On Ideology And Pragmatism ~ The World According To Will

I paid a visit to the Madison County Democratic Party headquarters the other day to see what they were up to. I was taken aback by the collective confidence in the room; everyone I talked to genuinely thought that Obama was going to win big—the word landslide was used more than once. So certain were the volunteers working the phones that I was laughed at when I said that it was going to be close.

I sat down with the party chairman, Clete Wetli, a nice guy who has been on the job for seven months, and who seems to be a great organizer reminiscent of Howard Dean. Dean, you’ll recall, was quite successful at stirring up the troops via the Internet before the famous scream brought him down. Mr. Wetli’s team uses computers as well, and their reach extends beyond Alabama’s borders into Florida, among other states.

Wetli’s passion for getting out the vote is trumped by his passion for ideas. “I think government is good,” he told me. The bailout, he explained, failed because Washington didn’t put enough money into it. It’s unconscionable, he thinks, that with the economy in the tank, billionaires aren’t taxed just a little bit more.

He spent a good portion of our time together complaining that our tax code wasn’t progressive enough. I countered by asking him what he thought about the Fair Tax, which if implemented, would be extremely progressive (rich people buy yachts, for example, and pay more taxes per boat than many of us pay all year). Wetli laughed a bit, and said simply that the Fair Tax sounds good, but wouldn’t work.

On social issues, Wetli is passionate about gay rights, and, again, thinks that the federal government needs to decide the issue of gay marriage (my words, his idea) in the affirmative. Though abortion didn’t come up in our conversation, it’s important enough to Madison County Democrats that there was a sign on the wall vehemently advocating a woman’s right to abort.

The slogan on Mr. Wetli’s card is “change that matters.” He, like many voters who continue to trust that Obama will fulfill his first-term promises, believes (hopes might be the better word) that in a second term, the President will be an unapologetic statist. Time will tell whether Wetli is right, of course, but the point is that the base of the Democratic Party is driven by the notion that Obama is the most ideological president they’ve elected since FDR.

The Republican base, still searching for its next Reagan, isn’t enthused this year. Just as the Left’s mantra in 2004 was “anybody but Bush,” Republicans are more determined to oust Obama than to elect Romney. Pragmatism, more than ideology, will propel them to the polls.

Pragmatism alone won’t defeat Obama. The good news is that the casual voter, euphemistically referred to as the Independent voter, is horrified by the policies of the last four years. This year, “anybody but Obama” will be the mindset of a majority of Americans on Election Day, and with no strong third party candidate in the race, the advantage goes to Romney.
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By: Will Anderson