Two days ago Senator Ted Cruz presented his stock-issue tale of woes, wrapping it up by saying, “Your world is on fire!” An alarmed three-year old girl in the crowd innocently asked, to no one in particular, “Is the world on fire?” As the crowd chuckled, Cruz tried to soften the blow with an answer but he had done his damage. This young sweetie had implanted in her innocent little heart the knowledge that the world is a dangerous place and doom is near at any moment.
Well, the world is a dangerous place and “doom” is possible any moment in that misfortune or even death is always a possibility. But Mr. Cruz and his fear-mongering allies know that trotting out a litany of woes and emphasizing impending doom is a perfect way to impact the old-brain fear-base that we all have and is especially predominant in his party’s base. Now three-year old children are very impressionable but so are these “low-information” voters that predominate the extreme of Cruz’s party. I, too, have a fear-base but I also have a neo-cortex that allows meta-cognition and the ability to formulate a hopeful scenario even in the face of apparent “doom.” For example, I am aging and the River Styx is fast approaching but this dreadful notion is not as frightening to me as I’m able to approach the end of life with hope. (So far, anyway!)
Being a Christian like Mr. Cruz, I subscribe to the notion that “Perfect love casteth out fear” but I think this should disallow fear as a political ploy. Though not a politician, I do not have any reason to subscribe to, much less constantly promulgate, a litany of woes when there is so much to be grateful for and so many opportunities before me. But, if I was a politician in the Republican Party, I too would probably have “drank the kool-aid” and know that fear-mongering…or “catastrophizing”…was the sure-fire way of winning over the base of my party. Certainly the ills of our society and of the world need to be addressed, but focusing on these issues to roil the masses is cheap and even tawdry.