Let me share with you one of the more unpopular words in politics and society today: pragmatism. Recently, we had occasion to highlight pragmatism in our cover story about the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a polarized world, her career was a stark reminder of its power.
Today’s issue throws light on that idea from a different perspective. Our first three stories are about wildly different things: Democrats’ struggle to get their agenda through Congress, China seeking a balance between state control and free enterprise, and nations turning back to coal amid an energy crunch. But running beneath each of them is a common theme: pragmatism.
Will the Democrats find a way to push legislation through, or will the party be undone by its own internal orthodoxies? Can China bend its Communist orthodoxies enough to create better educational opportunities? And how do even the greenest nations meet energy needs when their best-laid plans go awry?
Pragmatism can have the scent of capitulation. But at a time when so few people agree on anything, and solutions can seem so daunting as to feel impossible, pragmatism can also reveal what steps forward are possible now.