OK. I stole this title from an excellent book by Richard Rorty. I am using it because there is a lot of misinformation about "pragmatism" floating around on this site, giving the venerable American philosophical school of pragmatism a bad name.
To read the diaries about the evils of "pragmatism" on this site, would make one think that democrats are willing to engage in abhorent compromises just to get a bill passed.
Pragmatism does not mean "compromise" but simply that the worth of any idea, program, or action should be measured by its consequences.
Pragmatism traces its roots to great early American Philosphers Charles Pierce and William James. It continued with John Dewey, and more recently neo-pragmatists such as Richard Rorty.
As John Dewey put it, there is no question of theory versus practice but rather of intelligent practice versus uninformed, stupid practice and noted in a conversation with William Pepperell Montague that "[h]is effort had not been to practicalize intelligence but to intellectualize practice". (Quoted in Eldridge 1998, p. 5)
That's what we should be debating. What are the consequences of a health bill that covers 94% of people, and that prevents insurance companies from dumping sick patients, etc? Does it make a public option more difficult to obtain in the future? If it does, is that drawback outweigh the benefits to covering additional uninsured people in the short run?
What are the consequence of passing an across the board tax-cut that includes millionaires? Does it weaken the ecomony more than no tax-cut? Does standing firm force Republicans to make unpopular votes than can be used in the next election?
Consequences are always difficult to predict, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.