What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: nathi_rhapsody
Few people would disagree with the assessment that the advocates of big government—a broad but loose coalition consisting of champions in both parties of welfare and warfare—have made steady and consistent political gains in the last century.
Why have they been winning?
My casual observation during the past several years leads me to a simple conclusion: one group’s arguments has strong emotional appeal, while the other largely resorts to intellectual arguments; the former group is on the offense, whereas the latter is on defense.
Under various banners (social security for the elderly, killing terrorists before they kill us, free prescription drugs for children, No Child Left Behind, and the list goes on…) individuals on either side of the political aisle have found success in achieving their political goals by lacing their objective with emotion. For the warfare camp, they use fearmongering to capitalize on people’s innate desire for security; scared of the inflated threat, the people readily surrender their liberties for whatever "homeland security" the government is willing to offer. The welfare camp profits by speaking to people’s sense of fairness and brotherhood, eliciting their support by proposing programs that help the sick and downtrodden among us, look out for the little guy, and spread the wealth around.
This coalition has succeeded time and time again precisely because the targets of their agenda have with time become ignorant, and thus impervious to the other group’s main weapon: intellectual arguments. Uninformed about history, unwilling to spend the time learning it, and preferring to utilize their free time in more entertaining and positive ventures, they become largely immune to such simple things as facts. The big government group rarely declines in membership.
Further, the small government lobby continues to diminish its strength by squabbling over minor differences. While factions within this group agree on the vast majority of issues, they spend their time and energy contesting the consequences of judicial review, the constitutionality of the sixteenth amendment, and the minor nuances of the proper role of government (among a host of other subjects). To be sure, these things are important. But so long as they serve as dividing factors to waste time and lose focus on a common objective, they impede this group’s ability to rally around a single standard and mount an effective assault against their ideological opponents.
Through repeated instances of the aforementioned process occurring, the vocal minority of the emotion-based alliance becomes the majority. Their win is easily guaranteed, as they take new ground while the opposition is busy running in circles and bickering over minor issues.
Emotional arguments are compelling and seductive, though logically empty. But as long as those producing reasoned, intellectual arguments continue—like crabs in a bucket—to cut one another down, they will lose ground and forfeit strategic opportunities to strike in the future.
The masses throughout the ages have been easily enchanted by emotional appeals and irresistible flattery. If we defenders of liberty are to win, we must reject the discord that has become commonplace in our circles and rally ourselves to a single banner. The time has perhaps never been more perfect to advance our cause. Just as the tiniest drink of water can be a precious gift to a man dying of thirst, so too will the principles of liberty refresh the parched soul long subjected to tyranny—and there are countless such souls among us.
We’ve got work to do. Let’s stop wasting time and starting taking the field.