In high school, I visited a local hospital each Friday evening with other volunteers to play bingo, soccer, and other games with the mental health patients. In bingo, players would become confused and angry when the numbers on their cards were not called, and they'd sometimes demand that I go and hit the person calling them. Likewise, on the soccer field, patients would cry "foul!" when an opponent took the ball from them or scored a goal. They didn't understand what was going on, and they'd sometimes get cross about it.

They could, of course, be forgiven for not understanding how the games were played. But such indulgence is harder to grant Democrats in Washington as they vituperate about the political game not going their way. They display a remarkable inability to understand the process, or at least a complete indifference to it.

This was most recently apparent in their reaction to the collapse of plans for another unnecessary spending splurge. After Sen. Joe Manchin declared decisively on Fox News Sunday that he would not support President Joe Biden's agenda as articulated in the Build Back Better Act, the Left, including the lefties in the White House, exploded with rage.

The White House issued a statement essentially calling Manchin a liar, saying he had been inconsistent and negotiated in bad faith. In truth, he's been saying the same thing over and over again for months: that he would oppose yet more spending above $1.5-1.75 trillion, would reject accounting gimmicks that concealed the true cost of about $5 trillion, and worried that the legislation would add massively to our national debt and stoke already out-of-control inflation.

Biden's negotiators met none of these concerns, yet they are now shocked that the senator refuses to be bullied. And they plan some more bullying in January, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying he'll bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. He still hopes to shame Manchin into surrender.

But perhaps more telling than Democratic anger and vitriol is their apparently genuine misunderstanding of how our republic works. Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York was reported in the Washington Post as saying, "Why do we have to acquiesce to what members of another party think we should be doing, what so called moderates think we should be doing?"

To which there are several answers.

First, you are not acquiescing to what "members of another party" are saying; you are being defeated by a bipartisan majority in the Senate, made up of at least one member of your own party — there could well be others — and the entire Republican caucus. They disagree with you. That's how democracy works: The majority decides.

Second, the pertinent question to ask is not about acquiescing to what a centrist says but, rather, how you make the compromises necessary to turn the minority that supports your proposal into a majority needed to pass it. How do you win opponents over? They are under no moral or other obligation to agree with you, no matter how passionately you hold your views.

Democrats' response to Manchin sticking to his guns reveals also that it is they who have negotiated in bad faith, not him. They have treated the back and forth as though it would end in a foregone conclusion: After much hemming and hawing, the senator from West Virginia would back the bill. Their high dudgeon upon learning that this was not so, that negotiations would not end in their opponent's capitulation, suggests that they were never seriously trying to accommodate him.

Negotiations are like elections or sports — if you know the result before they're over, then they are rigged, faked, a sham. If you're utterly shocked that you lost, you didn't really believe in the process.

And that brings us back to a key point about today's Left and its party in Congress. They don't understand that democracy is a process of arriving at decisions. It is not the content of those decisions. The Democratic Party is in the grip of radicals who regard process as a frustrating irrelevance obstructing the path to their goal. Compromise isn't something that revolutionaries do. They're increasingly concerned only with exercising raw power rather than with governing by consent.

You can see that plainly in their threats to pack the Supreme Court and to add extra Democratic states (the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) to the Senate to give themselves a built-in majority. When the court slaps down left-wing overreach, Democrats don't adapt their policy to the Constitution or statute; they demand that the court be gerrymandered to waive proper limits. When they cannot persuade a majority in the Senate to back their legislative proposals, they ponder how they can put a thumb on the scales by padding their caucus with new senators.

They cry foul when they lose the ball, and they want to hit Manchin for not coming up with the numbers that were on their card.