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Don't despair over Boris Johnson – it's time for some optimism

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Sterling slipped just a little on confirmation of Boris Johnson’s ascent, but another currency plunged: optimism. His was a triumph of self-belief, buoyed by privilege and untethered to ability or vision, magical thinking without any magic or any thinking. “We are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity,” he declared in his victory speech, “with better education, better infrastructure, more police, fantastic full-fibre broadband sprouting in every household.” It’s hard to say which aspect of this list was more revealing – its lack of ambition or the scepticism it prompted over his capacity to deliver even minor improvements to the nation’s broadband. Who even among his newly minted cabinet truly believes the central pledge of his premiership: a Brexit, deal or no deal, that boosts anything apart from the Conservative party or its new leader? In peddling Brexit lies in place of genuine aspiration, Johnson has devalued hope itself.

Enthusiasm among a rump of musty old Marxists for a no-deal Brexit to speed the revolution amplifies this effect by ignoring the inevitable toll it would exact on everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Yet hope – grounded in reality – remains the best and only antidote to the regressive rightwing populism now flourishing on both sides of the Atlantic. Switching off the news may feel like self-care, but the surest way to feel better is to make things better. Optimism is a........

© The Guardian