What do the Paulbots and the Obamabots have in common?

Answer: Both groups, and far too many more to mention, are leading our country in the wrong direction. Why? Because they value abstract ideals above concrete realities.  Photo: Associated Press

FLORIDA, October 7, 2012 — These days, few people seem to be satisfied with the direction America is taking.

Fewer appear to be interested in finding out why it is so difficult for even the most senior of our country’s public officeholders to course correct.

We have become accustomed to hearing talk radio hosts, sensationalistic pundits, and conniving political operatives not only blaming, but demeaning those on the “other side”. Whether the grievances in question pertain to a monetary crisis or a conversational misunderstanding, smear merchandising is always in style.

One of the cardinal tenets in our era of polarized politics is that compromise ought to be regarded as an unimaginable abomination.     

As I have written, when an atmosphere is dominated by radicals and reactionaries, pragmatism is often derided as being nothing short of the greatest of all evils.

It is difficult to see exactly how the practice of emphasizing practicality by assigning greater importance to facts rather than sheer emotionalism or infeasible ideals is a bad thing. Indeed, most level heads would consider this to be quite the opposite.

The problem is that the American body politic has a permanent infestation of sorts with those who choose to perceive its intricacies in a wholly subjective manner. As they pin their own fears and frustrations onto virtually every political happening, they cannot rationally evaluate what is occurring before their very eyes.

In turn, these people jump to fantastical conclusions about what might otherwise be considered mundane or manageable. It is the repercussions of their flawed decision making which leads to periods of turbulence, such as the Los Angeles riots of 1992 and, over two hundred years before that, the Shays’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts.

It is no easy task to realize that one’s preferred outcome in any situation simply will not come to pass. However, if pragmatism is not utilized to reach a point of agreement acceptable to those concerned, then serious problems are not far off. A strong argument can be made that the all-or-nothing mentality which many harbor while negotiating is one of the most enduring, destructive forces facing mankind.

Should we believe that we cannot afford to give an inch under any circumstances, even if there is much to be gained from doing this, then futility is guaranteed. Specifically concerning partisan politics, this is far more destructive than in any other medium, because the daily lives of millions are affected by the decisions of a few.

If the few in question negotiate with blind dogmatism and hefty egos, as opposed to logic and open mindedness, then we are all sure to pay the price for their misdeeds.

Pragmatism is the best approach to political problem solving. While it is sure to leave everybody feeling a bit damper, as none are allowed to have their cake and eat it too, it serves an immensely valuable purpose: resolving immediate quandaries and rooting solutions in reality over theory.

As solutions of this nature tend to be sustainable ones, and these are all-but-extinct in modern politics, it is all but impossible to ask for anything more.


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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