‘Hope’ has become something of a catchword in contemporary civic and political dis-course. In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama published The Audacity of Hope, his visionary manifesto, which was followed two years later by now-iconic presidential election campaign posters, boldly and simply proclaiming ‘HOPE’ to masses of American voters. Over the past decade, we have witnessed the powerful enthusiasm the promise of hope can bring to a civil society desperately longing for a hope-filled politics.
Even so, there are those who would warn against an easy alliance between hope and politics. Some, we might call them ‘realists’, believe that political hope must be severely chastened. The realm of politics aims merely at forestalling the ‘worst-imaginable’ possibilities by attending to the ‘art of the possible’. Better not to raise your hopes too high. Others, rather cynically, claim that politics is an essentially hopeless endeavour, where deceit reigns in the acquisition of power, and where power, once possessed, corrupts its holder. Then there are political activists who fear that hope—especially religious hope—tends to distract believers from the hard work of politics, resulting in a disengaged and otherworldly quietism. For the realist, hope is dangerous. For the cynic, hope is naïve. For the activist, hope is an opiate.
Pickell, Travis, "Allan Aubrey Boesak, With Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff, Dare We Speak of Hope? Searching For A Language of Life in Faith and Politics. Reviewed by Travis Pickell" (2016). Faculty Publications - George Fox School of Theology. 396.