I think Lind's point that if progressives dig in and defend Obamacare both as super-awesome and liberal, that they're making a big mistake, is important. The flaws of Obamacare are basically conservative ones. It's too complicated and it's too stingy and (happy to be proven wrong) likely won't cut overall medical spending much.
The point isn't "wah wah wah why didn't Obama wave his magic wand and make Medicare for all happen." The point is that we should continue to explain that Medicare for all would be better, cheaper, and more popular. Savvy people will inform me that Medicare for all won't happen and Obamacare is that best that could have happened. Probably you're right, savvy people! Congratulations on being savvy! I'm not sure why that precludes informing people that a better policy exists, even if it won't happen. Even savvy people spend lots of time talking about things that are unlikely to happen.
Atrios touches upon what is one of my biggest gripes with politics at all levels of government: The tendency of the serious people to pat themselves on their backs for understanding the limits of politics while dismissively rolling their eyes at the craaaaaazy windmill tilters who refuse to let go of their impossible dreams. It's a lame excuse for refusing to debate policy, whatever its merits. And it is a recipe for political inertia.
Take for example Kshama Sawant's call for a millionaire's tax to fund transit expansion. "We don't have the authority," city council member Richard Conlin dismissively explained at a recent candidates forum. "We can't do that in this city." Maybe. It sure would be difficult. Seattle voters would have to approve a millionaires tax, and the state Supreme Court would have to overturn its 1933 decision ruling that income is property, and Democrats in Olympia would have to block the subsequent inevitable attempt to preempt local income taxes (there's currently no prohibition in state statute). So a local millionaires tax sure is unlikely.
But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be discussed, especially within the context of perpetual budget crises and the most regressive tax structure in the nation. When critics roll their eyes at Sawant's proposal as being unserious, what they're really doing is refusing to debate the policy on its merits. That's not pragmatism. That's cowardice. Or at the very least, laziness.
But you know what's really crazy? Pretending we don't need to do something about our tax structure. Privately, even a lot of the serious people in Olympia will admit that there is no possible way to fund McCleary (the billions a year in addition K-12 funding demanded by the supreme court) without substantially raising new taxes. And that's a conversation that might be a little easier to have statewide if only we could start a conversation about taxes here in relatively tax-friendly Seattle. And even if a local millionaires tax never happens, a healthy debate over the values this proposal represents could have a positive impact on the development of other tax proposals.
But the grownups in the room say "no," brushing off the rest of us as unruly children for daring to advocate a policy the savvy people know will never happen.