The Politics of Fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Obi Wan has taught you well, you have controlled your fear; now release your anger, only your hatred can destroy me!

James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The two quotes above perfectly encapsulates how fear is a great motivator that is best controlled.

Politicians often use our collective fears to get us to vote them into power, even if that vote turns out to be a detriment to our own well-being.

In an ideal world, the politicians who seek to become or remain our leaders seek to bring us all together. However the old saying that “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” makes that kind of idealism very difficult to turn into a reality. We human beings simply do not operate in such an idealistic way, ergo, politicians take advantage of our pluralistic divisions to satisfy their political ends.

Politicians are consummate opportunists and the most powerful tool at their disposal is fear. Fear is how politicians convince large enough groups of people to vote their way. Politicians string together voting blocs, they do not “bring people together”, and yes there is a difference between the two things.

Demographics play a large role in how voting blocs are created. Demographics are a key indicator of how people vote or whether they vote at all, as well as for whom they vote.

Oldsters are the most reliable voting bloc. This is why Social Security and Medicare are considered “third-rail” political issues and the fear factor concerning their perpetually impending insolvency is a very useful tool to play oldsters against the younger generations who want a new deal as well as the younger folks who want both programs around when they are old enough to collect benefits.

Education and income levels are also a good indicator of who is likely to vote. The higher the education and/or income level, the more likely a person is to vote. People with high incomes have interests to protect and since education tends to be an indication of income, education provides the requisite efficacy to turnout to vote.

The poor and poorly educated are less likely to turnout to vote, despite a certain 2016 presidential candidate remarking that he “loves the poorly educated”. That we hold elections in the middle of the work week in this country speaks volumes, but that is a different topic for another day.

Democrats play on the fears and concerns of minorities and white liberals. Republicans play on the racial fears and resentment of minorities that some whites hold. This is hardly “bringing people together” and it is naive to think any politician operates otherwise.

The key for us plebeians is to understand that fear itself is nothing to fear and using that understanding to control our fears instead of releasing our anger since our anger will never destroy that which we allow our fears to make us hate.

-The Rational Ram

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