There is a strain of thought in American politics which suggests most of our problems could be solved by a good dose of self-esteem. If we only believed in democracy harder. If we believed in capitalism and the possibility of the American worker. If we believed in our children and their teachers.
If we believe in all of these things then they would get better. America would win wars, create jobs and raise the brightest minds of our future. We just need more self-esteem.
There are plenty of writers who can offer a take-down of tinkerbellism and I encourage them to do so.
However, as is my wont, I want to be a little more Meta about this. There is an aphorism in business that pessimists are more accurate but optimists get more things done. A favorite professor of mind used to say that we can mock the MBA cheerleading squads all we want but they are the ones driving new Mercedes while we are the ones fixing our own cars.
That is, to say that for all its seeming ridiculousness the cult of positivity at least seems to work. Yes, there could be some psuedo-effect where the only people are able to maintain that go-get-em disposition are those who by luck are winning anyway. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in that basket.
Nor, if we step outside ourselves for a moment, should the fact that the tinkerbellism are so often factually wrong deter our faith in tinkerbellism. The common wisdom acknowledges that they are wrong but suggests that they are more successful anyway.
And, since the ultimate goal of policy is not to be right but to be successful in improving the human condition, we have to be mindful of the potential usefulness of tinkerbellism