Reality-based community is an informal term in the United States, used to refer to people who base their opinions more on observation than on planning—that the people rely on their observation of reality instead of seeking to shape reality in the image of their plans. The term has been defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality." It can be seen as an example of political framing.
The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove):
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Given this origin of the term, and the ultimate failure of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq, the phrase is used as a slogan (particularly by liberal and left-wing speakers) to argue that a person is 'outside the reality-based community': that their political plan is unrealistic, poorly planned or based on ideology and unlikely to succeed.
- Danner, Mark (2007), "Words in a Time of War: On Rhetoric, Truth and Power", in Szántó, András, What Orwell Didn't Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics (First ed.), PublicAffairs, p. 17, ISBN 978-1-58648-560-3,
... the unnamed official speaking to Suskind is widely known to be none other than the self-same architect of the aircraft-carrier moment, Karl Rove ...
- Suskind, Ron (2004-10-17). "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush". The New York Times Magazine. ISSN 0028-7822. Retrieved 2007-05-22.