Home Politics The Politics of Fear

The Politics of Fear

As a political moderate, rhetoric from both the left and right of the spectrum routinely makes me wince. These days, with polls suggesting the Obama administration is about to be spanked decisively by voters, with the recent defeat of the Labour government in the UK, with Labour hanging on by its fingernails in Australia, and with a front-runner in Toronto’s mayoralty race who isn’t left-of-center, the media elites have their knickers in a knot.

Amid all the gnashing of teeth, though, one phrase jumps out at me. It is being alleged that conservatives are now ascendant because they’ve done something underhanded. They’ve invoked the politics of fear. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

That’s a good one. I mean, how else does one possibly describe that outrageous 2006 US television advert in which global warming is represented as a train about to run over a little girl? It’s only 33 seconds long. If you haven’t watched it in a while, it’s worth re-visiting.

And then there’s last year’s shameful “Bedtime Stories” ad funded by the UK government in which a little girl is read a storybook that features the drowning of a puppy dog and other horrors.

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