For starters, we need to recognize that Republicans will work to obstruct any Democratic agenda regardless of whether it’s a “pragmatic incrementalist” or a “revolutionary.” It’s called politics. That’s how a party out of power operates in a two-party system.
If I have to choose between a “pragmatist” who won’t fight for what they believe in and an “unrealistic” candidate who will. Give me the “unrealistic” one any day.
In 2008, Obama promised to close Gitmo and barely even tried. A lot of people who rarely voted, myself included, went to the polls because of promises like that. Sanders might not be able to get Medicare for All passed in his first two years, but everyone knows he will make it his focus and go to the mat for it.
“I won’t be able to get anything done” isn’t a great campaign slogan. Also, “I’ll maybe possibly start fighting for Medicare for All in the third year of my presidency” isn’t going to get people to the polls.
The whole idea of the “political revolution” is that you promise a big, ambitious platform liked by voters (particularly those that usually don’t vote), and you get more Democrats, especially radical ones, in office down ticket.
The plans that seem the most “practical,” i.e. all the ultra means-tested platforms put out by the Buttigieges and the Harrises (RIP) of the world are in the end less pragmatic because they don’t energize anyone. “Tuition debt forgiveness for people who start a small business with at least five employees in an underprivileged area” might be easier for Republicans to sign off on, but voters can wrap their head around “student loan forgiveness for everybody.”
If Sanders is the nominee for the general, he has a good chance at winning a majority in both Houses, and he’ll actually do something with that majority, unlike Obama, with his broke-ass appeals to bipartisanship. Sanders has had the same policy agenda for his entire career and he’ll fight for it.