Reject the Politics of Fear

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By Michael Bryan

What disturbs me the most about President Trump? So much to choose from, I know. But I think the absolute worst is that his politics are largely just fear-mongering. He appeals to the worst aspects of American culture and character using a constant bombardment of lies to create fear and it’s consequences, anger and hate.

No one makes good decisions, especially in politics, under the influence of fear. In most Americans’ lifetimes we have seen a perfect example of how fear distorts and warps decision-making: 9/11. The forever wars we began and the awful fear-based policies we adopted in the wake of 9/11 should be a warning to us all not to succumb to fear when making political decisions.

I see fear being used now in the Democratic Party primary, and I don’t like it. Our greatest fear is, of course, that Donald Trump will be re-elected President and he’ll have four more years to undermine our country’s security and prosperity and attack our institutions and political culture. I understand that fear, for I assuredly share it.

But I won’t let that fear dictate my choice of the candidate to face off with Trump in the general election. Fear leads to poor judgment.

Some of our primary candidates are nakedly using our fears to make the case for their candidacy. I will never vote for those candidates and neither should any of you. Their behavior now reflects their future leadership style. What they do under the duress of this campaign predicts what they will do if given leadership.

The worst offender is, of course, the utterly odious Michael Bloomberg. He made his nakedly fear-based appeal on the debate stage of South Carolina claiming that nominating Sanders would lead to four more years of Trump, loss of our House majority, appointment of even more radial right-wing ideologues to the Supreme Court, and right-wing hegemony over politics for a generation. He wants you to believe that due to his grotesque wealth that ONLY HE can defeat Trump. To nominate him, given his record on race, women, and the abuse of his power, would eviscerate everything the Democratic Party purports to stand for.

Though more subtle, another candidates are sounding the same alarm of fear to make the case against Sanders. Pete Buttigieg himself has made very similar arguments to those advanced by Bloomberg, claiming Sanders wants to “burn down” the Party and would assure a Trump victory. I was an early enthusiast for Mayor Pete. I read his autobiography and studied his positions. No more. He disqualified himself by this behavior, not mention his constant shifting on issues due the subtle pressures of fundraising to remain competitive.

I have not heard other candidates make the same fearful arguments personally, though I have heard very similar views from proxies of the Biden and Klobuchar campaigns. Watch for more such arguments as we approach Super Tuesday.

I won’t make my decision on who is best to compete with Trump based on my fear. I encourage you to also think carefully for yourself, and free of fear.

I have come to the decision that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate mainly for the following reason: I believe that his agenda is truly best for most Americans and that he is a good and sincere messenger. His agenda, even when eventually watered down by the compromises of the political process, will lead to an America that is healthier, more peaceable, more equitable, and more sustainable, and importantly, his agenda is very popular with the majority of Americans. I refuse to play the game of trying to predict an unknowable future or trying to guess what voters with views different than my own will do, or how they are likely to vote. I am going to trust Americans to recognize a better deal, and a better person, when presented to them.

Already, a plurality of Democrats agree with me the Bernie is our best bet. When asked who is most likely to beat Trump, their top choice is Bernie. When asked which candidate for President they prefer in polls, and in actual primary votes, more Democratic voters prefer Bernie. When tested in head to head polls against Trump, Bernie wins, both nationally and in key swing states. I believe that all those Democrats are choosing Bernie out of hope, and on good evidence, not out of fear.

I trust the primary process when it conforms to the judgment of Democratic primary voters. Our party will win up and down the ticket based on our values, our advocacy, and our ideas as presented by all our best candidates. Our voters are saying clearly that they think Bernie is the best candidate for President. We must trust our own judgements and not scare ourselves, or each other, into second-guessing our beliefs.

Reject fear. Vote for Bernie, if you want to.

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