Donald Trump and the politics of fear

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Molly Ball writes: “People are scared,” Donald Trump said recently, and he was not wrong.

Fear is in the air, and fear is surging. Americans are more afraid today than they have been in a long time: Polls show majorities of Americans worried about being victims of terrorism and crime, numbers that have surged over the past year to highs not seen for more than a decade. Every week seems to bring a new large- or small-scale terrorist attack, at home or abroad. Mass shootings form a constant drumbeat. Protests have shut down large cities repeatedly, and some have turned violent. Overall crime rates may be down, but a sense of disorder is constant.

Fear pervades Americans’ lives — and American politics. Trump is a master of fear, invoking it in concrete and abstract ways, summoning and validating it. More than most politicians, he grasps and channels the fear coursing through the electorate. And if Trump still stands a chance to win in November, fear could be the key.

Fear and anger are often cited in tandem as the sources of Trump’s particular political appeal, so frequently paired that they become a refrain: fear-and-anger, anger-and-fear. But fear is not the same as anger; it is a unique political force. Its ebbs and flows through American political history have pulled on elections, reordering and destabilizing the electoral landscape.

This week, Trump delivered a speech on immigration that depicted outsiders as a frightening threat. “Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders,” he said. His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention similarly made clear the extent to which his message revolves around fear. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump thundered. “Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country. Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally; some have even been its victims.”

Notes of uplift were few and far between in the convention speech, and commentators were duly shocked by its dark tone. (The conservative writer Reed Galen called Trump’s convention “a fear-fueled acid trip.”) Trump summons fear in the conventional way, by describing in concrete terms the threats Americans face. But he also, in a more unusual maneuver, summons fear in the abstract: There’s something going on, folks. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “Donald Trump and the politics of fear

  1. kurtis j mendonca

    Most of the planet is focused on the people- but in America, we have a Republic, and we vote for the party (elector’s)- not the person. In the end you get bigger govt from both parties, either by war or by social programs, and they both need each other. [ digress- Without the police state republicans- who would protect the social services for the democrats?? ] This is the biggest problem with presidential politics as it leaves out other crucial information that’s needed for this discussion: All 3 major parties- (R), (D), and (L) have selected wahawks to be their presidents’ of the Senate (VP). The current 114th Congress right now is bloating up the NDAA for FY2017… in what can only mean the insiders are expecting something BIG TO HEAD OUR WAY here REAL SOON. Explain all that any other way?? Now HOW IN THE WORLD- would they get the sheep on board if they were planning something??? Spread some fear. They need the public on board with another faux war like Irag… but instead of an actual false flag… they just need you to think its there or coming. Fox News and 85% of all alternative media has been fueling this flame for the last 8 years… and ANY REDNECK with a paycheck could have bought a spot in front of the camera to sell the fear by sounding like Fox for the people to say- “he sounds like me” – to get the power of the public behind him. I dont really care what anyone says… the cabal (what ever name you choose here) wants that man in the president seat. Convinced of this since he dropped his hat in the ring. They selected him 3 times- (once to let him have media coverage, and again during the campaign like Hilary got selected, and again at the convention). He has sat with Kissinger the war criminal, getting security breifings, and now getting allowed to sit with foreign leaders. Any media telling you its all for Hilary, or that “polls are close” are so wrong its a shame no one see’s it.

    I left this in a comment section in my website regarding another topic, but fitting…

    ” If you look at it through a political lens- the more they make the republican party look like a fool, the more you want to side with the left or go full oligarchy with the libertarian. Both end up steering the country from the furthest ends from center, and both will eliminate the constitution. Looking from a perspective of social trends- under the false awakening of Fox and the whole of the alternative community now touting the same message- it looks like it’ll be the patriot that will be the Manchurian candidate for the cabal”

    Being ANTI-TRUMP… does NOT make me PRO Hilary… I am just done with the duality and ready for a real change. Just not sure what that would look like yet.

    Kurt

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