After a week of deep thought, Washington has reluctantly decided to let Alabama residents pick their own senator.
It wasn't clear it would end this way. Faced with the prospect of losing a Senate seat, Republicans sprang into action and started dreaming up all sorts of plans to keep Alabama from electing Judge Roy Moore.
Maybe Sen. Luther Strange could resign and Alabama's governor could reappoint him. Maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions could somehow win his old seat back. Maybe the governor could delay the race until Republicans come up with better plans.
Each scheme reeked of central planning. Washington knows best. We can't leave this to Alabama. We must intrude with our wisdom.
This isn't a defense of Roy Moore, a man who seems increasingly likely to have a few skeletons in his closet. This is about a national party believing it can control everything, right down to who people should be allowed to pick when they go out to vote for a senator.
It's not just a Republican thing. The sentiments behind the GOP's actions aren't all that different from those that drove the Democratic National Committee to rig the game for Hillary Clinton.
Welcome to Washington-think: We must control everything, and we know best who should govern.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell floated the idea of getting Jeff Sessions back in the Senate, he admitted it was all about the party keeping the seat. The game, apparently, is to keep the GOP's commanding 52-48 majority from slipping into a much more tenuous 51-49 majority.
"I'd like to save the seat, and it's a heck of dilemma when you've got a completely unacceptable candidate bearing the label of your party within a month of the election," McConnell said. "It's a very tough situation."
Tell that to Alabama's nearly 5 million people, who were at risk for a few days of an end-run by All The Smart People in Washington, whose first instincts were to stack the deck.
But the talk quickly died down, and by Thursday, it was becoming clear that maybe the best idea was to — gasp — pretend it's like any other election and let voters decide what to do with the allegations that Moore has a history of sexual harassment and assault. Republicans weren't quite saying that, but others were saying it for them.
Fox News host Sean Hannity first tried to control the mess by offering an ultimatum to Moore to come clean in 24 hours. But on Wednesday, he agreed the best course is to let voters decide.
"I am very confident that when everything comes out, they will make the best decision for their state," he said. "It shouldn't be decided by me, by people on television, by Mitch McConnell, Washington, talk show hosts, news people."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who shudders at the thought of serving with Sen. Roy Moore, agreed.
"Let's let them make their decision first on what will happen," she said of Alabama voters.
President Trump also helped shut down the fantasy of trying to engineer an outcome from Washington. The White House made it clear Thursday he would not be swooping in to influence the election, as many Republicans had hoped.
"The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Thursday.
An oft-cited wisdom in Washington is, "this too shall pass." But too often, that conclusion is the final stage of acceptance that's reached after days and weeks of freaking out.
Relax, Washington. This decision is being crowdsourced, otherwise known as "voting." Let Alabama send whomever it wants to the Senate.
You can have your way with him when he gets here.