By Dale Bowling
There was a famous, perhaps infamous exchange years ago between a Bush aide (widely believed to be Karl Rove) and the journalist, Ron Suskind. They had been discussing the War in Iraq. Suskind wrote:
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' ... 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an
empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" - New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004
Funny story! So how did that work out?
Fast forward to Election Night 2012. A fellow (also widely believed to be Karl Rove) freaked out on Fox News because he couldn't believe the exit polling in Ohio showing that the Buckeye State had voted Obama. He then is widely believed to have made a total ass of himself on national television.
Again, funny story. But in all comedy or even farce, there is a grain of truth. That grain of truth is that Reality can be harsh, but it is never a liar. It can't be messaged away or massaged away or ignored for very long. At the end of the day there weren't WMDs in Iraq, we weren't greeted as Liberators, Iraq's oil wealth didn't finance its reconstruction and Ohio voters as a whole preferred Obama to Romney.
We could easily add more realities to this list. The average temperature is getting warmer. Tax cuts don't create large numbers of jobs. Economic growth can be hurt by cuts in government spending- especially in fragile recoveries. A woman's body doesn't shut down her reproductive system during rape. Income inequality is getting more pronounced and this is bad for our economy and our democracy. People with guns kill people a lot more easily and in greater numbers than people with hammers. When teens are taught about birth control, they have fewer pregnancies. Corporations aren't people.
The list goes on and on.
America needs "judicious study of discernible reality" - now more than ever. And for this America needs the Democratic Party. It is no accident or conspiracy that our Nation's scientists (the ultimate reality-based community) are almost ten times more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. The break down in a recent Pew Research Poll was Democrats- 55%, Independents- 32%, Republicans - 6%.
Stephen Colbert said it best years ago, "The Facts have a well-known liberal bias".
So as we look at issues like Sequestration, Job Creation, the Deficit, Immigration, and Climate Change, Democrats must and will do it through judicious study of discernible reality. If we want real answers then we have to ask the real questions. Have we been going down the wrong road as far as focusing more on Deficit reduction than on Job Creation? What sacrifices will we need to make to stop or at least slow climate change? What if we don't do them? What if we do? How do we reform Immigration in a way that the majority of people will feel is fair and workable?
In case you haven't heard, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will be the speaker at the Democratic Party of DuPage County's Gala this coming Sunday. His new book is entitled, A Nation of Wusses: How America's Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.
Nothing could potentially undermine the greatness of America like allowing ourselves to believe things we know aren't true, just because we really want them to be.