Pragmatism vs. Principles

My dear friend and ideological ally @starsoflaria (on Twitter) and I have had an interesting discussion these past two days about something that has roiled my soul for many years now — namely how to balance one’s beliefs with what those beliefs can actually accomplish in the system we have. It’s hardly an uncommon conflict — I think any idealist eventually faces the choice between “What do I believe?” and “What can I potentially do?”

What I’m still unwilling to do, however, is fight a battle that, within the strictures of the system we have, can’t be won. I was 15 in 2000, but would have voted for Gore, because I knew Nader had no realistic chance. My principles favored Nader, but I knew he had no realistic shot of winning and would likely end up ceding the presidency to Bush (as he did, and we know how that turned out). I supported Kerry in 2004 — co-running his campaign in New Hampshire at my college, even though Kucinich best reflected what I personally believe. While I still hold out hope that Sen. Warren enters the race, I will likely support Hillary — though Sen. Sanders reflects my values, not out of cynicism, but pragmatism, as the alternative is far worse.

The problem is the system itself; that’s what needs to change, and I’m not sure how that’s to be accomplished. Personally, I favor a European-style parliamentary system, one in which minority parties at least have the chance at a voice; but to do that would require a constitutional amendment, which seems unlikely at best. The other glaring problem (obvious to anyone remotely paying attention) is Citizens United and the undue influence of money in American electoral politics. Just ask Newt Gingrich — all you need is a gullible billionaire and you’ve got yourself a presidential campaign.

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~ by Benji on 7 June 2015.

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