The Morality of Fear
by Paul Wilson
The re-election of George W. Bush is as mystifying as it is frustrating to America's liberals. How is it that so many of our own countrymen can be so different in their viewpoint? Are they blind? Uncaring? Greedy? Brainwashed?
Or are they just afraid?
On the morning of November 3rd, I was flipping through the various news programs, with a Democrat's hangover, listening to the slew of political pundits cancel each other out as they tried to explain exit polls and campaign strategies. None of it mattered. It was over.
Only one question echoed through my mind as I contemplated Canadian citizenship...
Why, with so many injustices brought to light every day about Iraq, unemployment, the rape of our environment, every poor child left behind, etc., WHY had this regime been voted back into power to continue their fear-mongering? Why had we, the people, elected this man and his cronies to represent our interests abroad? Why was the mangling of the English language looked at with smirking pride?
It was shortly before the broadcast of John Kerry's concession speech that I heard one of the armchair experts (which one?...Which channel?...I'm not sure, and I don't think it matters) talk about the surprising fact that despite Bush running his entire campaign on the "war on terror" and "staying the course," the main issues among GOP voters were morality and family values.
This, of course was treated by the pundits, like everything else, as a brief diversion to fill a few minutes of infinite air-time. I, however, sat up and took notice. Apparently, issues like the traditional marriage amendment, which we Democrats laughed at and called misdirection, were all that were needed to bind the Republicans together!
While we Dems were busy listing the crimes against humanity that this administration had inflicted (I, myself, ran out of fingers), shedding a sub-group of protesters for each one, spreading ourselves ever thinner as we tried to cover them all, the Republicans rallied under one flag of denial, called Morality.
Why didn't we see it? Why didn't we realize that we were actually helping the Bush administration to win?
Since 9/11, we Americans have lived with fear. It has been spoon-fed to us in daily doses by the media for decades ("Can your bedsheets kill you? Tune in at 11:00 and find out!), slowly immunizing us to it. But now they had something concrete to harp on. And with the help of the "War President" and his corporate good-ol'-boys, harp on it they did, twisting it and stretching it out, until the tangible became intangible again. From orange alerts to possible terrorist attacks on middle America, fear came at us from every direction and no direction. It wasn't long before we began to live with the fear, pulling it over our heads like a favorite blanket.
Those of us with any religious upbringing know that fear is the Great Motivator. "Behaveth Thyself Or Else" is the motto of the Catholic church, in a nutshell. And when things are at their darkest (or portrayed that way), we need to know that there is a force looking out for us, smiting our enemies and showing us the right path. But in order to keep that force on our side, we must pay the price: Morality. Love thy (immediate) neighbor. Follow Me. Worship Me, and I will solve all your problems.
When the Bush machine brought God into the equation, America's fears had a new focus. First, if we didn't support Bush, we didn't support the troops, making us unpatriotic. Now, if we didn't support Bush we were sinners, no better than our "Godless" enemy (not really godless, just the wrong god).
This was John Kerry's predicament. This was why he had to appear to be "flip-flopping." How do you attack God's minions without appearing Godless?
Even those of us in the Kerry camp thought Kerry was not taking a strong enough stand on the issues we held dear. So we tried to help him.
Organizations sprung up everywhere, trying to push war attrocities and federal deficit and the economy down the throats of the public. 'Give America a wake-up call,' we thought. And we were right. It needed to be told.
We rallied the voters in a way that hasn't been seen since JFK. Lines at the polls going around the block.
So, why wasn't it enough?
Because the fear factor was stronger. And the more we pushed, the further into the blanket they buried themselves. What do you do when you have to choose between fear of the enemy and fear of your leaders?
Better the devil you know...
© Paul Wilson
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