June 10th, 2016

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Our Political Pavane

A few more observations for my fellow Dems on what I call "the Dance of the Adults" for my SCA friends.

Like many dances descended the English Inns of Court and Elizabethan Parliamentary times, the Dance of Adults begins as a stately pavane then evolves into a spirited corranto. The pavane has many mandatory figures designed to show off the grace, elegance and pomp of the most important players, who lead the procession. By contrast, the corranto is designed to show off one's energy and strength. The pavane is carefully choreographed, whereas the corranto is more improvisational. During the pavane stage, we will see all partners working in harmony. As the music picks up the pace and transitions, we will see partners begin to separate into their individual improvisational steps. This is where you will see the true partners work together, whereas the rivals will increasingly try to separate out for their own individual improvisations. As always, there is a danger that -- as the music picks up the tempo and dancers become less coordinated with each other -- accidents will occur (or worse, some dancer may deliberately try to trip a rival).

What distinguishes a skilled Master of Revels is the ability to detect such potential problems and diffuse them quickly and quietly by varying the tempo, using more skilled dancers to help the less skilled keep time, and discretely sidelining the odd troublemaker who will not otherwise contain him or herself.

As always, there will be critics carping on the sideline who think the pace is too slow, too quick, or who simply like to smirk and spread gossip. Sometimes the chatter from the sides is so loud it threatens to drown out the musicians. A skilled Master of Revels, however, knows to ignore the carping critics and stay focused on bringing the dance to conclude with a gracious reverance.

For Bujold fans., It's the dance at the Emperor's birthday. And yes, as someone noted when I made a similar analogy previously, this is the last generation that will dance this particular dance by this particular set of rules.
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To Emphasize the last point . . .

Please observe the very carefully choreographed way the roll outs of the last week or so have occurred.

1. Clinton wins primaries, makes stately address praising Sanders and his campaign and inviting them to join in fight to build better America and defeat The Evil Donald. Many other Dem luminaries likewise make comments.

2. Sanders gives uplifiting speech vowing to not drop out until after D.C. primary (thus keeping his word to stay in until the end). While he is in town for a rally, he asks for a meeting with President Obama.

3. Please note that Obama, the President, and Pelosi, the ranking Dem in the Legislative Branch, have carefully withheld an endorsement all campaign. Likewise, Elizabeth Warren, the de facto head of the "Progressive Wing," has refrained from endorsing a candidate. Likewise Joe Biden, who is Vice President, has refrained from endorsing a candidate.

4. Please also note that Sanders asked for the meeting with Obama. Also note that since he will be in town anyway to attend a campaign event, this is not a surrender. It is a meeting that conveys respect and dignity by treating Sanders as a welcome member of the Democratic "family" and not as someone either suing for terms or being summoned to do obessiances.

5. Sanders and Obama emerge from meeting all smiles and cordiality. Everyone praises each other. Sanders makes it clear he will work with the party to defeat Trump in the fall, While he does not officially quit or endorse Hillary, he no longer talks about himself as the "best qualified" to beat Trump. There is no mention of a fight at the convention. There is lot of talk about shared goals and ideals.

Why no endorsement of Hillary/ending of the race? First, Sanders is keeping his word to his supporters to "fight on to the end." it would be particularly bad if he disenfranchised Washington D.C., which is the most disenfranchised jurisdiction in the U.S. owing to the Constitution not givng them representation. But citizens in Washington DO get to vote for POTUS. So it would be cruel (and a barb in the hands of Sanders' enemies -- of which there are still many), for him to quit on the even of the D.C. Primary.

Nevertheless, because it is clear that we are now focused on bringing the party together, it is time for the Party Royalty who have so far been properly neutral to embrace the winner of Crown Tourney and start the process of annointing the royal heir. Please note the Order of Precedence for endorsement.

POTUS (Head of Executive Branch, leader of the party)

Ranking Member of the House (Head of Government In Exile of the Legislative Branch)

Just about simultaneous: Joe Biden (VP) and Warren (de facto head of the progressive wing).

Do you think things just happen to work out that way? i make this point especially about Biden. Some folks have speculated Biden's decision not to endorse Clinton was bitterness on his opting not to run. In fact, it is a matter of precedence, and one where Biden has been taken to the woodshed before for failure to observe proper presedence (remember how annoyed Obama was when Biden announced his thumbs up on same sex marriage before Obama did).

6. But also note that Sanders still has an out if the promised terms don't work out. We are on a glide path to a big reveal and successful convention in Philly, especially in contrast to what looks like a growing disaster for Republicans in Cleveland. Additionally, all the swirling expectation of bitter resistance from Sanders keeps the tension up for the big reveal in Philly. This, in turn, puts pressure on all the negotiators to make things come out right and not hold out on personal agendas.

Played right, the platform is a symbol of compromise, unity and statesmanship accepted by acclaim with all sides claiming victory. And all sides will be right. Politics at its best is NOT a zero sum game where one side emerges triumphant and the other emerges bitter and angry. At its best, politics is the way in which we develop a consensus as a society of our values and how we intend to implement them through our government. "And to secure these rights, men create governments, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Of course, the platform and unity themselves are preludes to implementation post victory. There is a difference between unity as a political party around broad goals and values and the nuts and bolats of governance. That is why we can expect much scrambling around who will be at the center, so as to position themselves for the post-election government.

And as an example, we now see Debbie Wasserman Schultz rising to defend the CFPB regulation of payday lenders against an amendment on the appropriations bill offered by a Republican colleague. A token of good faith that, in exchange for likely keeping her job (at least through November), she will behave herself publicly and embrace the new consensus. (Note DWS did not actually embrace the rule substance, but not using approps to short circuit the rulemaking process. A fine nuance tha those of us who dance the political pavane apprecaite.)