To the Editor:
The irony of centrist pleas for realism like Andrew Reed’s ’21, in his column “It’s Time to get real, Dems,” is that they are built on a fantasy. They emulate the Joe Biden-style wish that if Democrats just moderate their policies enough or make overtures to Mitch McConnell over an old-fashioned, Republicans will suddenly forgo at least 12 years of unmitigated obstruction and cooperate with a Democratic president, Senate or House. It is no more fanciful to imagine Medicare-for-All will pass McConnell’s Senate than to imagine Biden’s public option will do the same. What is decidedly unrealistic is imagining Democrats will secure Republican cooperation on key legislation via moderation, the supposedly sober-minded strategy Reed advocates. Consider Merrick Garland. President Obama, ever apt to compromise, spent the last of his political capital on an appointee widely regarded as moderate and unimpeachably credentialed just to see McConnell stonewall him.
Realpolitik demands nominating candidates capable of exciting the millions of disaffected voters who stay home each election cycle as well as swing voters motivated less by ideology than a desire for change. For Democrats in office, pragmatism calls for progressive legislation that will show new voters it is actually worth going to the polls and election reforms that will bolster democracy as well as Democrats. Of all people, Brown students — young and empowered by a great education — should not chide Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and their many student supporters for progressive ambition in the name of half-baked realism. Brown students (and alums) should deploy our talent and time to turn the most just future imaginable into a reality.
Joe Zappa, ’17 former managing editor of The Herald’s 126th editorial board