One vision believes we can return to a more sensible America. The other calls for radical overhaul. But in this moment when democracy is being sorely tested, both radical and realist models warrant serious consideration.— Kathleen Kingsbury (@katiekings) January 20, 2020
Let’s set aside the juxtaposition of “a more sensible America” and “radical overhaul.” That’s just someone’s ideology showing. The part that gets people hurt and killed is the next sentence.
”… both radical and realist models warrant serious consideration.”
Three years of a vicious kind of realism from radicals who have set out to obliterate norms and make the country a meaner, crueler place, and the reasonable center still holds on to a broken taxonomy where “radical” and “realistic” are … different from each other? It’s like saying “both the color blue and cars warrant serious consideration.” As surely as there are blue cars, there are realistic radicals.
The moderates lost the last election not because there was, like, a glitch in the matrix—a disorder of reality—but because they had a poorer mastery of what is real. Me, too. I don’t know how many times I reloaded the NYT’s electoral forecast widget on election night. “Damn thing must be broken, how the hell does that guy have a 90 percent chance of winning? It’ll smooth out when the west coast comes in.”
We can make excuses: The electoral college is unfair, James Comey subverted the election, Russian trolls. None of it matters, because a lot of us—and a whole presidential campaign—believed right up until all those influences large and small prevailed that there was no way the election could possibly go the way it did. A certain kind of radical—the kind most people reading this will not identify with—had a more realistic view of what the country could tolerate.
And a very grim realism continues to prevail: The leader of the Senate can steal a Supreme Court seat. So, who’s the realist? The guy who stole the seat? Or the people saying you can’t steal Supreme Court seats because of customs and norms? One of them handed that seat over to his party, the others just have to live with the consequences for the next several decades. One of them has power—control of our living reality earned by understanding it—and the others don’t. Just using the phrase “stealing” reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what is real, because no crime was committed, no laws broken.
Not a historian, but I imagine every time a society or system has undergone radical, shocking change, there have surely been people who were sitting around thinking that the radicals clamoring for change had no chance because they simply weren’t being realistic. I’m sure the radicals who ultimately upended those societies were glad they didn’t stop to listen to the “realists” as they set about defining the new reality, grateful they understood the truths of the old one well enough to destroy it.
You don’t have to be of any particular ideological persuasion—or a radical of any particular bent—to understand how damaged the NYT’s frame is. If you’re a moderate, all I can say is that your paper of record is failing you. If you’re a radical, you should be delighted: The reasonable center you’re going to need to step over at some point doesn’t understand how reality works.