Why are options that suggest a rejection of status quo politics popular today? This study suggests that an overlooked and important source of disappointment in government is the unrealistically optimistic expectations many Americans hold. At the surface it seems almost paradoxical: Americans generally tend to be quite optimistic, while at the same time they are negative and cynical about politics. This research suggests that because strong optimists have such high expectations, they react to political disappointments much more negatively than do those who have more modest expectations, thus reducing trust in government and belief in the system. The disappointed optimist seeks remedies for their disappointment, and in so doing, embraces the political unknown, whether embodied in an inexperienced, ideologically vague political leader such as Colin Powell, a third political party, or the mystery men and women who would be called into service after term limits remove incumbents from office.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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