I know many liberals who are angry and scared. But deep down, they still believe it will be OK. Deep down they think our situation is bad- but not cataclysmic, that somehow, something, someone will save us. When they become afraid, they sooth themselves by asking, “really, how bad could it get?”

They suffer from a failure of pessimism.

They look at their prosperous big cities, cozy suburbs and quaint towns.  They sit in traffic, take their kids to school, go to work, shop at the grocery store. They look around and it all seems so normal. They cannot really imagine fascism here.

They think that the break down of society and civil order only happens in third world countries or in the black and white photos of history.  They cannot imagine their routine comfortable existence ceasing to exist.

Interestingly, the people I know who do not suffer from this failure of pessimism are Jews. We hear the echoes of the past. Our history rings in our ears and sends chills down our spines. We know, deep in our bones, that it is always possible. We know that functional societies fail. We know atrocities happen when nationalism sweeps a country and neighbors turn away in willful blindness. We know that propaganda can win, that the rule of law can be suspended, that democracies fail, that demonized groups become dehumanized groups and that people are capable of unspeakable violence.

Pessimism is in our DNA. This is why so many of the voices you hear urging people to take the rise of Trump seriously are Jews. Krugman, Gabler, Kagan, Baron, Rosen  Gopnik and others sound the alarm. (There are of course non-Jews who are sounding the alarm.)

The parallels to the rise of Hitler are striking and need not be repeated here. You can find them everywhere (see links above).

But to those who think we are safe, remember that Aleppo was once a thriving and cosmopolitan city (check out these horrifying before and after photos).

Remember that democracies do not come back from authoritarian rule without violence.

To those who think that liberal states like California, New York and Massachusetts can somehow secede, remember that the last time states tried that was the civil war.  That did not end well.

Perhaps we are being alarmist. But I fear not.

We have had a failure of pessimism.

We did not believe a candidate could be openly racist and win in the polls.

We did not believe Trump would be the nominee.

We did not believe Trump would recover from insulting the Khans.

We did not believe Trump would recover from the entertainment tonight tapes.

We did not believe Trump would win the election.

We did not believe he would appoint Bannon or Flynn.

We did not believe the extent of Trump’s conflicts of interest.

We did not believe Russia could really tamper with our election.

We have had a failure of pessimism.

Whatever you think can’t/won’t happen. Think again.

Take your worst fear, amplify it and then prepare.

Optimism has not served us well.