Commented: Don't let the achievable be the enemy of the perfect
Commenter Burndtdan wasn't impressed with my post this morning arguing that you can't confused fantasy plans with realistic legislation.
Although I don't support the measures in Ryan's budget, I have to firmly disagree with your entire framing.
A bill that works best in theory is what should be strived for. Passing it might require you to reframe the debate, to shift the Overton window to one direction or the other, and that takes time. But ultimately, the result is a solution that works, rather than a solution that could pass.
Real solutions take leadership. Leadership is not bending yourself to political reality, it is bending political reality to yourself. As George Bernard Shaw said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
I don't agree with Ryan's budget, but I do respect it for it's audacity. I believe it was you who said roughly the same thing here a week or so ago. We are facing increasingly radical problems in this nation, and we've spent the entire last generation taking advice like yours, worrying about what will pass, rather than what will work. It's why our Congress hasn't passed a major piece of legislation since the '60s.
It's time to stop worrying about finding the lowest common denominator to a passing cloture vote, and instead time to start picking some fight and bloodying some noses. The American people need big solutions to the big problems, and all you need to do is look at the Democratic poll trends to see what they think about leaders who think that tinkering around the edges is enough.
I actually agree with much of this, which is why I tried hard to highlight Ryan's proposal and why I spent so much time talking about Wyden-Bennett. But I don't agree that it's time to stop worrying about figuring out what can pass. A lot of people need a lot of help right now, and even if we can't do enough, we need to do what we can. The trick of that is you somehow need to communicate that your bill is good, but not sufficient, and that's very hard to do when you're trying to sell it to the American people. One of the problems with the health-care reform bill, I think, is that it's been oversold. It's a big achievement, but it's not nearly so big as people think.
February 9, 2010; 5:26 PM ET
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