NY Times boils it all down to ideology vs getting things done.

The New York Times made interesting endorsements this morning.

I propose a perspective:

There are two spectrums along which to evaluate candidates:

  • Political: are they left, right or center, and by how much?
  • Effectiveness: are they rigidly uncompromising or willing to work with others to get things done?

Often people assume these are the same thing; if one is compromising, one must be centrist, or if one is further from center, one must be less compromising. That is a false assumption. The two are correlated, yes, but not strictly so. One can be a stubborn centrist, or an extremist willing to negotiate.

Simple example. If you look at Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he has historically advocated single-payer healthcare, which is a further-from-center position also endorsed by Warren and Sanders. So one could cast him as further left. However, in his current campaign he has proposed Public Option, which is to say, “We can aspire to getting to single payer, but in order to get there we need to get a broader coalition of supporters onboard, so our first step is going to be incremental.” He is therefore being cast as centrist, when indeed his ideology on this is more left, but he is also willing to negotiate to actually get it done. (Disclosure: Pete is not currently my personal first choice.)

It’s REALLY important that both parties wrestle with this issue in the coming years. In my view, the GOP is at the moment stuck on the uncompromising end of the effectiveness spectrum. But the Dems are very publicly wrestling with this in the current primaries.

Indeed, the New York Times this morning very cleanly boiled the Democratic primaries down to this core issue: the degree to which a candidate advocates change, versus the degree to which they can work with others and unify.

“Any hope of restoring unity in the country will require modesty, a willingness to compromise and the support of the many demographics that make up the Democratic coalition.”

New York Times: “The Democrats’ Best Choices for President“, 20 January, 2020

But then … the Times punted on which to choose.

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Divisive partisanship is preventing us from accomplishing “jack.”

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“A family from Mexico who arrived here this morning, legally, has as much right to the American dream as the direct descendants of the founding fathers. … when the blood of the sons of immigrants and the grandsons of slaves fell on foreign fields, it was American blood. In it you could not read the ethnic particulars of the soldier who died next to you. He was an American. And when I think of how we learned this lesson, I wonder [how] we could have unlearned it.”

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