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Deliberation

The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised. – George F. Will

This morning, I heard an interview with Will on NPR that was a delightfully intelligent discussion about the painfully stupid debates that are paralyzing the federal government and enraging the (un) governed. The conservative columnist and new Fox News hire called back the Madisonian to control the government through making change very, very hard. As all good Americans do, I love the founding fathers and wish that Ben Franklin was here with some pithy barbs and new inventions. But the current political situation has been a breeding ground for pessimists, who are woken every day to be proven right that we are never getting a compromise surprise.

I’m not sure if I’m an optimist or pessimist. Others may read my attitude as optimistic, and in everyday situations I find myself willing to go unfrazzled and embrace the good that can be found in the love of dogs, a bed of flowers, or the bond between women crowding ladies’ bathrooms. If I pay any attention to the news or I try to reflect upon my own prospects, the doom and gloom returns, unchecked by any rays of sunlight.

There’s truth to Will’s statement – it’s hard to disappoint a pessimist. As someone dealing with an near-panicky fear of disappointment, it’s the path of least resistance. But if we don’t even hope that we can be better, stronger, kinder, smarter, more reasonable and more competent writers or friends or politicians or human beings, how can we ever expect to rise out of our own messes and get on with it? If those founding fathers hadn’t believed that they could do it better, they may not have found those truths to be so self-evident.

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