Saturday, July 26, 2003

There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself...

FDR's nostrum may be truer than we ever imagined. Imagine if the intolerance, the irrational self-flagellation of Conservative security policies, and the paranoid destruction of civil liberties which characterize the Conservative movement were itself based on fear. The very tendencies which make liberals justly afraid of Conservative administrations are born of, and thrive on, fear.

That is exactly the case, according to a new study of the Conservative mind from Berkeley. The study concludes that the conservative mind is shaped by five predominant traits:

    Fear and aggression

    Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

    Uncertainty avoidance

    Need for cognitive closure

    Terror management

I think most liberals have long suspected that there was just something different about how Conservatives' minds work. What this study suggests is that there really is nothing to fear, but fear itself. A climate of fear, of uncertainty, and of threat, favors Conservative politicians as those who think like them are activated and motivated to act politically. Of course, it can be overcome, FDR did just that. In a time of deep crisis and fear he engineered the defining liberal coalition of the 20th century. How? By telling people not to fear.

There is a lesson here for liberals, especially in light of the MoveOn survey showing grave concern with security and civil rights. We mustn't fear. Our messages should be of hope and change. Our litany- that the challenges we face will be overcome. We will endure as a nation, as a community, and as individuals. We will rise to the challenges of our time; and as Americans always have, we will prevail. Not by lashing out at everything alien, nor by retreating into fascistic unity , nor by dismantling the armatures of freedom we have worked so hard to erect; we will prevail with intelligent leadership, pragmatic skepticism, and more than a little well placed hope.

We will prevail over fear with Dr. Howard Dean. A healer; the sort of man who can calm a suffering child, and inform a man that he is dying, holding his hand through his fear for himself and for his family. An empiricist; a man not afraid to tell people the emperor has no clothes. A problem solver; a man who can diagnose a disease by the subtle skeins of symptomology. An indomitable spirit; a man who loves his country and is determined to help us save it from the surfeit of fear which Bush nurtures and encourages to feed his own vanity and enhance his own power.

One last promise of the Howard Dean Presidency. He knows the value of basic research. Now that we know the Conservatism is caused by cognitive patterns, perhaps in much the same way as depression, maybe medical science can find a drug to cure it :)

Never fear, Dean is here!


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