Skip to main content

A pragmatist is one who tries to find consensus so that things get done. In other words, they see both sides of the issues and have empathy for both sides.  

They are the mediators and arbitrators of this world.   Even though they have their own passions, they find ways to deal with the reality of the world. They get very little credit, are not always popular, frequently blamed by both sides, but they get s#@t done despite the passionate supporters of opposing sides.  

Here is an excellent example of getting things done:
Michael Pollan on the food safety bill on

But they managed a compromise?

Tester made some changes. The 400-mile radius struck a lot of people as very large. You could be near the Mexico border and sell in Los Angeles. But 400 miles is apparently an official USDA definition of local. So Tester shrank it to 275 miles and made some other tweaks to satisfy the consumer groups. So now the small and local food advocates and the consumer groups are together on this, and the Tester amendment will be in the managers amendment, which means it won't require a separate vote.

I think, its agreed upon, everyone has the right to express their opinion. And there is nothing wrong with being a passionate supporter. But when you start attacking someone who has another opinion, you shut down the conversation and conflate the disagreement.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing.

You have every right to fight for your positions, but when you get to attacking each other, or attacking others who acknowledge the time when compromise is necessary, you wind up killing your own causes. Progressives need to work together, not attack each other. Please don't lose sight of the main progressive core issues. Thank you.

We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day!

Here is a pleasant reminder:

Originally posted to TBug on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:33 PM PST.


Compromise is

35%17 votes
8%4 votes
8%4 votes
47%23 votes

| 48 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Have you your flame proof undies on? (4+ / 0-)

    This may be messy.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:36:52 PM PST

  •  I don't think that the argument is whether (17+ / 0-)

    or not to compromise, I think its more about when to compromise, and if you do compromise, the posture you take during the negotiation process.

    You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

    by rexymeteorite on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:44:43 PM PST

  •  Pragmatism is so not the issue. Direction and (10+ / 0-)

    leadership are.

    I can tie both my shoes together with one lace.  Saves time and money. Very pragmatic - until I stand up.

    "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

    by Terra Mystica on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:47:18 PM PST

  •  Pragmatism is like Chicken McNuggets. (11+ / 0-)

    Ignore the real meat, substitute ground up garbage instead.

    Getting things done is fine, if it's the right things. What many of the self-appointed arbiters of pragmatism do has more in common with Dr Pangloss' pronouncements than effective governance.

    The real enemy of the good is not the perfect, but the mediocre.

    by Orange County Liberal on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:48:20 PM PST

  •  We need all - pragmatists, idealists and (10+ / 0-)

    Yes, even idealogues. Each plays a role in getting change done. Ghandi and MLK were essential. So was LBJ and JFK. Malcolm X played a constructive role as well as the "scary" alternative to MLK. All were important and all of these personality types remain important.

    But right now, I think we need a fiery idealist more than a pedantic pragmatist to lead our party.

    You are, of course, entitled to disagree.

    If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

    by AndyT on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:49:45 PM PST

    •  Politically... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Philoguy, IL JimP, CuriousBoston

      the most pragmatic thing to do would have been to skip the health care fight altogether, but Barack Obama and his crazy idealism would not let that happen.

      •  No, it would be to take on HCR (0+ / 0-)

        Neutralize the most controversial issues (public option) and pass a minimal bill which insured the powers-that-be don't get too unhappy.

        If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

        by AndyT on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:57:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you really think the healthcare lukewarm (5+ / 0-)

        efforts were idealism?  I don't.  I think Obama knew how healthcare costs were but one leg of the economy.  He was right, but he forgot what he knew during whatever negotiations took place.

        For instance, the Obama and Democratic tax cut from the stimulus last year merely paid for the healthcare premium increase from 2009 to 2010.  For some family members, getting no pay increase in 2010 but getting a healthcare premium increase, their weekly take-home paycheck in January 2010 was decreased.  But in the spring when the stimulus was passed, the extra money added to their paycheck from the stimulus generally equaled the healthcare premium increase from 2009, thus leaving them with a weekly paycheck similar to 2009, within a few dollars.  And with utilities and other things increasing in price, that tax cut only made health insurance companies richer and never flowed into the general economy.

        So I believe Obama was right about making healthcare reform a priority, but instead he chose healthcare insurance regulation.  Such a shame.

        If people who voted for Republicans didn't notice their Obama/Pelosi/Reid tax cuts last year, then they won't notice when the Bush tax cuts expire.

        by gooderservice on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:08:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And the most pragmatic solution to the problem (10+ / 0-)

        of healthcare in the areas of both cost and access in this country would have been to skip the middlemen altogether.

      •  "Crazy Idealism"???? wow. (0+ / 0-)

        Yup, that Obama, he's a real firebrand, a real moderate republican firebrand.

        Corporate PACs, not just bribery but a lifestyle!

        by rubine on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:45:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's crazy idealism (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to believe that a party that publicly says that it seeks permanent majorities, that calls you a socialist, a muslim, non-american and equates you with hitler is interested in compromise.  There's nothing pragmatic or realist in such a stance.

    •  Well said. nt (3+ / 0-)

      "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

      by Terra Mystica on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:53:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bingo, (0+ / 0-)

      There are some fights where you HAVE to take sides.  The civil rights struggles of the sixties are an example.  Likewise, compromise only works when your opposition is honest and genuinely want to solve a problem.  This is not the case with contemporary republicans.  When you make compromise in these situations you just look like a weak fool that lacks the strength to promote the interests of voters.  Non-pragmatic pragmatists need to learn that the conservatives aren't out to solve problems but win power by all means necessary and available.

  •  It is a bit confusing... (10+ / 0-)

    because if moderate senators were more pragmatic and willing to compromise, we'd have passed a bill with a public option.  Yet the definition of pragmatism that is commonly used is the Left cedes to the wishes of the center and the Right.

  •  If it makes you feel any better, wingnut (3+ / 0-)

    libertarians hate pragmatists too.

    My problem with pragmatists and with "the righteous principled" is that they are both pre-programmed.  

    Pragmatism is something that should be practiced on a case by case basis and only when standing on principle has worse consequences than the pragmatism does.  Of course that in itself is a judgement call, so the pragmatist is never in short supply of condemnation.

    Example:  A great principle is to never tell a lie.  Standing on that principle, however, is not worth the loss of human life, for example.

    That's an extreme example, but you get the point.

    The community of fools might be small if it were not such an accomplished proselytizer.

    by ZedMont on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:50:54 PM PST

    •  I consider myself a pragmatist. (0+ / 0-)

      If you insist I'm programmed, we have a strong disagreement. I'll put a label on myself, your label I reject. Generalizations are null.

      •  You're wise to reject someone else's label (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for you.  I'm generally a pragmatist as well.  I'm talking about someone who always compromises, the antithesis of always standing on principle.  If you think I was labelling you, I didn't make that clear.

        However, if you fit that description and still insist the label doesn't apply, then I will have to defer to you as the final judge on that, pragmatically speaking.  lol

        The community of fools might be small if it were not such an accomplished proselytizer.

        by ZedMont on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:40:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Always compromises, absolutely not. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZedMont, TBug

          I'll be pragmatic on a number of issues. Others, I will
          be an expletive pain in the tuckus to anyone that is in the way. I'll get my "just do it my way, and everything will be peachy attitude".

          Just involves a lot of persistence, the ability to filter out the word, NO.

          Example: I got an apology letter from a MD specialist, on letterhead.

          Congress critters report to us. They need to be gently reminded of this from time to time. At least once a week. President Obama is dealing with a pack of wolves. He needs a pitbull. I think Grayson would make a fine pitbull.

  •  And there's a difference between principled, (3+ / 0-)

    constructive compromise (i.e. the best points from each side), and mush compromise (i.e. acquiescence to get something done for getting something done's sake).

    The Tester example is probably an example of the former.

    "Dega dega dega dega. Break up the concrete..." The Pretenders

    by Terra Mystica on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:52:28 PM PST

  •  I tend to agree with what you're saying, but (0+ / 0-)

    I agree with rexymeteorite above that the real issue is when to compromise.  Personally, I'm willing to forgive Obama for giving up the public option, because I think the health care bill was a major step in the right direction.  I'll be less forgiving if he caves and signs an extension of all the Bush tax cuts.  Compromise is necessary, but we can't compromise our principles away entirely.

    As much as progressives complain about Obama's "centrism" and compromise, the same critique was applied to Reagan by hard-core right-wingers...and if you go back even further, to FDR by socialists.  Years down the road, I think Obama will have gone down in history as a hugely progressive President - right up there with FDR and LBJ (minus Vietnam, of course).

    Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy destroying the sanctity of marriage and eroding the moral fabric of society.

    by Chrislove on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 02:55:35 PM PST

    •  Well this may need to be tweaked: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, BentLiberal, cybrestrike

      Years down the road, I think Obama will have gone down in history as a hugely progressive President - right up there with FDR and LBJ (minus Vietnam, of course).

      to include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen...If the new proposed AUMF is approved for a roving commission on the war on terror, you can add the rest of the Middle East and S.E. Asia as well.

      Viet Nam may well be one of the few places he doesn't end up going, so your point is accurate in a sense.

      •  It was meant to be in reference (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to LBJ, whose enormous domestic accomplishments are often overshadowed (understandably so) by the shame of Vietnam.

        And I'm referring exclusively to domestic policy.  I'm mostly opposed to the direction that President Obama is taking in the foreign policy arena.

        Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy destroying the sanctity of marriage and eroding the moral fabric of society.

        by Chrislove on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:10:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You are not a pragmatist (9+ / 0-)

    your approach has been tried and has failed miserably. I think that makes those of us that think the better way forward is to work from the left of center position and regard those that want the opposite of us as opponents are the true pragmatists.

  •  You seem to be a Serial Obsessive Compromiser (5+ / 0-)

    Seeking compromise for the sake of it, the kind of compromiser who was destroyed by the uncompromising GOP few days back.

    Get it?

  •  It's hard to negotiate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel, Philoguy, TBug

    when you want to do something to make improvements and the other side is happy to do nothing and has the power to stop anything from happening.

    I see that as the main problem we've had over the last 2 years.  We want something to happen.  The other side doesn't.  We say normally in a compromise both sides give, but in this case there was no compromising.  The country needed movement and the other side held the country hostage to get as little movement as possible.

    "Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot; those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged."

    by IL JimP on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:00:57 PM PST

  •  A pragmatist is NOT (9+ / 0-)

    "someone who gets things done". You're making up your own definition.

    A pragmatist is a person who believes that the value or truth of an idea is measured by the results it produces. There is an entire philosophy, founded by Charles Peirce and William James that is based on essentially that idea. It's called, oddly enough, Pragmatism.

    Pragmatists tend to ignore ideology, revealed truth, celebrity endorsements and similar things and look instead at what James called the "cash value" (not in the monetary sense) of an idea or proposition.

    You could find ways to defend your position on pragmatic grounds, but unfortunately it would not separate you from or make you superior to other people who don't hold the same position. They can be equally pragmatic and disagree with you 100% - they just have a different point of view on what a good or useful outcome is.

    Can't rec the diary, but you are eligible for the Inigo Montoya award.

    Unemployment: 9.5% Receiving food assistance: 25%

    by badger on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:01:31 PM PST

    •  Don't forget perhaps (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the greatest of the pragmatists:  John Dewey.  Then again, he referred to himself as an experimentalist (trying to underline exactly what you're saying).  Within the framework of genuine pragmatism/experimentalism, the strategies of the so-called pragmatists would be a dismal failure and therefore worthy of being abandoned.

      •  Certainly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've only read a little of Peirce, James and Dewey, but a lot more of contemporary pragmatists like the late Richard Rorty and Daniel Dennett.

        I think they could try make a pragmatic claim after the fact - they're satisfied with the outcome - but they're not pragmatists a priori, which is an odd kind of philosophy IMO. Sounds more like expedience or concession to me.

        Unemployment: 9.5% Receiving food assistance: 25%

        by badger on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 10:00:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Pragmatism is fine if it has a goal (5+ / 0-)

    and if it's the carrot to hardball's stick.  Us wild-eyed idealists tend to doubt that the pragmatists have anything we'd recognize as a goal; instead, they're just cleaning up Republicans' messes and the closest they get to taking the initiative is in response to a crisis.  It also looks to us like pragmatism is Democrats' only tool, and therefore there's never any reason for Republicans to support us for fear of more sudden and extreme progressivism.

    Also, I got all my faith in the fundamental goodness and patriotism of Republicans ripped out of me by President Bush, so I'd prefer to use the stick even if the carrot would work.

  •  Pragmatic Progressive was my sig. I got (0+ / 0-)

    ripped because DADT OR ENDA was not at the top of the list. I pointed out ERA, crickets. I listed all the stuff Obama has done, but, but, I want it ALL now.

    Humans operate in REALITY. Why is this so hard for Kossacks, of all people, to understand/

    Flame away. Please flip the kebabs when they are ready.

  •  Some things are susceptible to compromise (5+ / 0-)

    Stuff with numbers, for instance.  But overall concepts aren't susceptible to compromise, because half of a concept and half of the opposing one is just mush, and likely worse policy than either opposing concept on its own.  

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:05:02 PM PST

  •  The converse is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That if people don't get things done, they aren't pragmatic. Just because you call yourself pragmatic doesn't mean you really are.

    Compromise has to work both ways. If you try to compromise with the uncompromising, you just get acquiescence.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:41:44 PM PST

  •  There is no point in beating a dead horse... (0+ / 0-)

    the republicans have figured out that they can bait Obama with compromise and then slap him down when he thinks its going somewhere.  Their agenda is to destroy the credibility of Obama and the entire concept of government.

    To attempt bipartisan agreements in this environment is a fools errand.  In fact the repub strategy is so obvious that I must assume that Obama and the demo leadership are using the obstructionism of the repubs to hide their own republican leanings.

    Compromise is a code word for corporate approved.

    Corporate PACs, not just bribery but a lifestyle!

    by rubine on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:42:40 PM PST

  •  All compromise means is (0+ / 0-)

    I am not sure that what I believe is true, maybe you are right so lets make a deal.

    "No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked." La Rochefoucald

    by Void Indigo on Thu Nov 18, 2010 at 03:47:51 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site