When eerie hypotheticals of a future administration are used as campaign ammunition, the theories and warnings are derisively dismissed as “fear-mongering.”
Excuse me, but don’t you think there’s a reason that Election Day is so close to Halloween? It’s not just so the politically inclined have a chance to don creepy rubber masks of their favorite politicos — or, as was the macabre case in a West Hollywood lawn display, hang a Sarah Palin mannequin from the gallows while John McCain emerges from the hellfire. It’s not a conspiracy that sees us casting votes zombie-style while still in candy corn and Milk Dud sugar shock.
The shrieks of political “fear-mongering” get louder as we approach All Hallows Eve, and thus Election Day. But there’s a difference between a Friday the 13th scare and a Shining scare, a difference between absurd fear-mongering that included Freddy Krueger and his razor hands and that which strikes fear because in one’s subconscious, it strikes a note of truth. That’s why Child’s Play and House of Wax are silly, scary popcorn flicks, but The Birds, Fatal Attraction, and A Clockwork Orange are actual spine-tinglers.
So when we consider the scary scenarios of the next potential administration, seeing as how Halloween and Election Day are so inextricably woven by more than just calendar sharing (ballots full of ghoulish choices, for example), it’s important to think about what is labeled as “fear-mongering” in this context. What is a silly argument solely meant to strike unwarranted fear in the hearts of voters, and which is a realistic possibility that doesn’t need any political special effects to be super-scary?
Here’s the frivolous fear-mongering solely intended for maximum political box office: the Democratic contention that women will be driven into back alleys for abortions should the McCain/Palin ticket win. Here’s the truth: McCain does believe that Roe v. Wade should be reversed, but the likelihood of that happening is not great. Even if it was reversed, he believes the legality of abortion should be for individual states to decide, and certainly not every state would actually ban abortion.
The Republicans face accusations of pointless fear-mongering of their own.
There still hasn’t been a good, secular explanation of how gays inking a marriage contract would destroy the traditional family. (If your religious beliefs oppose gay partnerships, then just say so.) But the GOP is mostly needled on the issue of terrorism and national security. Mind you, they’re usually accused of the fear-mongering by those who claimed ‘there is no terrorist threat’ while, in the same year (2003), there were two suicide bombings targeting foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, two suicide bombings at Istanbul synagogues, numerous attacks on Israelis and more.
Here’s a scary reality: The next president will likely be tested in a gruesome way. Heck, even Joe Biden admitted this: “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. . . . Watch. We’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.” Obama corrected his gaffe-master who “sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes” by saying Biden was really referring to any president being tested.
Think of Pakistan: Asif Ali Zardari had just made his first speech as president to parliament when suicide bombers managed to turn the heavily guarded Islamabad Marriott into a fireball. Terrorism capitalizes on change, because such administration or policy shifts leave an opening for instability. Seeing Zardari come into office, they knew they weren’t dealing with martial-law Musharraf anymore. Seeing a Democrat coming into office, the challenge for terror groups is going to be how they can knock him off the course of the War on Terror, a concept today derided by many on the far left.
The president has the role of guiding us through the inevitable scary times. So, this being Halloween, I’ll be thinking of one specter in particular while considering the fear-mongering and scary scenarios in politicospeak.
Abraham Lincoln’s ghost has been a well-known resident of the White House, even still — though as Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands can attest, he’s at least polite enough to knock on the door before scaring the bejeezus out of you. It’s all relative, because Andrew Jackson’s ghost reportedly haunted the Lincolns. And Lincoln was haunted by a thing or two in his tenure, such as the death of his young son, Willie, who’s also taken up ghostly residence — and of course the fact that his life was cut short in the key point of his crucial second term. The guy was perpetually tormented, as the weight of the war weighed heavily on his lanky shoulders.
Lincoln was the president faced with one of the scariest scenarios imaginable — the potential collapse of a country — yet dove in and faced the demons. I just hope that after Nov. 4, he sticks around — it could get a lot scarier in the White House without a few reminders of Abe.