This Slate article says that conservative politicians play on fear, and historically, that’s a successful tactic. (I get that this article was in advance of Halloween, but even though my local CVS aisles have moved on to the next holiday, the topic bears a little exploration, I think.)
Fear is a successful motivator in theology, as well. I would know these things. I grew up a Christian fundamentalist with one eye on the horizon for that day when Jesus returned and send most of us to hell.
I was under no delusion that I would make the cut and be among the chosen. I sinned. Only perfection would be allowed in heaven, and all the reassurances about Jesus’ forgiveness never made me second-guess the inevitability of my own berth in the fiery flames of hell.
I was a True Believer®. I taught Sunday school, and tried to convert others to this scary way of thinking (all the while feeling no small amount of guilt that I was introducing them into such a frightening world). But I believed, and I worked on helping others believe the same way so that I could save their souls, and mine, as well.
Fear worked, and for me, it worked for years until I got tired of worshipping out of fear. I got tired of putting my head on my pillow and dreaming awful dreams of everlasting punishment. (Do all fundamentalists suffer this? I do not know. I never talked about it, because if I had, I would have been forced to admit, over and over, that I was a sinner. That didn’t seem a good way to stay in the good graces of my Christian brothers and sisters.)
I got tired, mostly, and so I walked Scary Jesus walked off the porch.
So my heart goes out to those who are ruled by fear in the political arena, who worry that too many immigrants steal jobs (that those fear-mongers didn’t want to work, anyway), that too many women have control over their own bodies (when really, it’s a conservative’s dream to own a vagina). I feel for people who worry that there’s just not enough of that good old-fashioned way of doing things (that wholly and completely served the white power structure).
And I will also say this, which I’ve said before: It ain’t over until you’re knocking on the Pearly Gates. If there’s hope for a True Believer® like myself, there is most likely hope for you, as well.
Staedter essentially lets Democrats off the hook, (no surprise coming from Slate). No mention of Democratic Party politics post-9/11. No mention of the Obama Doctrine or the manufactured fear and loathing that drives the popularity, and impunity, of The Drone King’s bloody imperialism abroad…and the Islamophobia it fosters at home.
In addition, Staedter misrepresents the CU survey findings:
According to the phys.org link supplied by Slate, the number 1 fear listed in the CU survey is “Corruption of government officials.” That is not “government itself.” Not by a long shot.
Referring to the source of the findings, among the ten domains of fear defined, government actually comes in third after man-made disasters and technology.
It should also be pointed out that according to…again… the source of the findings, of those survey respondents who were described as “above average” in their fear of government, (which appears to be about 20% of all respondents), 32.6%, or about 6% of all respondents, voted for a particular candidate due to those fears. (Fear of government includes, according to the survey codebook [PDF], fear of domestic drone use, fear of ObamaCare®, fear of gun control, as well as fear of corrupt government officials, which lead the pack.) Also, according to the survey, 22.6% of respondents voted for a particular candidate “because of your fears,” which, we must assume, encompasses all ten fear domains and all respondents regardless of their degree of fear, (not afraid–slightly afraid–afraid–very afraid), relative to any particular domain. That’s not “nearly 1 in 5” as reported by Staedter. That’s greater than 1 in 5. (Math matters…or …it should…especially to people pretending to be journalists.)
All in all, these numbers shouldn’t come as any surprise, (considering the vast majority of respondents…about a third of which are self-described as politically independent moderates… report having virtually no trust in government “to do what is right”), or be cause for any real alarm. In fact, it could be cause for some encouragement…because fear can be a good thing. (Watch out for that tree!) Especially when considering corruption in government…or Religion™. It’s a matter of perspective that poses less of a “threat to our process” than media bias, disinformation and manipulation….and the hate and discontent (Fear™) that fosters.
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