It’s not uncommon to hear people excuse the Democrat’s constant kowtowing to Republicans and essentially serving the interests of corporations and elites in the US by suggesting that it’s “pragmatic.” This was Obama’s argument the other day when he called progressives “sanctimonious” and “purist” for being infuriated by his pact with the Republicans on extending Bush Tax Cuts for the rich (a key campaign promise, remember all that “Joe the Plumber” nonsense?).
Obama says that progressives “will never get anything done” if we set goals that are substantively progressive because not everybody agrees with that position, so therefore, if you want to get something done you have to set your goals to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
This isn’t pragmatism. It’s stupid.
So while Obama covers his eyes and ears and holds on to his definition of “pragmatism,” his approval rating is crashing through the floor and his Presidency is universally regarded as a complete failure. However, on the heels of Obama giving progressives a time out, this happened and it was awesome:
My friend last night told me that she checked out Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page and was able to see it shoot up by 40,000 fans in the last hour or so of work. What people want to see is somebody who fights for them, not somebody who takes uncontroversial positions that appeal to everyone.
Sanders’ is also a self described socialist, and his swell in support should further suggest that the Left should embrace the infamous S-word.
What I really want to draw out is the assumption that moderate or centrist positions are somehow “pragmatic.” To win, you need energetic support and a growing base. What this instance shows us is that people get excited when they see somebody fighting for them. Centrist politics is not how you build power. They’re how you play the beltway game and that game is stupid and boring and doesn’t lead to victories, it just leads to careers.