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Fear & Paranoia Are Good Because - Why?

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[I]f you feel good about yourself, you'll listen -- and if you feel insecure or threatened, you won't. This would also explain why demagogues benefit from keeping people agitated. The more threatened people feel, the less likely they are to listen to dissenting opinions, and the more easily controlled they are.

I continue to be amazed at the inclination of those on the far Right to find outrage at just about every policy proposal offered by President Obama. Having social and economic merit; founded on a rational basis; addresses a majority preference, working for the common good - each and all of those considerations (and more) remain entirely irrelevant in the world occupied by a sizable number of citizens who must surely be exhausted by the constant expressions of fear and paranoia which seem to dominate their every waking moment.

They seem to scurry from one battleground enforcement to another in this fierce conflict they wage largely in their own minds. It's a phenomenon which has been observed and reported on for decades. That conservatives prefer the known to the unknown, order and hierarchy more than the meanderings of broadly-inclusive liberal inclinations is not a Breaking News story.

These GOP voters desperately want to be able to live in a predictable world so they can feel some sense of control over their own little piece of that world: their families and friends, their homes, workplaces and neighborhoods. They feel robbed of their sense of security by huge forces that seem to know no restraint, that burst all boundaries and thus threaten to erase all the structures that could provide at least some degree of predictability and control.
And they feel powerless to do anything about all this except to "join in mutual outrage against a common enemy" and go on battling "on behalf of the victimized." Voting Republican is their way of joining together, fighting back, and thus creating an illusion of control regained.

As with most traits and characteristics more typically associated with one political group versus another, in and of themselves they usually don't merit immediate condemnation. As with most traits and characteristics, however, what groups do in pursuit of their various principles and beliefs matters a great deal.

Just how many times must they insist on imminent eventualities which still have not materialized--despite their most passionate displays of paranoia--before they come to terms with the fact that their great fears are baseless?

Imagine what just a portion of that energy, re-channeled to more productive pursuits, might accomplish for them--and us!

Equally amazing to me is the noise machine of Rush Limbaugh et al, who reap untold financial rewards for keeping their rabid followers stirred and shaken by the latest coming-soon-to-a-government-near-you takeover, with a bonus of abolishing all Constitutional rights?

As Ira Chernus noted in that same article quoted from above:

Republican politicians have brilliantly offered them an endless array of enemies to resist: communists and now terrorists abroad; hedonists, feminists, secular humanists, and pleasure-seeking liberals of every kind at home. All are portrayed as explosive forces, threatening to burst every boundary, destroy every restraint and overwhelm us.

Hasn't it ever occurred to these paranoia-driven followers to " think for themselves; chat with godless liberal scumbags once in a while; and wonder why their "leaders" continue to reap awe-inspiring financial riches decade after decade despite the fact that government takeovers or heterosexual-marriage-destroying gay agendas are about as assured of happening as is an upcoming ten-city tour by Elvis?

Wouldn't it be interesting if followers realized that progressives actually love this country just as much as they do, and strive to just make it better for more citizens?

Is that really just a difficult concept? Does it justify so much needless paranoia?

What if we actually worked toward that same goal--together?

(Adapted from a blog post of mine)

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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