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Democrats must be more Ruthless - when they get back in power
Progressives are absolutely right to bristle at the Democrats’ tactical timidity. The party’s aversion to the ruthless exercise of power is a major reason why the state of our union is so god-awful today.
But the case for radical tactics hinges on the certainty of their success. The ends can’t justify the means if the means don’t actually work. For this reason, tactical maximalism makes a lot more sense for governing parties than for opposition ones. If a Democratic Senate majority abolishes the filibuster to pass amnesty for all the undocumented — or refuses to confirm any judicial nominees from a Republican president, so as to preserve the possibility of a future Democratic president filling those open seats — there is no question that the tactic will succeed. In these cases, the party has the power to achieve its aims through extraordinary measures; the only question is whether it has the will to do so.
To question the premise is to betray the cause. This is an unfortunate development. For a movement to be truly ruthless in its pursuit of power, it must also be pragmatic. The Democratic Party would be a lot better off today, politically, if a mobilized left had forced it to govern more radically under Obama.
If Senate Democrats had abolished the filibuster, and passed citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants on a party-line vote, there’s a strong chance that Donald Trump would have never become president. Add a few million more immigrants to the electorate and you end up with a country that is both more democratic and more Democratic.