Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seriously, Enough With The Panic

Jon Chait says to panic.

Look, if you lived through the Bush Regency, it is understandable to feel panicky.  Nick Kristoff worries that this feels like another lead-up to the Iraq War, when people were flummoxed that this was happening and no one could stop it.  How could you look at Dubya and think he was presidential material?  Yet he won because people liked him more than Gore.  How could you reward him with a second term?  And we did.

So it's sort of  built in that Democrats panic.  We are pre-disposed to think that disaster is right around the corner.  We lived through Gore's sighing and Kerry's swift-boating.

But panic works better on the Right than on the Left.  The Left will respond to stirring, aspirational visions (see Obama, Barack), but fear and doom and gloom tends to work against liberals.  It's at the center of Trump's appeal and the appeal of authoritarianism in general.  "Only Trump can save us" is effectively the campaign slogan of his supporters.

If panic helps get out the vote, if it fills the campaign coffers, if it gets Hillary to 270 electoral votes...OK.  Certainly, if you're black or Hispanic, you should be afraid of what Trump would unleash on your communities.

But this election will be won or lost among Republican leaning women in the suburbs of Denver and Philly and Charlotte.  Maybe panic is the right tactic, but part of me doubts it.

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