“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” may sound like a cool turn of phrase, but it doesn’t fit this moment. Yes, great challenges exist. And none more important than the elections next year. But they aren’t insurmountable. A revitalized Democratic Party, an expansive, loosely knit, heterogeneous, and democratic minded coalition of millions, a revitalizing left, and favorable public opinion polls should give us more than a dollop of hope (and confidence) that we can, albeit with a lot of sweated labor, meet these challenges.
Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist leader, popularized this turn of phrase, but remember he did it, while sitting in a fascist prison and well aware of surging fascist governments in Italy and Germany. Both were beating down, to say the least, the opposition in their path.