Dial Back the Toxicity
Fear is a lot like opioids in that the fear-monger must keep increasing the level of fear to keep getting the effect he wants just as the dealer encourages greater use to keep his mark addicted. The danger is that at some point a crazy person will take it upon himself to try to alleviate the danger he has been convinced really exists. What is even more problematic is that fear creates an emotional block to critical thinking that keeps people from recognizing that there is far less real danger than they imagine. That is what makes it so unfortunate that our president, who believes that the ends justify the means, has chosen to stoke fear a primary means to get his base to turn out to vote.
Mr. Trump has a standard list of targets for his rhetoric. Currently, he is pushing the line that a “caravan” of Central Americans is dangerous. These are poor people who have been sold on the promise of America as a place where they can find freedom from fear and a chance for a better life and who are willing to walk 1,300 miles to get here. According to Mr. Trump, the caravan presents a “national emergency” that he may have to use the military to thwart; and, if they get into the United States, they will “bankrupt” us. Then Mr. Trump escalated to allege that the caravan is harboring Middle Easterners and MS-13, although he finally had to admit he has no evidence to support that claim.
The FBI and CIA have put MS-13’s total world-wide membership at about 12,000 — almost enough people to fill Wheeling Island stadium! Then his favorite boogie-man became “fake news,” which is not really “fake,” but rather simply news Mr. Trump does not like. The job of the press is to hold politicians to account whether they like it or not. The President himself is a major source of what is really “fake news.”
Mr. Trump has also had a string of individuals he constantly attacks: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, Elizabeth Warren, and George Soros.
Mr. Trump likes to deny that he is responsible for today’s toxic political atmosphere, but he is. He lit the match, and he keeps re-lighting it on a nearly daily basis. Now the rhetoric and toxicity has produced a bomb-throwing crazy. It’s time to dial it back — a lot — and find a more acceptable means of getting his voters to turn out. It’s also time to put aside the “ends justify means” ethic that has been deployed both within the United States and in our foreign affairs. While it may work for Mr. Trump in the short run, it will not serve the interests of the United States in the long run.