“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” FDR 1933 First Inaugural Address.
So, if all Americans know the folly of bending to fear why have Americans embraced the images of fear that the Bush administration has created to make us do what they want?
In the shadow of 9/11/2001 at the time when fear was highest among the American people George W Bush used fear for his political advantage. He realized that when people are afraid they look for comfort, and if he were the object of their comfort, the solution to their fear he could win reelection as well as make the people follow him into the Neo-Con ideological landscape. And, he has succeeded so far.
But, yesterday George W Bush tried for the first time to deviate from the path of fear that he had paved for so long. Alan Elsner of Reuters wrote a very good summery of George W Bush trying to go upstream against the river of fear.
The politicians in congress know that the American people have formed different opinions based on the fear that George W Bush has used to his success. People are afraid and they know that they need to be afraid, because danger lurks around every corner. This is what the Bush administration has been telling them for five years. FDR knew that fear could paralyze a nation and that is what he was saying in his famous quote. Fear is a short-term political lever, but fear is dangerous for the long time growth of a nation. FDR knew that policies and national strategy needed to change and he knew that people inherently fear change. Unfortunately George W Bush doesn’t know his history and he listened to Karl Rove who told him to use fear to retain the support of the people.
So, George W Bush painted pictures of terrorists getting nuclear weapons from Iraq. This picture scared the people into support the illegal, immoral and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. At every step of the way George W Bush used fear to scare politicians and moderate Americans to support blunders at every corner. And, the actions of the administration have stoked the Islamic Fundamentalist into recruiting more and more terrorists to fight the American threat. The presence of more terrorists was used to play the fear card more and more. After all, if you see a threat shouldn’t we fear it? It’s only prudent.
But fear drives away rational thought. And a politician who knows what he wants does not appreciate rational thought. Why should the people think about what has already been decided?
Because fear is irrational it can not be controlled. And, George W Bush was taught this lesson yesterday. The American people fear terrorists thanks to the encouragement of the Bush administration. After all, the Bush administration needs to break the law to listen to Americans that might be talking to terrorists. So, why can’t the Bush administration see the danger that they have been telling us about for the last five years? Obviously, the Bush administration doesn’t think that there is any danger here. In fact, I believe that the Bush administration knows that there is no danger here as they knew that there wasn’t any real danger in Iraq. The difference is that they used fear to get what they wanted with the Iraq invasion. Now they are telling us that there is no danger because they want their Arab buddies to make this deal. But fear is irrational and fear has already set the American people in motion.
The bigger question is this - is this the tipping point? Do we finally have people willing to question the president on the question of terrorism? The president was once seen as the protector of America because he was president during 9/11. But, the truth is that George W Bush has used 9/11 for his personal advantage. He has used the fear generated by this event to get himself reelected. He has used fear generated by this event to get support for his war in Iraq. Now the fear has come back to bite him and maybe the American people will finally see him for the self-interested politician that he truly is.