The Power of Political Optimism

There is a difference between optimism and naïveté. In politics today, optimism offers conservatives an inexhaustible source of infectious power that can overcome and shatter the foundations of the establishment’s fear-based version of “populism.” Indeed it is naïve to think any other approach has a chance.

Optimism has insurrectionary power because it contradicts everything the American establishment now trains voters to accept. From uniparty conformists and their corporate, academic, and media allies who package and spread the messages, to deep state agencies and plutocrats who decide on the messages, there is a common theme: pessimism. And when pessimism impels us to believe in worst-case scenarios, panic follows close behind.

What else might explain every rote proclamation that the world is coming to an end because of the climate crisis? What else explains why millions of American children are coping with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness for the future? They’ve been convinced the earth is on the brink of burning up. What else accounts for educated adults utterly convinced that the planet may soon be uninhabitable? What else lends apocalyptic context to every report—a staple now part of all reporting on hurricanes, floods, or winter storms?

It isn’t merely the end of our planetary biosphere that has turned half the nation into compliant defeatists. Along with the climate emergency we have a health emergency that even now finds millions of Americans afraid to congregate, afraid to take off their masks, afraid to get a job or go to school.

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