Does Our Government Control Us Using Fear?

“People react to fear, not love,” said Richard Nixon. And, that’s exactly what American politicians do.

Our government doesn’t rule with consent but with fear, intimidation, and threats of violence. And, a government run by fear will always fall.

Fear of death rouses us like no other. Men feared death via witches so they burned women. Now, we’re fearful of terrorism, so we kill Muslims —which has distracted us from real issues.

This intentional creation of false fear is harmful to democracy. It tempts us to surrender our freedoms to a demagogue who promises strength and security in return. These demagogues present themselves as the protectors of the fearful. However, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

When fear removes logic and reason, the result is often irrational hatred and division. The American politicians that now come to power are often racist, ultra-nationalist, religious (they claim they’ve been bestowed divine authority to restore security and order), tribal (as in they lack any 21st-century morality), sexist and homophobes.

Leadership means inspiring us through fears, not conjuring up fears so we’re easier led. Demagoguery means exploiting our fears for political gain. As Former Senator Ed Muskie said,

There are only two kinds of politics. They’re not radical and reactionary or conservative and liberal or even Democratic and Republican. There are only the politics of fear and the politics of trust. One says you are encircled by monstrous dangers. Give us power over your freedom so we may protect you. The other says the world is a baffling and hazardous place, but it can be shaped by the will of men.

The two techniques for inciting fear, as you’ll see in the news, are: repetition and making the irregular seem regular.

In the end however, as broadcast journalist, Edward Murrow, said, “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason.”

To your success,
Nikhil Mahadea