A funny thing happened to me in the fall of 2016: After the worst-case scenario on election night, I suffered through a burst of clear-headed perspective, writing several harshly honest essays here.

Three years later, despite my post-debacle efforts at brutal clarity, I find myself slipping back into delusion, a.k.a. “hope.”

This is not to say that hope — in the near-term political sense — is unwarranted. I’ll confess to legitimate hope for a good election outcome in 2020, and I keep feeling compelled to write about it

But the hard truth from late November 2016 is still the hard truth three years later. Whether or not we take back control of the federal government a year from now, we’re still gonna be stuck with each other. Americans are still gonna be stuck with an 18th century operating system that will severely limit our ability to address 21st century problems. Most people will still generally favor doing something about Climate Change — so long as it requires no personal sacrifices or new habits.

This isn’t an original thought, but it always bears repeating: Trump isn’t the cause of our crisis, but its symptom. Yes, as symptoms go, he’s a doozy, and getting rid of him will feel great.

But let’s not presume that a federal government led by Democrats, whether centrist or socialist, will come equipped with magic wands. After all, most of our underlying problems aren’t directly accessible via government. They might even be hardwired into the cognitive limits of our species.

So: Are we capable of Making Things Better? I dunno. Maybe. Can we stop aggressively Making Things Worse? Sure! Why not? Let’s try that first!

I write this not to depress you, but to spare myself from my painful tendency toward willful self-delusion. Maybe some of you suffer from similar maladies. Perhaps, by confronting some of our shared illusions, we’ll gain a little personal and collective wisdom,

What good will that do? Who knows? But it sounds like a potentially fun activity for people with no interest in golf, boating or destroying the ideals of America in the name of making it great again.

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