A short while back, I was in our nation's capitol. While I was there, I took advantage of the scenic trails on which I could go out and exert myself. As I was running up the side of a tree-lined creek, I came across a small park. At one end there was a slide and a jungle gym. At the other I found a basketball hoop. I found myself wishing that there was just a little more room to erect another one on the far end, creating a full basketball court. Then, I remembered all those games of half court basketball I played on driveways in my neighborhood as a kid.
Half court requires a lot of agreement and compromise. Everyone understands that there is only one basket, and if you want to score a point for your team, you have to take the ball behind a certain line. Then suddenly, where you had once played defense, you were suddenly on offense, and the goal you had sought to defend is the one in which you are now trying to score. Until the other team gets the ball back across that line, the basket is yours.
And that's pretty much how our democracy works. Two parties struggle for control of the basket, both of them understanding the rules of the game, trying to score points for their team, even though from the outside it all looks like the same game, and sometimes it's hard to remember whose ball it is. That's what that back-court line does. It makes it possible for two teams to share at the very same time they are competing: Same goal, different teams. Sometimes the teams distinguish themselves by having one team keep their shirts on and the other takes theirs off. Shirts and skins. Guess which team Anthony Weiner plays for.