Fear has always been a potent motivator in American politics.
Fear of Communists lurking under the bed, fear of Liberals re-distributing our hard-earned money to welfare queens, fear of hippies undermining our kids' morals with their drugs and free love.
The Bush Administration was particularly adept at wielding the fear weapon: Remember how they used the climate after 9/11 to start wars and pass a raft of questionable legislation?
Fear of the unknown is a particularly useful tool. It’s what people can’t get their mind around that they find most terrifying, and what makes them most easily manipulated.
In the health care debate, the president and his people have fallen down on the job by failing to articulate what all Americans, the haves as well as the have-nots, have to gain from reform. By creating a vacuum of information, they’ve allowed special interests to define for the nation what change may mean in their own scary and self-serving way.
Like a herd of cattle, people can be spooked into stampeding if you manage to generate around them a fog of anxiety about an unknown peril; in this case, a fear of what they may lose, even though what they may now have is a lousy deal. The problem with a stampede is that once it begins, it’s difficult to control.
The stampede could go over a cliff, and then what would you have? Nobody left who can afford to buy your insurance, or your pharmaceuticals, or whatever else you may be peddling. Be very careful what you wish for.