October 2, 2013
JAMES TARANTO: The Case Against Hope:
This column vigorously disagrees. We resent being told how to feel, and we hope ObamaCare fails, spectacularly and quickly. We hope it fails spectacularly because that would provide an emotionally satisfying dramatic conclusion. If Barack Obama is forced to spend, say, the last two years of his presidency contending with the undeniable failure of his signature initiative, that would be a fitting punishment for the hubris of his first two years, especially since the imposition of ObamaCare on an unwilling country was the main consequence of his hubris.
We hope it fails quickly for an additional reason: to minimize the damage. Imagine if the Post had written a similar editorial in 1917, after the Russian Revolution, titled “Everyone Should Hope Communism Works.” That would have seemed equally high-minded: If communism didn’t work, tens of millions of people would be made miserable.
Which, of course, is precisely what happened over the next 70-plus years. The Post might respond that that’s an argument against communism rather than an argument against hoping communism works. But when you put it that way, it’s not such a clear distinction, is it? The communist revolution would not have succeeded absent a critical mass of people hopeful communism would work. Nor would it have endured as long as it did if no one had an emotional interest in its perpetuation.
Hope, in other words, poses a moral hazard: It can be a species of pathological altruism. And consider the perversity of the Post’s logic as applied to the dramatic arc of Soviet communism: By the editorialists’ reckoning, those of us who cheered the fall of the Berlin Wall were heartless boors indulging in Schadenfreude.
Well, perhaps some of them did feel that way.