My interrogation regarding your pragmatic, best-possible, stance, is always the same: at what point is that approach ‘falsifiable’...?
This is an excellent question, and my answer is, I suspect, exactly the one you would expect, and which makes you suspicious (with cause) of my view:
I don't think there is an available criterion on the basis of which we can know. Theory provides us many things, enabling analytic purchase on complexities, enabling narratives out of which to connect histories and hopes, but certainty is not one of them. I think here we are making judgments that have something of the quality of judgments of "taste" about them, in the eighteenth century sense aesthetic philosophers grappled with and which made Arendt turn to Kant's Third Critique in later work.
Spending a day as a fly on the wall at my house you might well be surprised to discover me reacting with rage and disgust to many of the same things you do. But when you say that Democrats as a cohort do not seem to you sufficiently different from Republicans to merit your support in any sense, I have to admit I can't even begin to understand what that kind of judgment must feel like. The first stimulus bootstrapped observable renewable enterprise, health reform will observably save lives, credit card reform will curtail observable abuses of everyday people, and so on -- though every single one of these legislative accomplishments is appallingly far from what is needed, what was promised, and was paid for by awful giveaways to evil corrupt stakeholders with a place at the table. I can find hope in such stuff (not to mention, I can truly dread what would happen if Republicans regained the House at this moment and re-enacted the paralyzing, vitriolic, litigious mischief-making of the Gingrich years, given the precarious state of our economy, climate, global politics, and so on), I can find material out of which to draw a line from here to where I want us to be going as a nation, becoming a social democracy on the way to be a partner in a global democratic federalist polity devoted to sustainability, fair trade, and secular multiculture.
Maybe this is because I am in the Bay Area and Democrats here regularly say things I can kinda sorta approve of in spite of our differences (since my politics are to the left of most every elected, even electable public servant except possibly, only possibly, Bernie Sanders)? Maybe as an inhabitant -- however precarious -- of the academy people seem so much smarter and well-meaning compared to the racist-homophobic-know-nothings who thronged my youth that this is a shot in the arm for me? Maybe this is because I draw on my experience as a teacher in making these assessments and applying them?
I don't agree with a single theorist I teach, for example (although I am indebted to many of them -- Arendt, Butler, Rorty, Haraway, Foucault, Fanon, Keynes, King, Shiva, Harvey, Latour, Gilroy, Jackson more or less in that order), but all the texts inspire in me a great enthusiasm, and I try to use that to connect students to the texts in the hope that they will take up pieces from them and assemble a critical vantage out of that and that all my students will enter into a world ad-vantaged by their contributions to it, a bit more hesitant to be cruel or dismissive or credulous, a bit more demanding of authority, a bit more capable, a bit more generous. I can't know what parts of what texts will get which students where I want to take them, it all plays out in the scene of the clasroom itself. Raised hands, laughter, wrinked brows, boredom, anger flitting across the faces like unpredictable storm fronts.
Practical politics seems a bit like that to me. I don't stop my assessment of some political vicissitude once I determine whether I agree with it or not, or even whether I agree with it more than alternatives on offer, but only when I assess what's next (both in the sense of what's likely and what might be an opportunity to whom) in respect to what it changes, given where we are, given who is where.
If my assessment of candidates, stances, public comments, policy positions and actual outcomes stopped at the first point, I would feel so hopeless and disgusted life would not feel worth living to me.
But more than just needing hope to live, I now know such despair would be factually wrong -- because experience has shown me that there is always more going on than I am aware of, and that there is always more that is possible than I expected.
I enjoyed this exchange, thank you.