Republicans running campaign of fear
By VAL TORRENS
North Kitsap Herald Columnist
October 31, 2008 · Updated 2:59 PM
How people respond to situations has just as much to do with what is happening as it does with who is in charge. Leaders can lead by focusing on the positive or the negative. They can appeal to people’s better instincts or their fears. While most leaders can use both effectively, which one is the predominant style says something about them.
This election season has seen both styles in play. While both sides have used attack ads, it has been the Republicans that have leaned more heavily on fear and scare tactics. Given how well that approach worked in 2004 to get Bush re-elected, it is not surprising.
A review of what has come out of the McCain-Palin campaign shows messages that seek to resurrect the fear from bygone days – communism – and paint Obama red with it. Only those ignorant of history, political science and our Constitution would be taken in by this tactic.
The robber baron era of the late 1800s and early 1900s laid the foundation for the antitrust legislation and regulations that ensued. It also set the stage for the amendment that gave this country the income tax. This was all done in response to what was seen as gross greed and lack of recognition that the wealth was a direct result of the work employees did for their employers.
None of that was considered socialism and still isn’t. If anything, the current scenarios to save our financial institutions have far more in keeping with socialism – the government bailout/purchase of private sector banks – than any of Obama’s redirected tax breaks to the middle class. Obama’s plan will put more money into middle class pockets, allowing everyone to do exactly what Bush told us to do after 9/11: go shopping. That will reinvigorate the economy far more than the trickles that have come from the rich since the Reagan era.
Even Henry Ford understood that in order to grow his business he needed far more people than the few rich to buy his cars. He increased the wages of his workers so that they could accumulate enough to purchase their own vehicle.
Our country’s income tax was and is designed to be progressive with those making more, paying more. However, the payroll tax, the one that provides for Social Security, is not progressive – it is regressive. It is a system the poor and middle class pay far more proportionally into than the rich. Anyone making over $102,000 will pay a smaller percentage in payroll taxes than those making less. Yet, when it comes time to collect, the wealthy will get the most from it even though they did not pay their proportional fair share. Obama wants to change that, McCain does not.
That is redistributing the wealth – to the wealthy. If McCain were honest about it, he would acknowledge that. But, that won’t get him votes, so he raises the spectre of socialism and plays to people’s fears.
McCain keeps saying he will shift from the negative but that is yet to happen. People are looking for a positive reason to vote for someone one, not a reason to not do so. Obama has crafted a message that holds out hope and promise for the future. It is resonating with voters because people want to believe in this country again.
It is something that people all over the world are looking for as well. It should be clear by now, thanks to corporate America and outsourcing, that we can no longer stay within our borders and act as if it does not matter what is going on in the rest of the world. The world is watching this election and is waiting to see what choice America makes.
Whether the United States will continue to be a major player on the world stage is in play at this point. One candidate already has the world waiting to work with him, the other does not. One candidate is the face of the future, the other the face of the past.
Tuesday, Nov. 4 is a pivotal day. Our destiny as a country is in our hands. Do your part to shape it and vote if you have not already done so.
Val has been called a community activist — or agitator — depending upon one’s view. She contributes her time in the fields of arts, education, human rights, lacrosse, land use, politics and her Jewish community. Val has been an adjunct faculty member of OC since 1980 where she teaches political science and speech. She resides outside of Poulsbo with her husband and their pets.