What is a Political Optimist? Episode 5

A political optimist is a person wearing the false clothing of optimism. Yes, this is an oxymoron, two words combined that create a contradiction. Political means false; optimism means best. Political optimism is the false best. Specifically, it is a person who politicizes optimism.

We never really used the word politicize years ago. We used partisan. We shifted to political because political takes the side of power. Partisan takes the side of party. The shift to political accommodates more conniving and cunning that dominates society today. By the way, I take the side of people and I reject power and party as a genuine focus.

Anyway, political optimists are controlling people from a distance. That’s the key. They do everything from a distance. They impose confidence from an elitist distance and they manage from a distance. They are like outside consultants telling you how to handle an inside crisis. They look and sound close, but in truth, their heart is far from you.

Have you every chased a rainbow? With every step you take to get closer to the rainbow, it moves away. This is a political optimist. They glimmer but you can never get close enough feel any warmth.

Political optimists are charlatans. They politicize the spirit of optimism, which is to say they do not promote the optimum or best of anything; they promote only what sounds good. They charge the air with their capital success without any attempt to understand your concerned mind. In a way, greater success separates the political person from the responsibility of genuine optimism.

Let me tell you what is on my mind. I know this person in my community. He is always full of smiles and pats everyone on the back. He is wealthy and well known in the community. He makes small talk and moves away rather quickly just to make sure nothing serious surfaces. He has served in many community leadership positions; many call him “a good man.” “Oh, that’s Joe,” people say, “he’s a good man.” We call nice guys good men these days. I call them political optimists. Here’s why.

So-called “good men” can take the word optimism and turn it into an attitude of constant and temporary upbeat-ness. They always stay in the shallows. They never really get to know anyone for who they are. They steer clear of real connections. They never swim in the deep. There are better men and women than this, so why call a person “a good man” when that person stays clear of real relationships?

Modern motivational self-help is to blame, in part, but mostly it’s the hierarchy structures we put over us. We emphasize political distance from any open dissent. I call it the mote and the castle.

(Listen to podcast to find out what this is)

Kingdom builders handle disagreement with disdain, as if all dissent is negativism. They even say that a politically correct language improves the workplace, the community, and the family. This is not true. The silencing of discussion, all because someone is trigger, is politicalized optimism; it is the assumption of infallibility in the language. Forced correctness feeds on the worship of authority at the cost of losing agency.

I use the reference of my anonymous Joe because political people use the distance of their success to magically detach themselves from the burdens and disagreements others carry. This is opposite the leader who carries those burdens and openly stands to be questioned. At every turn, political optimists produce top-down, centrally controlled organizations with no access to rise against their authority. This model places leadership at a greater distance from a genuine optimism of dissent. It also explains why people like Joe avoid showing any responsibility toward new ideas, especially challenging ideas. New ideas require him to be more responsible in listening and acting on those ideas. It is best to create a mote around one’s castle to get protection from new ideas entering.

Even though Joe is retired, he is always in a hurry to nowhere. I believe he is in the hurry to get clear of taking any responsible care for another.

For me, I prefer the safeguards of “being genuine” as a counter measure to “being political.” Being genuine teaches how we must stand to be corrected while still questioning authority. I have tried to talk to Joe about this, but he always smiles and walks away to give a temporary moment to the next person in line.

Have you seen a pack rat? This is a person who piles up stuff that they never use or properly dispose of. It is like a political pack rat, which is a person who piles up supposedly important connections purely to advance their own status.

Compare a pack rat to a packhorse. A packhorse carries the load whereas a pack rat hoards the load. Most people are either a political pack rat, or they are a packhorse. Pack rats are political. Packhorses are not.

Political pack rats collect power and position but they never use or properly dispose of power. They give everyone a temporary moment but never a lasting connection. Everything is a transaction, never a relationship. In other words, packrats never give power to those below or to the side. Because their focus is directed toward a power source above them, and often at a distance, they are hard to read. They never carry the load like a packhorse.

Therefore, if you want to learn how to read political people and attract more packhorses into your organization, stop hiring people you can manage and hire people who take responsibility. Stop trying to build relationships with political people. It’s futile.

As in all things rebellious, some undressing will need to take place. We need a bit of bravery within each of us to say openly, “The optimist has no clothes.”

To those afraid of speaking, we often say, “imagine the audience is naked.” Why not say, “Imagine the speaker is naked.” Why not say, “imagine the political person is naked?”

It is just as helpful to see those in leadership undressed and naked, as it is to see the audience naked. It may be the only way to stop the destructive worship of authority over our own minds.

Learning to read political people requires that we see them naked in the community when most remain captivated by their show. When we undress the political person, we quickly see staged acts, underhanded intimidation, and irrational energy. All three attract political pack rats in great numbers.

I wrote a book about this. It is called The Political Optimist. Political Optimists can destroy entire nations and collapse a thriving corporation. If there is one thing alone that will save your business or make for a better society, learning to read political people is that one thing. The second is learning how to deal with them.

When we undress the political person using a fake optimism to cover a shallow connection with the community, we see the same underlying problem that every human confronts, namely a lot of repressed fear.

Have you ever subjected yourself to the cult of one person’s personality? It’s like your entire free agency is suddenly gone. You can’t speak up, ask questions, or offer new ideas. These people demand complete allegiance. If you give off the impression that you cannot be managed or controlled, you will be removed. If you give off the idea that you have ideas, you will not be hired by political people.

In the book, I describe three different kinds of political people, staged personalities, intimidators and irrational minds. They all use a politicized optimism to maintain power and control.

Read the book. It’s available on Amazon and Lulu, and soon to come to Kindle and an audio version.

Just remember, a political optimist is a person wearing the false clothing of optimism. Political means false; optimism means best. Political optimism is the false best. Specifically, it is a person who politicizes optimism.

We do not need these people. We need genuine optimists, people driven to create thriving cultures and open discourse. These are people who demand common consent and they fight against central control. They love discussion and never seek to shut it down. They are purple people, never the extreme, just the silent majority. A renaissance is coming and they are learning how to organize their passion for consent. Get ready, they are rising in voice and vision, and the world will change forever.

About the Author
Keith is the Author of The Political Optimist and you can follow him at genuineoptimist.com. He is a visionary founder of Local Common Wealth (see localcommonwealth.org) and co-founder of Vision Impact Leadership. He is a licensed general contractor at kelschconstruction.com and part time faculty member at Dixie State University.