On a basic level, we are currently experiencing a crisis of democracy.  We have a situation where a majority in 2012 voted in favor of a Democratic House, but gerrymandering helped deliver a Republican-tilted one. And that House has now shut down the government, conditioning it's reopening on the country accepting it's ideological agenda. Talk about ramming a policy down the public's throat!

Still, this House is currently claiming a mandate to achieve something that the majority of the country doesn't actually support.  So, how do we restore democracy and get out of this impasse?

I see one way: 18 sane Republicans could agree to work with the Democrats to pass things through the House, thereby becoming a new governing majority and marginalizing the problematic part of the House in the new minority. At the same time restoring control of the House to a coalition more similar to what the majority of the country voted for, giving such a move electoral and democratic credibility.

In exchange for the switch, the Democrats should agree to elect the new Speaker from the 18 or so who are willing to jump ship.  Allow these Reps to become "Independents" who caucus with the Dems if they can't bring themselves to switch to full on D. Yes, power-sharing arrangments will need to be worked out, perhaps committee heads need to change (and the 'normal' Democratic seniority order somewhat disrupted to accommodate it).  No doubt there'll be grumbles and glitches. But, that's a small price for us to pay for ending the crisis and saving the country, not to mention effectively dividing the Republican party and putting the country back in the control of the Democrats' coalition.    

Yes, the betrayed R's will scream bloody murder on Fox News and such. But, then everyone in the new coalition can claim to be The Bipartisan Coalition of Moderates that the Beltway has so salivated for, in contrast to the Republican extremist rump they will have left behind. At this point, I think they and the country will be well-prepared to believe them.

So, for Republican moderates, it is put up or shut up time. Any 18 of them have the power to be heroes, change the course of history, save the country, yada yada, and usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation with our national extremists politically isolated. They can restore the House to something more similar to what the country actually voted for.

The question, really, is whether there are 18 Republican moderates who are willing to jump ship and allow their current party to burn before the entire country is brought down with it. Are they yet tired enough of their colleagues' antics that they are willing to work with the Democrats to save the country and move it forward?

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