All Hope and No Change

Posted: May 11, 2012 12:30 PM
All Hope and No Change

Thales of Miletus, considered one of the first philosophers, said, that hope is the most abundant thing in the world, because even when you have absolutely nothing, hey, at least you still have hope.

We’re not seeing a whole lot of hope coming out of the Obama campaign this time around, despite whatever Thales might have said. Remember the good old days, when Senator Obama—without the gray hair!—analyzed for us the concept of hope? He waxed poetically its very definition, its meaning, on this magical substance that he had invented and was now selling for 5 trillion borrowed dollars.

?“Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”

What’s curious is that insisting on something despite all evidence to the contrary sounds a lot like blind optimism and ignoring the roadblocks that stand in our path. Regardless, why we need a United States Senator to explain for us what hope means, or how any of this logorrhea might bear on policy is still a complete mystery to everyone who was paying attention in those heady days, five trillion dollars ago.?

Hope was even in the title of his book about himself—his second one, excuse me—a title taken from a sermon given by Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

As in 2008, President Obama is running on biography, personality, and on the perceived faults of his opponent, or of people associated with his opponent. He must believe that the above tactics will work or else he would not be running such a campaign.

But we’re not hearing about hope anymore.

This year’s version of “hope and change” is “forward.” It’s a term just as empty of content as “hope and change,” something that no one can disagree with. It’s easy to see why it’s so useful.

But it’s also easy to see that it’s stupid.

Chesterton says in Heretics, that “progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative.” That is, to say that we’re “progressive,” or going “forward,” we have to have some goal in mind, some ideal toward which we are striving. It is a term only for people of a shared faith.

But Obama has no ideal, no goal. There is no improved future that he is promising us. All he offers us is more

He is instead, blinded by the beam in his eye, trying to remove the splinter from Mitt Romney’s eye.

It is customary, of course, for an incumbent to go negative. But Obama is so cynical that even when he does tout the one undeniable bright spot on his record—the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seal Team Six—he goes negative with it, asking if Mitt Romney would have made the same decision.

?This is a counterfactual, which means that you can’t disprove it or even talk about it meaningfully. Hence its usefulness to Team Obama. They’ll take what-might-have-happened any day or what-actually-has-happened. Don’t believe me? See all their rationalizations about the weakness of our recovery from the recession. By their standards, anything other than the Great Depression would be a victory.

?Team Romney, while certainly going negative early, has actually been the Party of Hope in this cycle. Romney’s election slogan is “Believe in America.” This, too, is light on content, but not quite so destitute of meaning as anything Team Obama has put out. It’s simple optimism—don’t count us out. Forward? That depends on what direction you’re facing, and the vast majority of Americans think that we’re headed in the wrong one.

?If even the President, Mr. Hope and Change himself, has given up on hope, then our country might be hopeless too.