I watched the entire Republican Presidential debate night before last. It was difficult, but someone has to sacrifice in order to keep up with what the other side is up to. Okay, I’ll come clean; the real reasons I watched was to enjoy the food fights and hear what utterly stupid proposals came out of Trump’s mouth this time around. And I wasn’t disappointed.
With the primary topic of the debate being national security, the nine Republicans at the “big boy table” took turns trying to convince the television audience that they would bring the most muscular approach to being Commander in Chief and are best suited to protect the American people from ISIS. Of course, for this strategy to be effective people must first be convinced there is something to fear. Instilling fear and then using that fear to manipulate the public as means to obtain your objectives is one of the primary tools of conservative politicians. Reference: Those Who Would Use Fear
So it was not at surprising then that most of the candidates participating in the debate did their best to over emphasis the danger ISIS poses to the American people. There were numerous references to “World War III”. The specter of ISIS terrorists sneaking into the country pretending to be innocent Syrian immigrants was raised several times. Christie even insinuated that mothers should be afraid to send their children to school every morning. Of course, there was no mention that Americans are many hundreds of times more likely to be killed by gun violence or die in an automobile accident than to be involved in a terrorist attack. Also unmentioned is the pesky little fact that you are far more likely to be struck by lighting you are to be injured or killed by terrorists.
Of course it wouldn’t profit the Republican candidates to remind us that the purpose of terrorists is to terrorize and to use that fear to achieve their goals. That would remind us that the candidates are essentially acting as agents of ISIS by spreading fear for their own ends. They are certainly not going to remind us that by fanning the flames of fear of all Muslims, they are unwitting aiding ISIS in recruiting future terrorists. The more the American Muslim community feels marginalized, persecuted and hated, the more likely it is that unstable individuals within that community will be become radicalized and drawn to terrorism.
What bothers me the most about all of this is that their strategy works. The Republican candidates know their audience well. They know that typical conservatives, despite all of their bluster and love of guns, are actually cowards who put their safety above all else, including individual rights and other American ideals. They also know that their constituents are contemptuous and distrustful of everyone who is somehow different from themselves. They also know how easy it is to play into these people’s weaknesses. For these politicians the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino are gifts from heaven, or more accurately hell.
On the other hand I am thankful for the knowledge the the core constituency to which these Republicans politicians are speaking during this primary season makes up but a small percentage of Americans. Otherwise my believe that the people of my country are fully capable of standing up to and defeating ISIS terrorism would be sorely shaken.