With campaign season heating up, here’s your reminder to stay sober and clear-eyed in the midterm elections:
With the post–Labor Day start of the campaign season upon us, we can look forward to two months of hearing about all the horrors awaiting us if the other guy is elected. Most of this is just standard negative campaigning. Though “my opponent’s economic plan will turn this country into a barren wasteland” may be hyperbolic, it’s largely unobjectionable — and if you are running against someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it could even be true. …
But sometimes negative campaigning can cross a line into something more insidious, something that plays on atavistic emotions and tears at our social fabric. That type of fearmongering needs to be guarded against.
Another danger of fear-based politics is not just that it leads to bad policies but that it can change the very nature and character of the country. As we become more and more fearful of “the other,” we become both less tolerant and more willing to accept restrictions on our basic liberties.
Candidates who play on our fears are thus a far bigger threat to our nation’s short- and long-term health than any of the dangers they exaggerate in order to do so.