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Are we seeing the death of political optimism?

Optimism used to provide its own grounds for hope in elections. But not anymore

By Gaby Hinsliff   October 2019

A customer raises a glass to Barack Obama during a celebration in 2008. Photo: PA

Yes, we can. Things can only get better. Wir schaffen das—or as Boris Johnson translated it from Angela Merkel’s original German, “we can do this.”

What all these political slogans have in common is that they’re optimistic, positively brimming with confident, can-do spirit. They may sound suspiciously vague, but voters buy into such expressions of self-belief, if only because it beats being told that one’s country is sinking into a decline that nobody quite…

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