Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fear Hillary!

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

I used to be pretty undecided about who I wanted as our next president. I am not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor Republicrat. I do not follow a dogma, but rather prefer to think carefully through each issue, look at evidence, hear arguments from all sides, and make up my own mind as much as possible. In the end, I am conservative about some things, and liberal about others. So, I have tried my best to go based on the actual priorities and stances of the candidates in this election.

First step, I tried going to the websites of the top 8 contenders from both parties early on, in order to get a good take on their priorities and stances. No luck. It was all glittering generalities like, "I am for the children" and other teary-eyed hogwash.

So then I watched all of the major debates of both parties, in order to get a sense of their policies. I decided that my priorities and stances seem to line up rather well with what Obama, Clinton, and Edwards were saying; basically that we need to pull our priorities away from a baseless war and get them back on problems such as education, poverty, civil rights, and dismantling militant networks such as Al Qaeda. That is pretty much the opposite of what I took most of the Republicans to be saying.

That left me stuck between Obama, Clinton, and Edwards. Well, Edwards dropped out, so one down, one to go.
Lately, Clinton helped me make up my mind. She has demonstrated that she will stoop as low as she needs to in order to sway people's votes based on fear and negativity. This was capped off yesterday with her last ditch effort to appeal to the rural population of Pennsylvania: an ad meant only to instill fear in order to gain political credibility. As the quote from Plato implies above, this type of evil manipulation is as old as politics itself.

Watch the ad here:
Clinton's "Kitchen" Ad

Displaying images of the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the 1970's gas hike, and Osama bin freakin' Laden, among other things, does nothing more than try to conjure up negative emotions in the viewers.

The only claims being made in the ad is that being president is "the toughest job in the world," that you "need to be ready for anything, especially now," while showing a video of what people really seem to fear the most—the digits of the gas prices going up on the pumps, in fast forward no less.

The video closes by asking "Who do you think has what it takes?" What is the point of the ad? Since there are no real claims made, no evidence cited, and no policies even hinted at, it is clear that the only message to the viewers can be "you need to be afraid, and vote for the candidate that will ease your fear."

Kind of reminds me of this ad, from another candidate who punched people in the gut in order to get elected: "Changing World" Ad, oh, and this one: America!

This is based on a common theme that has been used throughout history to win elections; that today's world is a dangerous place and candidate X is the one who 'has what it takes' to save us.
What war hero General Douglas McArthur noted in the past is just as true today:

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
~General Douglas MacArthur

I have decided I don't want to vote for more of this fear crap. This leaves me with two questions in order to decide who to vote for…

#1 Is Obama Any Better?

Now, Obama is trying to punch you in the gut too, with his messages of Hope and Change. EVERY dang politician EVER has said, "Blahblahblah what we need is CHANGE blahdiblah rabble rabble." I don't know how Obama cornered the market on Hope and Change, but I DO know that Clinton and others have literally and verbally conceded this to him. That is perhaps WHY Hillary has gone to fear, in a last ditch effort to corner ANY market. And when it comes to choosing between hope and fear, I think Bill Clinton has said possibly the only sensible thing of his life:

"If one candidate is appealing to your fears, and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope." --Bill Clinton

#2 CAN we have hope, or SHOULD we be afraid?

The candidates have agreed that we are voting between fear and hope. Which one should we actually be feeling? Perhaps Hillary and the Republicans are right. Maybe the world is going to shit and we need to vote for the only one that can save us. I'm pretty sure it would be Indiana Jones. Maybe Luke Skywalker.

It sure seems like the world is crazy and only getting crazier. Is there any evidence of this? Well, it seems there is. We can get a sense of how the danger in the world is changing by examining, for example, the change in the risk of the average person dying in a war, or by murder, or by state sanctioned violence. By all of these measures, the world is a much safer place than at any time in history. Moreover, the present United States just about the safest place in the history of the world.

If you're interested, here is an interesting talk that argues this point very well and displays some of the evidence: A Brief History of Violence

Why do these politicians claim that the world is getting more dangerous? One reason is that they actually may believe it. It's hard to imagine that they would so blatantly lie to so many people, but it would certainly not be without precedent. Another is that they know that the American people believe it—the press has seen to that.

Whether politicians believe in this fear or not, certain politicians believe it is in their best interests to utilize the fear. Hillary has just shown that she is one of these politicians. If we are to believe what Obama says, he is not. In that case, the only thing Hillary has to fear is...not enough fear.


Brian said...

nice analysis luke... i dig it

meghan said...


a pretty interesting article about the current situation in the US. with a nice nod to hope at the end.

astrobassist said...

cool thanks! It's good to know I'm not just plum crazy!

Thanks for that article! It's very cool and a little more level-headed than mine methinks;)