One factor I think you're missing is the shortening of people's attention span, due to the quickening of our technological environment. We expect problems to be solved quickly, whereas time would seem to have passed more slowly before the invention of electric technologies.
To some extent this late-modern expectation is infantile, but our technology does enable us to perform certain tasks much quicker. We're empowered by our technology, so in some cases gradualism or incrementalism becomes inexcusable; more specifically, we should search for the real reason for the stalling.
A case study here would be the battle between the Democratic centrists and progressives. Obama and Biden are both incrementalists. Progressives are radicals who push for more sweeping changes, just to bring the US up to the level of Europe, Canada, and other advanced countries in terms of their social infrastructure.
The reason for centrist incrementalism in the US isn't remotely Burke's moderate conservatism. It has nothing to do with respect for tradition or for the people's wisdom. Most Americans are opposed to their plutocratic conditions. They either don't vote at all because they're disgusted with centrist politics or they voted recently in huge numbers for Trump, for a radical outsider to shake things up. Bernie Sanders lost, so the Democrats were stuck with Biden, and now Americans are poised to see another round of centrist incrementalism in action, to see a series of too-little, too-late compromises that won't solve Americans' structural problems.
It takes vision and courage to solve structural problems, to face the fundamental truth of social decline. There's a kind of heroism that's been lacking in Democrats since Bill Clinton's triangulations and since the Democrats switched their allegiance from the blue-collar workers to the professional and the wealthy donor classes.
The reason for Democratic incrementalism is that the party has become a branch of large corporations. Just as the corporate media don't report on structural problems (on the budding plutocracy and corporate ownership of the media and the government, for example), because those media companies are owned by giant corporations that thrive from the status quo, the Democratic party is neoliberal and thus implicitly in favor of the vast inequality that results from capitalist competition. That inequality widens until you have monopolies and a plutocracy, and the question becomes whether that corporate capture of democratic government can be reformed from within.
Incrementalism in that context is a form of surrender. In other articles, I've characterized it as an expression of the feminine traits that are prominent in the Democratic party, in contrast to the hypermasculine psychopathy of the Republicans.
Republicans are shameless social Darwinians. They seek to maximize the economic inequality, to entrench the ranks of the social classes within the American dominance hierarchy. The Republicans are zealots not for God but for nature. Theirs is an evolutionary imperative. They want to clarify social divisions, as in a monarchy, so it's obvious that the masses lack the social standing of the aristocrats. All of which is antithetical to modern liberalism, which is supposed to favour Everyman and to create a prosperous middle class.
The Democrats are defined by their timidity and by the shame of their betrayal of their progressive values. Their neoliberalism is a form of existential inauthenticity. So granted, they're the more civilized and sophisticated party, catering to the professional class, as Thomas Frank says; they love to compromise and to appeal to experts, to show that government's functioning efficiently, "getting stuff done." The only problem is that such momentum is pointless without the choice of a direction, of a vision for the future. That takes creative madness which urbane technocrats lack.
China's technocracy is another example. There may be no more efficient country on earth than China. Their government gets stuff done quickly. But their system isn't designed to promote creativity, so they have to steal technologies from the more innovative West. What, then, will China do with its technological mastery? Instrumental rationality is one thing, cultural values are another.
What are the values of Democratic centrists? What do Clinton, Obama, and Biden stand for? We know what Sanders stands for, and he's proved useless in the Senate since he meant to enact radical reforms which went against the country's unelected establishment. But at least he stands for something other than for a betrayal of the human potential to resist nature's inhumanity.