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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Getting Things Done

Tonight I happened to stumble on a MyDD post by Matt Stoller that tries to grapple with a Zogby poll indicating that a majority of Republican and Democratic voters, and virtually all Independents, support politicians willing to compromise their principles to get things done.Matt writes an eloquent and agonized essay on these findings, but somehow winds up deciding that progressives should ignore them, and in fact, gird up their loins to change the minds of such voters by demonstrating that principles are more important than getting things done.My first impulse after reading this post was to cite Bertolt Brecht’s famous sardonic suggestion to the East German government in a time of turmoil that it “dissolve the people, and elect another.” But that’s probably not fair. Matt’s trying to figure out why Democratic voters in particular, despite all the polarization of the last few years, still support the idea of compromise with the hated partisan enemy.I think this is a matter of placing the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. Matt’s worried about the willingness of voters to “compromise principles,” and should be focusing on their desire to “get things done,” which in the end, is what politics is all about.”Getting things done” is a yardstick for contemporary politics that’s just as damning to George W. Bush and the Republican Party as all the partisan rhetoric you could hope for about their evil motives–rhetoric I engage in myself all the time.It’s actually very good news that a majority of voters in every category seem inclined to apply that yardstick to their political choices. That’s a competition progressives generally, and Democrats specifically, ought to be able to win. And in fact, using the public sector to “get things done” on the vast array of national challenges that Republicans are ignoring or screwing up is a pretty important matter of principle in itself.

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