Earlier this week Chris Hayes gave some blog real estate to reader BH. After noting that the Obama campaign is having the youth text “HOPE” to receive Obama updates, BH writes
I hear the republicans are jumping on the bandwagon…you can now text “FEAR” to 62263 and you get local updates on things to be afraid of—dirty bombs, smaller portions, secularism, socialized medicine, sweater vests, immigrants taking your job, the writers strike, doctors killing babies, taxes, activist judges, vegan cupcakes, and so on and so forth…
I have to assume BH hasn’t been following the Clinton campaign, or the general drift of Democratic politics in the Bush years. The idea that Republicans have a monopoly on fearmongering strikes me as pretty odd given the leading Democratic candidates’ fearmongering (if I may) on income dispersion, trade, and of course the environment. It’s easy to create a parallel list:
obesity, arsenic, theocracy, the Ku Klux Klan, foreigners taking your job, the writers strike, the patriarchy, the AMT, having to support your elderly parents, Bill Gates drinking your milkshake, and so on
One of my old classmates, Alex Gourevitch, offered a pretty provocative take on climate change and the rhetoric of emergency during an n + 1 symposium.
Environmentalism is not just some politics. It’s a political project, a full-bodied ideology, and one that presents itself in terms of progress and aspiration. But when you look at what this ideology is built on, it’s built on the idea that a collective threat that makes security the basic principle of politics and makes the struggle for survival the basic and central aim of our social and political life. This, to me, is not a progressive politics at all.
It is, instead, a politics of fear, like the rhetoric surrounding the ever-present terrorist enemy. Find the symposium if you can.
There is something unnerving in the hostility towards entrepreneurs that is becoming increasingly common, and I say this as someone very sensitive to the kind of self-dealing chronicled by David Cay Johnston. I find it as unnerving in its own way as the militarization of patriotism. Consider the way our morbid obsessions, from fear of asbestos to crippling status anxiety, have in a real sense damaged American children. Perhaps sowing irrational fear of ecological doom and sex offenders and foreign manufacturers and Bin Laden hiding under the cupboard is the only way we can take sensible steps to protect the environment or fight crime or create jobs or kill terrorists. But I doubt it.