In recent months, one of the most common memes I’ve seen making its way around Facebook is the slogan, “Democrats vote their hopes; Republicans vote their fears.” If this is true, then it explains why Democrats lose mid-term elections, especially in recent years.
The truth is that the Republican Party has figured out how to win elections, and a big part of their strategy is fear-mongering. Republicans have convinced gun owners nationwide that Democrats want to take all of their guns away, even though the Democrats have proposed nothing more than common sense background checks and a reduction in the numbers of bullets in an assault rifle clip. Even worse, many of them have been convinced that President Obama plans to take their guns away by force through military action unauthorized by Congress. Meanwhile, a significant percentage of Americans believe that President Obama will declare himself dictator and take over our country , rounding up political opponents and locking them away (or worse), just like Hitler did. And of course, they get these ideas from the pundits at Fox News who, for the past six years, have been trying to equate Obama’s actions with Hitler’s in every way imaginable, no matter how absurd the comparison or how little evidence they have to support their claims.
As the 2014 midterms approached, Republican politicians spread the fear that ISIS was about to “come here and kill us all,” in the words of Senator Lindsay Graham, despite the fact that the president has aggressively pursued ISIS and halted their expansion in the Middle East. Worst of all, Republican media used the Ebola crisis to convince a large percentage of Americans that the Democrats were content letting us all die from Ebola. Of course, sensible people can already see that Ebola is about as non-contagious as a contagious disease can be in a country with sanitary conditions and universal indoor plumbing. The president has been proven the sane one, as he assured Americans that there was little to fear, while the Republican pundits proved to be the reincarnation of Chicken Little.
Nonetheless, the sad truth is that these fears influence people’s decision to vote much more than hopes do. Hopes for the future often seem distance and imaginary. Even the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2009, took nearly five years to implement. But fears of a hostile government takeover or a deadly disease running out of control seem like they could happen at any moment.
But if fear wins elections, the Democrats should not lose hope; rather, they should change course. The harsh reality is that political campaigning is a dirty business, and if your competition is winning with fear-mongering, you just might have to do it, too. The great news for the Democrats is that there’s plenty to fear if Republicans take total control of the federal government in 2016. Here are a few examples:
Debt doomsday and the Great Inflate: Both of these terms are of my own creation. According to the book, White House Burning, by former International Monetary Fund Director, Simon Johnson, debt doomsday, a day in which the government will be in so much debt that no one will lend it money, is probably going to occur in the 2040s, if we stay on pour current pace as far as taxing and spending are concerned. But, as Mitt Romney shared in the 2012 election campaign, the Republican plan was to increase military spending by 20% and cut taxes by 20%. He promised that other spending cuts would be made to balance the budget, but he refused to say what those cuts would be, because he didn’t have any significant cuts planned. Republicans know that if they make cuts that hurt to any great extent that they will be voted out of office in the next election. So the Republican plan to cut taxes and increase spending would probable put us at debt doomsday in about 10 years instead of 30. Romney’s plan is was a more drastic version of Ronald Reagan’s plan, and Reagan oversaw a national debt increase of 189% – the worst ever. This makes Obama’s pace for an 83% debt increase look mild.
What happens on Debt Doomsday?
The nation will have to simply print up the money to pay its debts. Mexico did this in 1982, and the result was over 100% inflation 4 years in a row. That means a $4 hamburger costs over $100 in four years. This will undo all that working class Americans have ever worked for, and since the Republicans no oppose the minimum wage, then our workers will earn poverty wages that differ little from those in developing countries.
More invasions: We know from the last election that Republicans are itching to go to war with Iran in the name of keeping them from getting nukes. Yet the real motive is probably that they want to feed tax dollars to the military industrial complex and turn Iran’s oil over to the oil companies, like they did with Iraq. Can we afford another trillion dollar war and thousands more American deaths? That’s something to fear.
Child labor epidemic: This one may not be as immediate, but the formula for a child labor epidemic, like we had in the late 1800s and early 1900s, already exists in popular Republican ideology. First, Newt Gingrich proposed giving children the “freedom” to work if they want to, because government has no business telling them what to do. Second, the Republican Holy Grail is the abolition of welfare, for which they have a seething hatred. Most recipients of welfare are children, so that leaves them with no means of eating (and don’t forget that many Republicans oppose school lunch programs, too), so now children will have no choice but to work for their food. Third, many Republicans, especially of the conservative Christian variety, want to abolish public schools and privatize k-12 education, so that it will become just as unaffordable as college education. This will make it unlikely that impoverished children will have school getting in the way of their long work hours. And finally, the reason child labor is so desirable for the corporate wealthy is that it’s cheap. Republican leaders now oppose the minimum wage, so if they can abolish it or devalue it with inflation, then children can work for the equivalent of a dollar an hour, and that, in turn, will decrease the demand for adult workers so that their wages will fall as well. The end result will be mass poverty, as was the result during the Republican-dominated Gilded Age.
Losing healthcare: And let’s not forget that one thing we can count on Republicans doing, if they take total control, is repealing Obamacare which will leave several million people who have pre-existing conditions (myself included) without coverage so that they lose everything they ever worked for in a health emergency, or they fail to get care at all during the early stages of serious illnesses when there is still hope for recovery.
That’s a lot to fear! Conservatives might argue that some of these concerns are far-fetched. Yet all of these have already happened, not in a totalitarian regime like Nazi Germany, but in this nation under this Constitution (with the exception of debt doomsday, which happened in Mexico). If a slave-like oppression of workers and children happened here before, as it did when Republicans ruled America from 1860-1932, then it’s not at all far-fetched that these things will happen when they take control in the future.
If we Democrats don’t share these fears with society, then society just might be unfortunate enough to live them out. Maybe in the next election, Democrats should vote their fears, so their fears don’t become reality.