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After the Democratic presidential debate on July 30, one of my friends complained about all the “pie in the sky” ideas promoted by the radical candidates. We could never have universal healthcare, he insisted. We could never have tuition-free college. To promote these ideas is to ensure Trump wins again.

Realism

It isn’t the idealism of unrealistic voters that got Trump elected in 2016. It was the realism of so many voters in the Democratic primaries. The word they use to describe themselves sounds wise and mature, but it’s a misnomer. Those realists should instead call themselves pessimists.

They are so closed to progressive ideas that they don’t realize some form of universal healthcare exists (and has existed for decades) in most other industrialized nations. They don’t see that tuition-free college exists (and has for decades) in many other countries. If those are pie in the sky dreams, then lots of other countries are airborne while we’re still stuck in the mud.

And it’s not as if those other countries are Utopias. If they can do it, we certainly can, too.

If fighting for radical changes to address the climate crisis is a pie in the sky dream, pessimists might just as well stop saving for their children’s college education right now and spend that money on trips to Disneyland and food festivals instead.

If fighting for radical changes to address the climate crisis is a pie in the sky dream, pessimists might just as well stop saving for their children’s college education right now and spend that money on trips to Disneyland and food festivals instead.

If they honestly believe that slow, incremental change is going to help us in any meaningful way, then they are far from seeing the world “realistically.” Even pessimism doesn’t describe their philosophy. A better term would be “willfully ignorant.” Or perhaps, as offensive a term as it is, “delusional.”

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But “stubborn” and “obstinate” are accurate terms for them as well. “Arrogant,” too, since many of them are so sure their “reasonable” approach will work in a battle against unreasonable fanatics firing scientists at the USDA, against racists blinded by hatred and fear, against faithful sheep brainwashed by right-wing propaganda.

“Realism” is what got us into this mess in the first place. It has no chance of getting us out.

Unless, of course, we correct the definition to reflect reality. If we expect to survive as a nation, as a civilization, then we must immediately make healthcare available to all, so our lives are no longer consumed by the constant struggle to receive care and pay medical bills. Only then will millions of people have the health and emotional energy to face the next battle. We must immediately make college education available to all who want to pursue careers that allow them to support their families. Only then will millions of people have the means and security to handle the rest of the fight. It’s the only way we can train enough engineers and meteorologists and biologists to give us a fighting chance to survive the rapidly escalating climate crisis.

That’s the reality we face. A world where slow, incremental change was reasonable, was possible, no longer exists.

It’s not “moderate” to abandon the chance to survive. It is not “mature and wise” to ignore the science that tells us we have only a handful of years left to make the drastic changes necessary to avoid the collapse of civilization.

It’s not “reasonable” to consider climate activists and voters who demand a minimum level of justice “the real problem.”

Johnny Townsend

Yes, I’m for realism, too. But let’s get real—pie in the sky dreams are not only achievable, they’re our only realistic hope.

Johnny Townsend

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