best for the job. Also, he was a dick. Man had duels. Just killed people. For no reason! I just don't see him as having a good systemic effect on America.
I would save Robert F. Kennedy. I like him more than his brother, plus saving JFK seems it would have all sorts of unintended consequences that might be really bad. But RFK had a real good brain on his shoulders and would have been a real good and interesting president. Imagine if we had RFK instead of Nixon. On a personal note; my dad always gets kind of wistful when he talks about RFK. I think a lot of his hopes died with him.
I would kill Josef Stalin, at some point when he was Propaganda Minister. At first I was thinking I would save Trotsky, but he was already on the run in South America by the time Stalin got to him. It's much more efficient to kill Stalin and let Lenin's successor be Trotsky, because that would be some sweet ass shit. Trotsky would have continued Lenin's philosophy. He was a true intellectual revolutionary as opposed to Stalin who was just a thug.
I would save the guy who was gonna kill Hitler. So that Hitler would die and I would get two kills. Power game.
I would kill Woodrow Wilson. Because he layed the ground work for the modern presidency, that attempts to conceal dealings from the general populace. Also depending on the outcome of his presidential election will change America's interactions with the rest of the world including entry into world war I.
I would save Jesus of Nazareth. Thus saving him from martyrdom, shaking and uprooting the foundations of the catholic religion, perhaps limiting christianity to its original state under Jesus rather than the Roman Catholic Church of Peter. Changing the makeup of the northern European religious base so that it remained more or entirely pagan.
I suspect that future rounds of this game will involve specifying an historical period or geographic area, but I just wanted to see what people's responses are. Mainly I think this game (is this even a game?) is really good for stimulating intellectual conversations. It's a dialectical game, if I'm allowed to come up with labels. Conversations that stem from this usually involve discussions about unintended consequences and historical trends i.e. how much effect does one person really have.