... my radar goes off and my guard goes up.
As someone who has led several successful against-the-odds grassroots campaigns, I've often heard the admonishments that "Now, we have to be pragmatic..." This is usually followed by another warning that "we can't be too idealistic." The perfect is the enemy of the good, etc. etc.
And then we ignored the hand-wringers, who warned us about what we couldn't "realistically" achieve, and fought a hard-nosed, well-organized, and idealistic campaign. And we won. By being both idealistic and pragmatic.
So in my experience, at least two main motivations typically lie behind the invocation of a need for people to be "pragmatic." I'll describe them in more detail after the jump...