Pragmatism as the Antidote to Unbending Idealism

The United States is the most divided it’s been in over a century. Political squabbles across party lines are normal, though we’re witnessing increasing polarization within political parties. The democratic party has yet to find its voice, as the moderates begin to separate themselves from the progressives. Within the republican party, we’re seeing some politicians align themselves with the President while others keep their distance. Simply put, it’s growing more difficult to classify an individual based on political party. In fact, it’s growing more difficult to recognize what America’s political parties even stand for.

All this division makes defining America’s path forward nearly impossible. America is not just a nation without direction. It’s a nation without competent leadership. I’m not interested in discussing the merits of proposed policies. I am, however, interested in learning how America can advance forward when such polarization permeates our politics. Ideology is counterproductive when it stands in the way of progress. We’ve elected a group of political ideologues to office, so we should expect progress to grind to a standstill. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Pragmatic solutions can address the problems of unbending idealism.

Plan, Implement, and Accept Accountability

One of the biggest issues in politics today is the lack of substance. There is no shortage of ideas making headlines, but these ideas cannot come to life without plans detailing how. Little can be done without advanced planning, which is arguably why our politics are in the state they’re in. Moreover, plans detailing how ideas are executed help us better determine the strength of the ideas themselves. To illustrate the point, let’s take an idea that’s been making headlines lately: taxing the rich at 70%.

I have no problem with an idea of this nature being injected into our political discourse. It’s different, it’s provocative, and it leads to some healthy debate. However, the proposed benefits of a 70% top tax rate are theoretical. The American Economic Association conducted a study that concluded a tax increase on the rich would benefit the poor. This may be true. This may be untrue. While we can never be certain, implementing an idea like this must be well thought out beforehand. Further studies should be conducted and politicians should better understand the feasibility of such a tax. Will the rich shelter their money offshore to avoid the tax? Are there tax loopholes that could be capitalized on? Will this kind of tax curb entrepreneurialism?

Big ideas may win elections, but thorough planning ensures sustained success. With a well developed plan in place, an idea can be converted into action. To get stuff done, you need a plan. A good plan covers the following:

  1. Implementation risks:

    • What could compromise the success of the implementation of an idea? Is there strong political opposition? Are there legal hurdles that need to be overcome? Risks should be detailed and a mitigation plan addressing each risk should be created.
  2. Ownership and accountability:

    • Who owns each component of the plan? Who is accountable for the success or failure of each component? There must be a “throat to choke” for every implementation of an idea. The finger pointing and denials we so often see in politics today is inexcusable. Strong leaders take responsibility and do everything in their power to get things done.
  3. Timetable:

    • Plans without timetables are destined to fail. By gaining a true appreciation for how long it takes to implement an idea, planners can project costs, necessary resources, and other factors influencing the success of the implementation. Without a clear timetable, implementations may grow too costly, dooming the idea altogether.
  4. Long term effects:

    • Politicians today fail to think of the long term effects of their ideas. Unrelenting tax cuts hurt countries’ finances. Unconstrained pollution poisons the environment. If politicians continue to think about short term reelection campaigns rather than the long term strength of the countries they manage, the entire country will suffer.

Can Politicians Get Stuff Done?

My personal philosophy is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. I think that it’s possible for politicians to become more pragmatic, but I’m not holding my breath. The above planning advice isn’t limited to politics. I suggest that when you incorporate these tips when developing your plans. As preppers, we’re all planners. We get stuff done. I just hope our elected representatives recognize the importance of planning and preparation to the extent we do.

Do you have planning advice you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.

Get Stuff Done

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