The appeal of Klobuchar is essentially conservative, even Burkean. What she offers is not a dream solution to problems like the cost of health care or university education or the mess we have made of our foreign policy, but something that she thinks will sound reasonable. She accepts the reality of bad decisions that have been made in the past and hopes to prevent future ones by way of incremental improvements. This is why she rejects single-payer despite her willingness to acknowledge the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act, why she insists on maintaining some American troops in Iraq even though she says that the war was a mistake, and why she rejects the Green New Deal without denying the threat of anthropogenic climate change. It is also why she was the only person on the stage Tuesday night who mentioned the federal deficit even once. She identifies herself as someone who stands in between the “extremes of our politics,” a no-nonsense, commonsensical go-getter who will do her best for everyone — so long as they are willing to compromise. She adds to this an intriguing background, folksy charm, and an admirable fighting spirit (she more or less tied with Warren for second place in speaking time).

I and many enthusiasts on either end of the political spectrum find this position loathsome. But believe it or not, there are millions of Americans who feel this way, who think that marginally improving the lives of their fellows should not come at the cost of their own well-earned comfort and security. Over and over again, Klobuchar argued that her opponents were either too idealistic (Sanders, Warren) or too inexperienced (South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg).