Government of the Voters

The latest special election, in Pennsylvania’s 18th (a vanishing district that will not exist for the midterms this November), was exceedingly close. Anybody would expect that someone elected to represent such a district would take that lesson to heart and respect that the voters want someone pretty middling. Same goes for the 2016 election and the presidency.

The number one political threat is that we can’t seem to recognize the meaning of elections. They aren’t sporting events. To the victor belongs the spoils, but to the nation belongs the nation.

To put it another way, if you and a group of humans were trying to decide what to spend communal money on, about half of you wanting a sewing machine and the other half wanting a rowboat, upon voting and realizing how evenly divided you were, you might opt to get a portable color television set, instead.

America deserves a portable color television set, God damn it. We’re long past the time when to get it, never mind that analog signals no longer exist and people can stream video on their compacts and the underside of the brims of their baseball caps. Compromise.

The main impediment to compromise is the same thing that keeps these elections so close: both sides want their choice. Politicians fear that compromise will break their voters’ hearts, and they will be scorned for it. They will lose their precious seats at the table where nothing useful gets done. But in striking real deals (and not the president’s two-for-me-none-for-you schemes), some of them will be spared. The ones that are capable of actual governance will generally get reelected. Moderates and Democrats will vote for Republicans that are willing to admit to reality, and moderates and Republicans will vote for Democrats that don’t demand the cosmos.

Now, leadership is a problem. McConnell and Ryan are not willing to allow for compromise. The president calls for it, then lists his demands and then backtracks and changes them and then gives up and blames Obama. The first step toward compromise in the Congress must be to change leadership. It must be to recognize the pluralist majority is stronger than either party.

But sooner or later, America will have its portable color TV, whether Trump, McConnell, Ryan, the Russian Federation, or anybody else agrees or not. We want it, we deserve it, we can afford it, and we will have it.