Progressive politics is, in my view, a movement, not a monument. We cannot achieve perfection in this life, and if that is our goal we will always be frustrated. The right has far more modest goals: At every turn, its members seek to advance their power and protect privilege. I’ve never seen the Republican right oppose a tax cut for the rich because it wasn’t generous enough; I’ve never seen them oppose a set of loopholes for corporate lobbyists because one industry or another wasn’t included. The left, on the other hand, too often prefers a glorious defeat to an incremental victory.
Ezra Klein adds:
The trickiest part of my job right now is to balance the desire for a better bill with the need to argue that the bill that’s likely to emerge still makes for a better country. You don’t want to ease the pressure on Congress too early, but you don’t want to see your allies forget that this is about more than the public option. Imagine for a second that health-care reform looks exactly like the House bill, but the public option is excluded. What will be easier over the next 10 years? Passing a simple piece of legislation that establishes a public option? Or starting from scratch with a 1,000-plus-page bill that spends $1.3 trillion expanding coverage, and regulates insurers, and creates health insurance exchanges, and reforms the delivery system, and cuts payments to the private insurers overcharging Medicare … and all the rest of it?