“They yearned to believe”
That technocratic ascetism is what bugged me about both presidential candidates and I suppose, if I’m honest, the way that people projected idealism I didn’t see onto them bugged me just as much. (Obama was a genuine historical breakthrough, however, which I always appreciated and which made me feel the emotion of the moment in ways that Carter never did.) And as a card carrying member of the Now Generation, I certainly recall the assumption that this huge demographic bulge was destined to make America more liberal for the next 50 years simply because of our very existence. (And then came the 80s …)
Frank’s point is that liberals are always fooling themselves into the belief that we need “intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right—the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent—is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader.” And I get that. Who doesn’t want a well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader?