Wish-Casting, by The Zman

Fantasy and wishful thinking are the life’s blood of current politics. From The Zman at theburningplatform.com:

Hope and optimism are the two things that propel life forward. Sometimes they lead to disaster, but often enough they lead to good results. Innovation, after all, is rooted in hope and optimism. If cynicism were the default for mankind, we would never have taken a shot on that new thing called the wheel. Risk taking requires a degree of foolish optimism and a hope that this time things will be different. On the other hand, too much optimism becomes escapism, a way to avoid reality.

If it were possible to measure hope and optimism, specifically misplaced hope and optimism, in a society, it would probably be a useful metric. A people unrealistically hopeful for the future are probably filled with dread, because their current situation is seemingly hopeless. Instead of grimly facing the reality of their situation, many choose to cast their hopes and aspirations onto someone or something. The popularity of wish-casting increases as the situation declines.

An example of this would be the Obama presidency. Few people talk about him these days, even though his term ended just five years ago. When he ran for office, however, his fans talked about him like he was Jesus. Despite his embarrassingly thin resume, they projected onto him the image of black Lincoln. There was little reason to think this man would do much of anything, given his nature and the people around him, but his fans were sure he was going to usher in the golden age.

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