The Politics of Fear



I grew up with parents who had little to no interest in politics. They were staunch adherents to the Republican party and voted for the candidates of that party without thinking much about it. I took little interest in the political scene until I met Stephen, who is a student of history and follows the ins and outs of politics. I now listen and learn, and I consider myself to be an informed voter. What I don’t like is the inability of many of the current candidates to do more than spout what they want people to hear, and most especially in order to manipulate them, to slant what they say to appeal to their desire to be safe.

Too often candidates for election seem to try get votes by playing upon the fears of those they hope will vote for them. As I have said before and probably will say many times again: Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. The reason it appears real is that it is based on belief, not facts. Stephen and I once had a remarkable spiritual teacher who taught us that all is a belief, and that you can change your beliefs if they are not working for you.

For instance, if I believe that this country is in deep trouble, ready to crumble into doom and destruction as some say it is, then that is my belief, and it is fostered by those who would manipulate me into doing what they want me to do. However it may not be the truth. There are statistics to prove otherwise. Check out the articles by those who do not believe this. There is plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary. This is especially true of global warming. However it is difficult to argue with belief. It is based on emotion not reason.

There may or may not be any hard facts to bolster a person’s belief, however these are not as important to the believer as the adherence to what is believed. People believe what they wish to, or what suits their outlook on life, or even what is important to them personally. I recall my parents railing against President Roosevelt because he had instituted social security, never mind how much help it was to how many people. They believed it was a bad idea. It is natural to have beliefs and we all have them. It may however be important to examine one’s beliefs from time to time.

I strongly believe that it is wrong to try to sell anything no matter how helpful it may seem by pitching it in terms of fear. “If you do not buy this, this terrible thing will happen.” I reject this approach because I feel it is dirty to play on people’s fears. It tries to undercut rationality and good sense in order to appeal to people’s need to feel safe. Because it is key to survival, one of the most basic needs of an infant is safety. I won’t vote for a candidate that tries to frighten me. To me that is not ethical; honest behavior and factual statements will guide my choice of whom to vote for.

Tasha Halpert