People who don't know how to make use of optimism often think that it is mainly an emotional attitude. The reality is that optimism is a functional framework of thinking that can help in problem solving.
In this sense, pessimism is often merely a disguised excuse for laziness. One place where this can be easily seen and verified is when playing cards.
Often a player will be placed in a situation at the end of a hand where she does not know where a certain critical card is. She knows that if the card is held by her partner, there is still a way to win the hand. If the card is held by her opponent, all is lost.
The proper play in this situation is to simply assume that her partner has the card. After all, if the opponent has it, there is nothing that can be done. There is nothing to be gained from assuming the worst, and by assuming the best, we can discern the correct course of action.
Yet it is very common for a player to blunder in such a situation and, after the hand, offer the excuse that "I thought you didn't have the Ace." This reflects a pessimistic outlook that is of no use, except of course as an excuse for not thinking things through.
This principle is central to the debate within the Democratic Party about what sort of policy platform to adopt. The mantra of the DLC set is that the American people will never accept a truly progressive platform that puts working people ahead of corporate profits, commits to working within the structure of international law to resolve foreign policy issues, and brings responsible land and energy use to the forefront of our national consciousness.
These men may well be right. If they are, all is lost. Those of us who see this must thus assume, despite all evidence to the contrary, real or imagined, that they are mistaken.