The Art of the Possible

After any big ruction or realignment comes the big question: just how permanent are the unfamiliar contours of the new landscape?

There’s no question that the ground has shifted, or that shifted ground doesn’t return precisely to where it was before.

But we can very, very clear about a few things:

  • What are the table stakes now? Not the Chicken Little stakes, but the ones that you could reasonably assert from the evidence available? (Yes, these will still be assertions, but there’s a big and meaningful difference between “If a, based on b and c, then d” and “If Z, then the end of the world!”
  • What’s the purpose of an election? (There’s a range of answers here, but the important one is to win. Winning allows you to reset the stakes, not the other way round.)
  • Who’s persuadable, and how can they be reached and persuaded? (That’s how you win: you reach and persuade the people who can be persuaded — with assertions and a narrative that will persuade them. A deluge of facts hasn’t stopped smoking, hasn’t stopped sugar, and hasn’t stopped carbon … how much do you want to bet today’s table stakes on another mountain of facts?)

This is complex and challenging work on many levels, but it’s the art of the art of the possible.

First the narrative, then the contest, and then the prize: the even tougher challenge of governing everybody after appealing to a lot less than everybody.