But this time there was a slight problem. A majority of Americans now believe invading Iraq was a big mistake, the occupation has deteriorated into an unwinnable quagmire, and we need to bring the troops home. Then, when the Republicans saw their favorite pro-war Democrat, Joe Lieberman, lose his Connecticut Senate primary race to anti-war newcomer, Ned Lamont; they knew they needed to adjust their message. They decided to go with the good, old fashioned, tried and true motivator of the masses-FEAR.
The Republicans kicked off their campaign of fear with the news that British police had arrested nearly two dozen suspects that were plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners. President Bush immediately seized on the opportunity to remind Americans:
"[We] still aren't completely safe. ... It is a mistake to believe there is no threat ...This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.... [W]e live in a dangerous world, but our government will do everything we can to protect our people from those dangers." --All this in a two-minute speech (AP, 8/10/06)
President Bush is now making a series of pre-election speeches to "catapult the propaganda" about his "war on terror"-with the emphasis on terror. As always, the mainstream media is doing its best to help fan the flames of fear. Besides echoing every dire warning uttered by the fear mongers, the networks are producing their own fear-based programming.
"20/20 (CC): Seven cataclysm scenarios that could wipe out civilization are explored by Elizabeth Vargas. Among them: bioterrorism; global warming; an asteroid strike; nuclear war; a supervolcano; artificial intelligence running amok." --TV Guide description of 8/39/06 edition of 20/20 on ABC
If you consider these threats logically, you realize that the Republican-controlled government has already demonstrated that it cannot protect us from natural disasters-like Hurricane Katrina; they have virtually ignored global warming, done little or nothing to protect our borders, our ports, our railways, our chemical plants, our nuclear power plants; and are more likely to start a nuclear war than prevent one.
But the Republican campaign is not based on logic; it is based on fear-the kind of fear that Franklin Roosevelt referred to in his famous "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech. That is a "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified" kind of fear. The Republicans don't want you to think; they just want you to be afraid, and they want you to believe that only they can protect you. That is the most bizarre part of their strategy. If you look at the facts, you will find, in the past two years, Republicans have blocked funding for: Aviation Security (2005 Senate Vote #180, 7/14/05; 2005 House Vote #188, 5/18/05); Port Security (2004 Senate Vote #171, 9/9/04; 2006 House Vote #56, 3/16/06); First Responders and Border Security (2005 Senate Vote #105, 4/20/05; 2005 House Vote #160, 5/5/05); and have yet to implement even the most basis recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. In short, the Republicans have done absolutely nothing to help the average American or make anyone safer. That is why "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified" fear is all they have going for them.
Admittedly, there are a plenty of things to fear: Workers are afraid their jobs are going to be moved overseas; or they are going to lose their healthcare (if they had ever had any); or their pension is going to be stolen. People without healthcare are afraid of getting sick. Parents are afraid for their children's futures. Military families are afraid of that knock on the door. Iraqi civilians are afraid their door will be kicked in by American troops. The nations of the world are afraid that the United States is going to start a new nuclear arms race. Americans are afraid the Bush Administration is going to bomb Iran and start WWIII.
Terrorism is the least of our worries.
"...the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 -- about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor." --John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006
Despite this fact, the Bush Administration has done everything it can to keep Americans running scared. It is not a new tactic, but it is a tried-and-true tactic.
"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear-kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor-with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it."--General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), Supreme Allied Commander, 1957
I'll admit it; I'm scared-but not of terrorists. I am afraid of what the Bush Administration and the Republicans will do to win the election in November. I am convinced that something is going to happen to stampede the voters into the Republican fold--the October surprise. When it happens, we must stand firm.
"We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we ... remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment, unpopular." --Edward R. Murrow (1908-65), American news anchor, broadcast journalist
"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." --Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 33rd US President
In this case, the job at hand is to remain calm-no matter what happens before election day. Then, march to the polls in record numbers and change the course of America.