EDITORIAL: GOP and Dems continue to sell fear because it works
Selling fear is easy.
Selling ideas … well, that’s a whole lot harder.
The folks who run our national political parties know that better than anyone.
That’s why it’s not at all surprising that the Republican candidates in the nation’s premier midterm battleground districts aren’t touting a surging economy or their tax-cut legislation.
Instead, according to a recent report by the Associated Press, they’ve emphasized a border crisis in Pennsylvania, the radical left surging in New Jersey and Nancy Pelosi as a threat in New York.
With a pivotal general election just months away, and control of both houses of Congress at stake, the Republicans are largely stoking anxiety, rather than promoting their own policies.
There’s a simple reason for that — it works.
“We wish it got the pitch forks out, and it doesn’t,” Republican ad maker Will Ritter said of the Republican tax cuts.
Politicians often find it’s easier to run against something — or someone, such as Pelosi or immigrants — rather than run for something, such as tax cuts, especially when many believe those tax cuts were largely for the benefit of high-income earners.
Democrats do it, too: This is not just a Republican strategy, however. Democratic candidates are just as likely to run against President Donald Trump, rather than pump up their own policies, such as support for Obamacare or real immigration reform.
The Democrats know that fear (and hatred) of Trump has become a booming industry among progressives. Just watch MSNBC or CNN for a couple hours and that becomes obvious.
“The resistance,” as it’s become known, takes immense pleasure at blasting the president every time he makes one of his many statements that bear no resemblance to the actual facts.
No defense of Trump: This is no defense of Trump. As president, he’s been a disaster. He’s a bully and an egotist whose peddles divisiveness at nearly every turn and has only an occasional relationship with the truth.
He should be resisted.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Democrats should rely solely on anti-Trump sentiment in their efforts to regain political power. At some point, they need to forcefully advocate policies of their own that will help hard-working Americans of all income levels.
The same goes for Republicans.
Blame lies with us: Still, don’t look for either side to stop selling fear anytime soon.
The blame for that lies with us, the voters. We respond viscerally to fear, and we will vote based on fear.
Fear moves the needle.
That’s largely how Trump got elected — promoting fear of Hillary Clinton, fear of immigrants and fear of a changing cultural landscape.
It worked for Trump in 2016, now the Republicans are using that same playbook in a desperate attempt to hold on to the Congress in 2018.
Sadly, it has a decent chance of working — again.
For that, we only have ourselves to blame.