It's the political season, and in California that means a lot of talk about "realism." Ballot initiatives are often defended against criticism of their flaws with the defense that the initiatives represent political "realism" -- that is to say, they can pass.
By the same token, good ideas are routinely dismissed as "unrealistic" if they don't poll well in the here and now. The result of all this talk about realism and the unrealistic is a political culture that's totally divorced from, well, reality.
Think about this. The notion of a constitutional convention is widely dismissed as crazy, overly ambitious and, of course, "unrealistic." But ballot initiatives are realistic, because they can pass.
That's one way to look at it. But here's another. In California's it's considered realistic to fix the constitution -- a complicated, 160,000 word document -- with one small amendment at a time, passed by initiative. But it's considered unrealistic and irresponsible to rewrite the whole document so it actually makes sense.
This isn't the only example of where Californian notions of realism don't seem all that real. A few examples: