The best choice for both of them is to cooperate. But if both focus on the outcome that benefits them the most - betraying the other to go free - they still end up worse off.
This is called the "collective action" problem - "a circumstance in which cooperation yields the best outcome, and antagonism yields a second-best result," Sallet said.
He argued the hyperpartisan divide has produced a massive collective action problem for the country with "powerful incentives for political leaders to choose the path of disagreement and non-cooperation, embracing 'second-best' outcomes."
Sallet said this kind of approach appeals to "extreme partisans." If the opposing party supports something, it's in an extreme partisan's best interest to rail against how wrong that position is.
"Given the structure of partisan and primary politics, that is often the surest path to re-nomination and election, especially in one-party legislative districts," Sallet said. "It can also be the best way to raise money and profile."
A Cornell University Economics and Sociology course blog also picked up on Sallet's piece.
"With this incentive structure, it's no wonder that we have a dysfunctional political system that focuses more on personal attacks than legislative agendas," the Cornell blog said.
Perhaps Dr. Nash could draw us up a better solution?