Democracy requires unsavory alliances and unpleasant compromises. It’s messy and often unfair. There are many obstacles that tip the playing field: money in campaigns, the power of special interests, partisan redistricting, the Senate’s undemocratic structure. But working to fix those problems, where possible, is a better option than letting divisions grow even larger. And it doesn’t require Americans or their elected representatives to betray their principles. if you’re a politician, fight hard for the best deals you can get. If you’re a citizen, then persuade others, register voters, turn out bodies on election day, battle for control of Congress. Wave banners in the streets, shout slogans and name names. None of that is at odds with a working democracy. But democratic institutions cannot function if we don’t listen, cooperate, play by the rules and recognize the humanity of those who disagree with us.