The late death of democratic “pragmatism”



And yet, in the midst of the party’s decisive shift to the left, pragmatism once again threatens to stifle ambitious new policies in the nursery. “Do I think we could cross all the “t’s” and point all the “i’s” in 10 years? Klobuchar said when asked about the Green New Deal. “In fact, I think it would be very difficult to do.” Such prudence inspires representations of her as an outspoken politician who doesn’t bow, a progressive who doesn’t let the perfect be the enemy of good – a doer, not a dreamer. But one person’s realism is another person’s myopia: what is possible tomorrow is shaped by what is attempted today, as impossible as the odds seem.

Pragmatism is as much a political strategy as it is a legislative one. Most voters are realists, not fanatics, it is said; by embracing pragmatism, presidential candidates like Klobuchar can win this silent majority. It is easy to see the appeal of such an approach at this political time. The poll has show that Democratic voters are eager to elect whoever can defeat Trump and would rather the party nominate the candidate with the best chance of defeating him. Some claim that the best of these candidates, given the the extremism of the president, would be a centrist pragmatist.

“Despite all the talk that ‘all the energy is on the left’, progressive populism and democratic socialism were disappointing in the primaries and were on the verge of being left out in a competitive general election,” Jim Kessler and Lanae Erickson of the Third Way think tank, argued after the mid-sessions of last year. “The real energy of the midterm vote mainly propelled mainstream Democrats who closely matched their purple and red districts or states … Presidential candidates shouldn’t confuse this with a call to the far left with populist rhetoric and a democratic socialist agenda. “

It is true that most voters do not fall into tidy ideological boxes. As Lee Drutman found in 2017, most social and racial conservatives hold liberal economic views, while liberals, unlike much of the report on the division between Sanders and Clinton supporters, agreed on economic issues. In addition, as new York Eric Levitz of the magazine wrote in 2017, “people generally vote on the basis of the candidate or party they identify with, that is, the one that seems to best represent people like them”. This usually favors the political party pushing for more and more affordable health care, but it also means that it doesn’t make political sense to put bumpers on hypothetical policies, which puts the brakes on it. enthusiasm of voters.


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