A few days after last year's presidential election, Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect, attended a Broadway production of the musical "Hamilton."
The boos he heard from the audience, he said afterward, were merely "what freedom sounds like."
His response was appropriate because freedom is kind of messy, especially in a nation with such a broad range of religious, gender and political viewpoints that often collide on a minute-by-minute basis.
We Americans are very parochial beings. From our political points of view to our religious traditions and our community pride, we decide what tribe we belong to and protect it when we feel it is threatened.
Democracy, like freedom, also is messy. So is governing — something President Donald J. Trump should have pointed out frequently as he worked with Congress to reform America's healthcare system.
The battle for ultimate control of the bill was always going to be tribal: Republicans were split between the "Hell No" crowd (the Freedom Caucus) and moderates, while Democrats were unwilling even to look at any proposal.
A presidential statement such as "Hey America, this is what democracy looks like, not marching in the streets just to march, but doing the hard work of negotiating with Congress. And oh, by the way, this is part of what makes us great" would have been a great reminder that, yes, governing is hard but that this is what you sent him to Washington to accomplish, and ultimately it will be worthwhile.
In other words, Trump needs to remind people — with the same bravado that took him to the White House — that getting bills passed isn't going to be easy but that that does not mean it eventually won't get done.
What the healthcare debacle did do for Trump was to hinder the notion from the left, the resistance movement and the press that he's a ruthless dictator who will turn our county into Soviet-era Russia. After all, if you cannot control your own party, you certainly are not going to rule the country with an iron fist.
There is a lot of hypocrisy in complaining that Trump is both dictatorial and ineffectual.
It's been four months since the November election, yet in many ways the news media has failed to move on to other stories because it didn't get that story right.
That's a drag that has pulled both it and the Trump administration into political quicksand, making it impossible for anyone to move forward because both entities are trying to correct the other.
A lot of people who are trying to understand why people voted for Trump believe that those voters did not care if he was competent or not and were going to vote for him because they were voting against America's elites.
This is only partially true. There were negative and positive elements to their votes; they were excited by Trump not only because he appeared to like them and offered to be their champion but also because they thought he was skilled. Just look at Trump Tower, the plane and the role he played on his reality television show.
In addition, they are suffering under Obamacare's insurance premiums. (Yes, they really are.)
But, if they start to believe Trump is in over his head, they might turn on him — something that has not happened yet, but there is always that danger.
Regarding healthcare, Trump shouldn't give up.
The biggest problem for people is the cost, not the insurance provisions. Focus on that first, and point out that any reform will reduce the entitlement problem; convene a special panel with someone like Toby Cosgrove from Cleveland Clinic as its chairman, give them six months to produce results and promise to support its recommendations (unlike what former President Barack Obama did with his budget commission). And then move on to taxes.
If he starts with reducing corporate income tax rates, eliminates deductions to win Democrats' votes and drops border adjustments for now (too complicated for the quick, bipartisan victory he needs), then the markets will soar and he can go back to using his popularity and the special panel to truly reform healthcare.
This presidency is in its infancy; this populism is not. It is not the beginning nor the end of it, and, in all likelihood, it will continue for a very long time. Our world is changing in technological terms, more rapidly and drastically than our values, traditions and economic stability can keep up with.
Despite the drama of the healthcare vote, the president has not lost the base of supporters who put him into office. As Todd said, we are stuck at midnight on November 8; yes, he can lose them, but he hasn't yet.
It's nothing that a broader staff and a realization of limitations and how to work within those can't fix.
And, of course, Trump needs the self-awareness and discipline to do that.
The president gave us a peek at that willingness last week, when he hosted a bipartisan dinner for members of the U.S. Senate in the White House. His nod to his Democratic rivals was the first step toward getting policies in place, such as reforming healthcare. It was the right tone — acknowledging that it is complicated and tough — as well as politically smart.
Going after the Freedom Caucus one day later, also smart.
Why? It is Trump's unique pivot of persuasion and one of the things that his supporters love about him.
In Freedom Caucus districts he is the only person those House members are afraid of. No one else can scare them, certainly not Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
The only thing they fear is a primary, and the president is the one person who could do that.
Should he continue to have them over for bowling? Yes. But he should also continue to hammer them on social media and specifically in local newspapers and on local talk radio.
Complaining about them to the Washington Post means nothing to these members. Go in their districts, though, and he can make them bend.
That is what his voters are looking for, and that is what will keep them on his side, because they know that is what democracy looks like.
Salena Zito is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.