It’s All About Fear

Fear and More Fear
Fear and More Fear

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

As we (thankfully) get closer to the end of this current election season, I can’t help observing the Republicans’ campaign themes. It’s actually not too much different in approach from previous campaign themes. But this cycle it’s been cranked up to eleven and put on auto-repeat ad nauseam.

That theme is fear. Fear of the despised other; fear of change; fear of violence; fear of being afraid. I can’t help but connect the Republican’s endless use of fear with those of totalitarian governments all around the world. I don’t think the resemblance is a coincidence.

Life Under Totalitarians

Through both my first and present wives I’ve learned second-hand what it means to live in a totalitarian society. My first wife Marilou grew up under the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, ruler of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. She emigrated to the United States in January 1985, when her native country was already beginning to come apart in what would later be called “The People’s Revolution” that kicked Marcos to the curb.

One of my most vivid memories with Marilou is from when we were just starting to date. We were watching TV one afternoon and happened to catch part of a newscast. The newscast included some local person castigating then-President Ronald Regean in a commentary. The person used his three minutes of fame pretty much calling Regean a senile old fool. After he was done and the newscast moved on, Marilou looked at me and somberly asked “Are they going to arrest him?”

After I got over my shock, we had a long talk about free speech and free press. What I told Marilou was all new information for her. She explained if that person had talked about Marcos on Philippine TV the same way, the person would be immediately arrested and the TV station shut down.

Over the years were were married Marilou would tell me personal stories about her life under Marcos. I first began to understand life in a totalitarian society through her stories.

Living in Communist China

My present wife Winnie was born in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Her stories of life in those times aren’t just about being poor at a level I struggle to understand. Her stories are about government-sanctioned repression and abuse of power. One incident that actually occurred after we were married, while she was waiting for her US Spouse visa, involved a run-in with the Chinese police.

Winnie was hauled into a police station near her apartment and questioned about one of her friends. During questioning, the police somehow decided Winnie was a member of Falun Gong, a cult-like organization that started to be vigorously prosecuted by the Chinese government a few years before Winnie and I were married. The police threatened to arrest Winnie and hold her indefinitely, but hinted that if she could come up with an amount of money equal to about one year of her wages they’d reconsider. Winnie was ultimately released only because she was able to contact one of her friends who had ties to the local CCP.

This incident deeply scarred her. Winnie explained that if the police hadn’t let her go, there would have been no way to tell me what happened to her. She would simply have been disappeared. She talks about this incident often, as an example of how repressive the Chinese government is.

I could be sardonic and say those Chinese police didn’t seem all that much different than American police.

It’s How They Roll

Which brings me back to my point about fear. Totalitarian governments run on fear. People live in fear of being arbitrarily arrested and disappeared. Their lives are constant chaos and deprivation as government officials care more about their personal power and privileges than their official duties.

Those government officials need to keep We The People distracted from how shitty their life is, and who is really at fault. So the governments create fear of others living in a neighboring country. Fear of others living amongst them who steal their jobs and wreck the economy and cause violence. Fear the enemies at the gates because only the thin blue line of a strong government can protect innocent people.

It’s not a coincident that this sounds increasingly like our present-day Trump-owned Republican Party.

Fear Is All They Have

The Republican Party has been running exclusively on fear, and it’s complementary focus on ridicule, for at least the past 20+ years. I remember Bush the Lesser making his 2004 campaign all about mocking John Kerry. Along with hyping the fear of illegal immigrants taking all our jobs while sucking up welfare because they were too lazy to work. Missing from Bush’s campaign was anything resembling issues or policy.

Since then it’s been a steady downward roll towards all fear and ridicule all the time while Republicans simultaneously ramped up into totalitarianism. Trump’s 2016 campaign was all about fear, and ridicule, mixed with an even darker shade of threatened violence towards despised others. As Trump assimilated the Republican Party, remaking it in his own image, his thread of threatened violence deepened with his push on fear. His “campaign rallies” increasingly incorporated George Orwell’s postulated Two Minutes of Hate, using the Republicans’ Bogeyperson Hillary Clinton as his target.

Trumps rants speeches, and those of his minions, have become indistinguishable from those of dictators leading totalitarian governments.

Democracy The Antitoxin to Fear

Democracy is the antitoxin to fear. In a free society, people are allowed – encouraged – expected – to stand up and speak out. Democracies thrive when people force a redress of grievances against the governments, hold public officials accountable for doing The People’s work. In a Democracy, people do not live in fear.

Here We Are Today

So here we are today. The Republican Party’s 2022 midterm campaigns have been all about fear, completely without the substance of anything resembling rational policy. Republicans have run the gamut of things to be afraid of, to where they’re now running on fear of drag queens and kitty litter boxes.

And, least I miss it, we have the Republicans’ fear of “Critical Race Theory,” which matches “wokeness” for being so ridiculously nebulous no one can even explain what it is. But it still gets Republican-Americans spasmodically frightened over the thought that somewhere, someone is doing it. Mixed in with all this fear is their continual Two Minutes of Hate directed at their cause of angst of the day.

What’s Next?

I don’t know how what will happen in the midterm elections. Democrats may hold the House, hold the Senate, and flip some state and local-level elections. But these wins will not be ubiquitous. There will be Republicans, running on fear and ridicule and promises of violence, who will legitimately gain a majority of votes. Meaning, there are American citizens who are so afraid they would accept an totalitarian government over democracy.

In the end, the focus on fear, and ridicule, and threats of violence, show that current Republicans above all else fear We The People voting in a free and fair Democratic election . I truly hope these election results gives Republicans something to fear.

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