In an atmosphere dominated by radicals and reactionaries, pragmatism is often derided as being nothing short of the greatest of all evils.
From an objective viewpoint, 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 essentially every political happening, they cannot rationally evaluate what is occurring before their very eyes and, in turn, jump to fantastical conclusions about what might otherwise be considered mundane or manageable. It is the repercussions of their flawed decision making which lead to widespread periods of turbulence, such as the Los Angeles riots of 1992 and, over two hundred years before that, Shays’ 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 one believe that he or she cannot afford to give an inch under any circumstances, even if there is much to be gained from doing this, then futility is guaranteed. In the case of 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 should be the method of choice for 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 quite hard to ask for anything more.