web analytics

Hope – A powerful but dangerous tool.

Written By: - Date published: 9:40 am, April 2nd, 2018 - 27 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, making shit up, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, useless - Tags: , ,

Hope is one of the most galvanising and powerful emotions. It is the thing that has driven some of our greatest achievements as a species. It has kept people alive in times of despair and sorrow. It has driven movements for social change, such as the abolition of slavery or civil rights movement. Hope is essential. Without it humanity cannot move forward.

But when hope is lost, it can be utterly devastating. Worse it can result in other powerful emotions, ones that drive people not to do good, but ill.

Its now a decade since the rise of Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential Primary. After 8 years of the Bush administration, American liberals and much of the world were very cynical about the US politics. At the start of the presidential primary, the likely Democrat nominee was Hilary Clinton, who like her husband Bill was seen as Republic Lite. Chicago Lawyer and Senator Barack Obama surprised many in the political class through his upset victory in the primary.

Obama offered hope. He ran on a platform of improving health care, closing Guantanamo Bay, improving labour (labor in the US) rights and being a genuinely reformist president. The first since the Reagan years. In short, Obama offered hope to the poorest, disenfranchised and alienated sectors of American society who’d been ignored for decades.

When elected president later that year, the Democratic Party also held majorities in both houses. He was the first Democrat President to achieve this in over half a century. This wasn’t to last long.

Weeks into his presidency the financial crises was really starting to bite. Banks, having been bailed out by the US government, proceeded to pay their executives bonuses and foreclose on working people who couldn’t pay their mortgages. Meanwhile Obama’s economic team was packed with Wall Street insiders.

His big achievement in his first term, and in fact his presidency was healthcare. He did more than any other president to pursue this cause. However the Republicans fought him every step of the way. The end product was very much a compromised Obama Care package, which low to middle income Americans had to pay the cost of.

For most of Obama’s time in office he faced a hostile Republican Party who from 2010 had a majority in Congress and eventually also in the Senate. However early in his presidency he didn’t help himself. One of Obama’s criticisms of the previous Bush administration, was the way it tried to force Congress and Senate to support the Presidents legislation. During the health care reforms in 2009, Obama at first tried to find a compromise with Republicans, and wanted to respect the independent powers of both houses. Very noble. Politically inept. The Bush administration knew how to drive a policy agenda, and used this to full advantage after 9/11. By contrast Obama’s respect for the constitution, gave Republicans space have a go.

I regard Obama as the best US President in my lifetime (I was born in the 80s during the Reagan era). On Gun Control for example I think he did the best he could. He was ultimately a disappointing President. Obama promised hope, and intended to deliver that through the US political system. The problem is, that system is flawed. He gave people hope in a political system which couldn’t deliver on the promise.

We all know what happened next. Hope turned to Anger. Donald Trump’s call to drain the Swamp in Washington resonated. Both Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Trump surprised commentators by their rise in support. Both talked of a broken political system, a message that clearly resonated with large sections of the American public.

America isn’t the only country where people have been offered hope, only to be bitterly disappointed. This little ditty about Nick Clegg, former Liberal Democrat leader in the UK shows similar frustration in a politician who in 2010 had given many hope for change. Recent Italian elections saw the crushing defeat of the Democratic Party, who only a few years earlier had won on a promise of hope.

The reality is that hope is a very powerful tool to use on an election campaign. Nothing motivates people to head to the ballot box like the hope that their lives may get better. But nothing will turn people off politics more than having this hope dashed. Worse it can drive people to the politics of anger and hate, which sadly the world is seeing more and more of.

In politics, and life generally people should be offered hope. But this hope needs to be real. If you give people hope in something, you need to be able to see it through. Giving people hope, only to disappoint later is a cruel, damaging and irresponsible. To give people hope and then deliver, is by contrast one of the most positive and powerful things you can do as human.

27 comments on “Hope – A powerful but dangerous tool.”

  1. Carolyn_Nth 1

    Good post. I have hoped for change too many times since the 70s. Had my hopes raised too many times: in the US, as in the post; from UK Tories to Blair; from Nats to Clark…. and now I don’t have much hope left.

    The wealthy and powerful elites will just not stand by and let people power, or power for the people happen. When change seems likely, they come out swinging. So after Clark we got 9 years of destruction of the commons; of punitive, mean policies for the less well off.

    A weak, appeasing, nominally left government will not bring significant, lasting change.

    The right play dirty, and for keeps. Left wing parties require a strong left wing movement leading the way, plus awareness of what we are up against.

    • Bill 1.1

      When I was a kid, like others my age all across Europe, I invested quite a bit of hope in Mikhail Gorbachev.

      That was the first time and also the last.

      These days politicians or political parties may get my conditional support. But my eye is set on possibilities they may open up for us – the invisible – never on what any politician or political party promotes as a final goal.

      Also hope was the last thing in Pandora’s box, yes? Do the evils spring from hope or exist in spite of hope? Regardless, without despair there can be no hope. So a world without hope would be a fine place 🙂

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Also hope was the last thing in Pandora’s box, yes?

        Yep, the one thing that never got out into the world. Perhaps that’s the problem.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      The right play dirty, and for keeps. Left wing parties require a strong left wing movement leading the way, plus awareness of what we are up against.

      QFT

      We don’t have a strong Left-wing government. Instead, what we have, is a weak Right-wing one. The main ‘left’ party is too scared to actually be Left.

      • Ed 1.2.1

        As per usual, Draco, you hit the nail on the head.
        We have a tweedledee government.
        Then if the Nats get voted in we get tweedledum.
        Both right wing. One just slightly less right wing than the other.
        Both neoliberal. One just slightly less neoliberal than the other.

      • Adrian Thornton 1.2.2

        @ Draco T Bastard +1

    • Adrian Thornton 1.3

      +1 Carolyn_Nth…”A weak, appeasing, nominally left government will not bring significant, lasting change.
      The right play dirty, and for keeps. Left wing parties require a strong left wing movement leading the way, plus awareness of what we are up against.”

      Corbyn/Sanders have both shown what offering citizens real Left Wing hope can do, how fast despair can be turned in to motivation and mobilization, how the disenfranchised can feel engaged and strong, and demand to be heard..it is so sad we lost Helen Kelly she could have been that catalyst to action in NZ…maybe there is someone else..?

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    The sage goes by knowledge, not by hope;
    He dwells in the fruit, not the flower;
    He accepts the former, and rejects the latter.

    Lao Tzu.

    • weka 2.1

      we should tend the flowers too if we want the fruit (and just because it’s a good thing to do).

      How much gardening did Lao Tzu do?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        Less than me by the looks – and I don’t garden.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2

        History is silent on the subject. He clearly knew enough about it to choose the flower as a metaphor for hope though.

        He also wrote:

        Be humble as earth and a part of Nature.
        In this way
        Friendship and enmity,
        Profit and loss,
        Honour and disgrace,
        Will not affect you.
        The impartial Self is of most benefit to the World.

        • weka 2.1.2.1

          Maybe. The metaphor works, but it’s also problematic because rejecting the flower can mean we don’t get any fruit.

        • Muttonbird 2.1.2.2

          He’s also part of a culture which has never, ever had a democratic vote.

          • McFlock 2.1.2.2.1

            To be fair, the CCP did try initially. Didn’t really work in the late 40s – people kept asking who they were instructed to vote freely for.

            Then they wanted things to fix for their new utopia, and launched the Hundred Flowers campaign. But the nurturing of different ideas ended up that a lot of those flowers were “maybe something other than Communism”, so that got scotched.

            Now they have a president for life.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.2.2

            So what? The notion that we should judge ideas by results is hardly anathema to democracy, although I understand why the National Party might blanche at the prospect.

            • Muttonbird 2.1.2.2.2.1

              You could say that China has an unfair advantage not being saddled with the burden of democracy! 🙂

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                People who know China better than I cite the absence of the rule of law as the most significant factor. I don’t think it confers an advantage, though: rather it encourages nepotism and human rights abuses, which stunt its potential.

  3. SPC 3

    The key is (focused on message) persistence in restoring public provision capability upon removing a right wing government.

    In Obama’s case the Republicans ran an alternative media/Fox media campaign of fear to win back Congress, here it will come more through the MSM, as per 2000.

    Clark’s 1999 government wound back the Housing Corp reforms (sell offs and market rents), this time there is the same in education (the announced policy changes, plus increasing the number of and pay for teachers). Drawing a line in the sand.

    There is also beginning the long process to increase state housing stock (70,000 with 3M and 70,000 with 5M is a huge change, especially when home ownership is falling). And adequate funding for health.

    Quite apart from dealing with the former governments lack of planning for sufficient housing supply (while running high immigration) with Kiwibuild, and the related impact on (child) poverty deriving from high rent (overcrowding) – better rental standards will help.

  4. Sacha 4

    Can we please have a byline on this post.

  5. timeforacupoftea 5

    Jesus man ! your guest Post wrote
    .

    Timeforacupoftea wrote.
    Jesus man !
    I would hate you being in my team.
    Obama was a terrible man and a terrible President.
    He could have at least lowered the killings in his own state Chicago where 3,917 murders during his tenure took place and mainly blacks killing blacks.

    During Obama’s tenure in the White House, 3,917 people were murdered in Chicago, police records show.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/10/us/obama-hope-farewell-chicago/index.html

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/13/barack-obama-legacy-racism-criminal-justice-system

    Thousands and thousands killed during Obamas tenure.

    Obama orded drone strikes killed children and women

    Obama embraced the US drone programme, overseeing more strikes in his first year than Bush carried out during his entire presidency. A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries, according to reports logged by the Bureau.

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush

    • D'Esterre 5.1

      Timeforacupoftea: “Obama was a terrible man and a terrible President.”

      I was wondering how long it would be before somebody pointed out the uncomfortable truth about Obama. Talk about feet of clay…..

      Liberals expected great things of him, because he was a Democrat. But US foreign policy has been essentially unchanged since at least the end of WW2: presidents come and go, but they find out pretty smartly that they cannot change the foreign policy trajectory. No matter their political affiliations, they are suborned by the Establishment: that collection of unelected government officials who ensure that the White House incumbent does as he’s told. In that regard, Obama was no different from his predecessors – or his successor, come to that.

      Guest Post: “I regard Obama as the best US President in my lifetime…”

      I’ve been around a lot longer than the author; all US presidents in my lifetime – including Donald Trump – have been broadly similar. Republicans are slightly more right-wing than Democrats. But only slightly. They all follow established US foreign policy, and domestic policy isn’t vastly different, whether Republican or Democrat. The only difference with Trump is that we now have Twitter. So we hear in real time, so to speak, what he’s thinking and saying, instead of finding out such things only after a president’s left office, as used to be the case.

  6. Incognito 6

    Hope springs eternal.

    I have to confess that I feel ambiguous about hope. To me, it seems to have an element of wishful thinking and this can lead to unrealistic expectations. Coupled to this is that hope is often externalised and directed at another (higher) force/source; we are powerless and it is in the hand of the gods. The paradox of hope is that is has to be grounded in reality and be realistic. As with all emotions, hope can be (used as) a very good motivator, a strong driver of action and change.

  7. gsays 7

    Derrick Jensen, hardcore US environmentalist, left a lasting impression on me in regards to hope.
    In his book, endgame, he describes hope as an attitude when you no longer have agency or influence.
    F#/! hope is his conclusion.
    To be fair his agency extends to blowing up dams so salmon could spawn.

    It is a lot more rational and reasonable when reading in long form.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Advancing New Zealand’s trade agenda focus of Europe meetings
    World Trade Organisation reform, agricultural trade and a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom will be the focus of Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker’s visit to Europe this week. David Parker leaves on Tuesday for a series of meetings in the UK and Switzerland that aim ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Minister of Defence to visit counterparts in US and Canada
    The Minister of Defence, Ron Mark, departed today for the United States and Canada where he will meet with his counterparts.  While in Canada Minister Mark will meet with his counterpart, Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.  “New Zealand and Canada are close friends, and share an instinctive like-mindedness on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Government to deliver family carers $2000 pay rise, expand scheme to spouses this year
    The Coalition Government is delivering this year the changes to Funded Family Care the disability sector has long-asked for, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. “Today we are announcing the details of our big changes to Funded Family Care, including an annual average pay boost of $2,246.40 for funded ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ko te reo kua mū: Piri Sciascia
    Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta joins te ao Māori in their sorrow as they learn of the loss of one of the great orators and spokespersons of a generation – Piri Sciascia.  “The son of Pōrangahau was a staunch advocate for Māori development and served his people for over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister opens new ecosanctuary at Cape Farewell
    A new ecosanctuary with a predator proof fence on Golden Bay’s Cape Farewell, which will restore a safe home for sea birds, rare native plants, giant snails, and geckos, was officially opened today by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “There has been a fantastic community effort supported by the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific partners work together to provide additional support to Australia
    The NZDF continues to support the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles fires in Victoria and New South Wales, including by transporting Republic of Fiji Military engineers from Nadi to Australia, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark. On Saturday morning a NZDF Boeing 757 will depart New Zealand to uplift ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Kaikōura $10.88 million boost in tourism & business
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, the following two projects will receive PGF funding: A $9.88 million investment to begin the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt accounts in surplus, debt remains low
    The Government’s books are in good shape with the accounts in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the five months to November. The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was above forecast by $0.7 billion resulting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Auckland focus for first Police graduation of 2020
    The number of Police on the Auckland frontline is increasing with the graduation today of a special locally-trained wing of new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of eighteen officers from Recruit Wing 333-5 means that more than 1900 new Police have been deployed since the Coalition Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Wairarapa gets $7.11m PGF water boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund is putting $7.11 million into creating a sustainable water supply for Wairarapa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The following two projects will receive Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding: A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Limited for the pre-construction development of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Progress with new Police station in Mahia
    Community safety and crime prevention in the East Coast community of Mahia has moved forward with the opening of a new Police station to serve the growing coastal settlement. Police Minister Stuart Nash has officially opened the new station, which was relocated almost 20 kilometres along the coast from the nearby ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Plans to protect the future of whitebaiting announced
    With several native whitebait species in decline the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has today released proposals to standardise and improve management of whitebait across New Zealand. “The need for action for a healthy whitebait fishery has never been greater,” Eugenie Sage said.  “Four of the six whitebait species are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New resource for schools to increase awareness and understanding of climate change
    A new Ministry of Education resource available for schools in 2020 will increase awareness and understanding of climate change, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The resource, Climate Change – prepare today, live well tomorrow, will help students understand the effects of climate change at a local, national and global ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Getting more out of our most productive firms
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has approved the terms of reference for an Inquiry into the economic contribution of New Zealand's frontier firms. Frontier firms are the most productive firms in the domestic economy within their own industry. “These firms are important as they diffuse new technologies and business practices into ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZDF sends more support to Australia
    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is sending an Environmental Health Team, a Primary Health Care Team and a Chaplain to Australia, boosting New Zealand support for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles bush fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand joins partners in calling for full investigation into air crash in Iran
    Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters says that developments suggesting a surface-to-air missile is responsible for the downing of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight in Iran is disastrous news. “New Zealand offers its deepest sympathies to the families of the 176 victims. It is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Staying connected to Australian agriculture
    Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, says the Ministry for Primary Industries is continuing to stay connected to federal authorities in Australia as devastating fires affect the country.  “The Ministry is using an existing trans-Tasman forum for discussions on the agricultural impact of the fires and the future recovery phase,” says Damien ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment in schools – a commitment to communities
    Thousands of school-age children, their teachers and wider communities are benefiting from the Government’s multi-million dollar investment upgrading and renewing schools, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “We want New Zealand to be the best place to be a child and that means learning in warm, comfortable and modern classrooms,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Defence Force sends support to Australia
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark today announced New Zealand is sending three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, and two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires.  The New Zealand Defence Force ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better access to books for blind and low vision citizens on World Braille Day
    "Today is World Braille Day and I am delighted to announce that an international treaty giving blind and low vision New Zealanders access to books and literary works comes into force today,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “Today the Marrakesh Treaty and the associated amendments to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand to send further firefighter support to Australia
    The New Zealand Government is sending a further 22 firefighters to help fight the Australian fires. “The devastation caused by these fires is taking a substantial toll on our Australian neighbours and we will continue to do what we can to assist as they deal with this extremely dynamic, dangerous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Reducing the cost of education
    Twenty-two more schools have opted into the Government’s policy of providing $150 per child to schools who don’t ask parents for donations– bringing the total number of schools in the policy to 1,585. The Ministry of Education has accepted late opt ins past the November 14 deadline from schools that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Road deaths lower in 2019, but still more work to do
    “As we enter the new decade, my thoughts are with the families, friends and communities of the 353 people who lost their lives in road crashes last year. While the number of deaths is lower than in 2018 (377), this is still a staggering loss of life,” Duty Minister Iain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago