|Imagine walking into either of the major American political party’s National Convention. What might you see? My first thoughts bring me to a renovated stadium, a grand stage garnished in either blue or red, an endless stream of red white and blue balloons, and a horde of people screaming and waving signs in approval of their candidate. Then important people taking the stage to take turns giving speeches while screaming mantras that the audience can’t get enough of. “Make America great again!” “I'm with her!”.
There is little to distinguish one convention from the other. Change the color of the room and you would be confused as to which convention you are in. That is of course until someone started speaking. Or at least you might think. It is not just the aesthetic of the conventions that make them similar, it's the way the rhetoric makes the audience feel.
You guessed it from the title, I am here to discuss fear.
Fear is an incredibly powerful motivator. It cuts the thinking out of forming an idea. Like a shortcut. After 9/11 policies buffing up security in the U.S. sped through the political system like wildfire without a question as to whether or not they were restricting the rights of people. The fear of terrorism trumped any rational concerns. Whether or not you believe in the policies you can not deny that fear made them law.
Back to the conventions and more recent politics. Let’s have a look at the enormous pile of fear that will be overhauled at these conventions. Remember that some of this fear is completely rational and politicians might be admirable in pointing it out and getting the supporters passionate. Fear is not always bad. Some of it is garbage nonsense used only to grasp power. This is something to be wary of. I’ll leave the identification of which is which up to you. Also note references to Trump or Hillary will often be symbols of their respective party.
Starting with the the King of Clowns and the Republican Party. His fear mongering is so easy to identify that I bet you already know what I am going to point out.
‘BENGHAZI!” Scream the Republicans. Trump and his base continually bring it up because it is the perfect shortcut. They think that Hillary Clinton would put us in harms way. The example of Benghazi allows for republicans to claim that Clinton would not protect the country, and therefore make America vulnerable. The fear of vulnerability is ultimately what Trump creates and plays off of to gain support.
Building a wall is an idea contingent on fear. Trump claims Mexican’s are taking the jobs and spreading the drugs! Scary stuff. But it is just reflective of a fear of outsiders. “They are other so they must be bad” has been a historically relevant thought. It plays off of prejudices. Just like Hitler using rhetoric to paint Jews as something to be afraid of, Trump does the same to undocumented immigrants.
But by far the most complex and effective fear that the Donald plays off is a fear of failure and stagnation. Just look at the slogan “Make America Great Again”. It plays off the assumption that America is bad. Any patriot of any country is fearful of their country becoming or being bad. It disgraces the patriot. Whose fault is it? Most blame the establishment. Most fear the reign of the establishment. That fear is Donald’s silver bullet. Nobody feels like they are getting their way and they all want to change something. The possibility of not getting the change they desire is a fear inducing one.They want someone to push away from the slacking system. And let us be real, Hillary is no Theodore “Bull Moose” Roosevelt here to reinvent the system. She is establishment, and by making her a symbol of the establishment Trump gets people to fear her rulership.
Moving on to the Corruption Queen and her Democratic Party. In this election the Democrats power play is demonizing.
They claim Donald Trump is a fascist. Most people do not really understand what it means and merely associate it with Hitler and Mussolini. People to be feared. He has a cult of personality, and a nationalist movement, all signs of fascism, but not what people really fear. Him becoming as evil as the two famous fascist dictators is the real fear behind calling Donald a fascist.
Hillary is also prone to creating a fear of ineptitude. Democrats display Trump as a crazy man who speaks to loud and uses hand gestures like a hyperactive mime. We need someone who knows what they are doing right? To have someone who does not in charge of everything could lead to disaster. After all they get access to the nuclear codes. Hilary points to the background Trump has in politics. Most people who run for president are career politicians who have been in office for many years. To many of his supporters the lack of political background is something attractive about Trump but to the Democrats this is an incredibly concerning issue.
Hillary can point to immigration policy Trump has put forward and claim he is a direct threat to immigrant families. Trump coming around and sending their loved ones back to whence they came is surely a scary prospect. Think about if someone took your family away. By pointing out the possibility of a direct threat, Mrs. Clinton is able to push fear into the minds of the immigrant and first generation population.
You can find more examples.
Some of these fears are completely warranted. But do not ignore the influence of fear. Being aware of the fear peddling is the best protection from its influence.
As we enter the 2016 Party convention week everyone must be diligent and aware that the current system of politics, and all the speeches that are about to unfold are really just part of a huge game of fear.