June 19, 2019 | 65° F

KLEIN: Fear has been major proponent of presidential election

Opinions Column: Four-year Term(oil)

Fear has been a powerful idea in this election cycle. Some used fear as a justification for their beliefs while others used it to exacerbate existing issues to fit their narrative. Both candidates were guilty of such language. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feared a world where President-elect Donald Trump would have the nuclear codes, just as Trump feared a world where Clinton would be responsible for answering the 1 a.m. phone call. Fear can be enticing when used to gain supporters, yet can also be downright dangerous when those supporters are left to their own devices. Whether preaching their own fears or inspiring new fears in the public, our politicians seem to be a one-trick pony, effectively riling us up without any real consequence. Most left-leaning college students just did a double-take and are now rereading that last part a third time. 

My words remain the same. The potential consequences of a Trump presidency should not be compared to those of a Clinton presidency, but instead should be compared to the average Republican’s potential presidency. One area where the criticism is warranted is the Cabinet selection. Most of the criticism being thrown at the President-elect has been surrounding his cabinet choices — and rightfully so. The deplorables have received a swanky upgrade from “Basket” to “Cabinet,” and I am nothing if not impressed. Now this is not to say that my palm did not make direct contact with my face when I heard about the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist, or ExxonMobil Corp Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson as his choice for secretary of state because it did ... and it hurt. However, Steve Bannon and Rex Tillerson’s appointment is a symptom of a plague that has been around far longer than Trump has.

Cronyism sucks. Let's start there.

It isn’t surprising to anyone — or, at least, it shouldn’t be — that the President-elect would surround himself with people that have either helped him in the past or can help him in the future. The catch comes when you realize that these decisions are made with a great deal of autonomy and often don’t reflect the best interest of the people. The results are a carefully selected assortment of heart-shaped chocolates filled with rat poison. No, the real results are a country going in the wrong direction spurred on by a vocal minority of citizens. Cronyism is a vessel through which minority opinions can gain a disproportional amount of traction in terms of legislation. It’s almost as if the practice itself isn’t compatible with a representative democracy, but let's not pretend that that’s a reasonable critique on our broadly representing, and comprehensively inclusive two-party system.

Ok ok ... I’ll try my best not to let this turn into a rant critiquing our two-party system, with pay-to-play positions, dividing this nation with identity politics, to the point of collapse — all in an effort to distract us from the global socioeconomic injustices capitalism has caused. But you know, whatever.

I started this article by talking about fear, and I intend to finish it by talking about fear. However, for the end of this piece, our players have switched controllers. Now it is no longer the politicians inciting fear amongst the people, but instead, the people driving fear into the hearts of their dearly beloved elected representatives.

It would appear that for the first time in my lifetime the population of the United States has reached its BS quota. Indeed the once enthusiastic attitude of the masses toward our government turned lackadaisical and now bottoms out at downright displeasure. This shift in public opinion begs far more questions than it offers answers. Perhaps the stable government we’ve enjoyed these past few centuries is finally showing its age. I’ll keep my fantasies of insurrection and revolution to myself, but one must wonder when these qualifiers for any society worth its salt will visit us yet again, and yes, I said “again.” This country was founded in revolution, and we may not forget that men and women died overthrowing a government to create the one we have currently. I linger on the point of this country's roots to draw ironies between then and now, if for nothing other than our apparent loss of foresight. As denoted in “The Federalist No. 10,” “Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.” The politicians of yesterday could teach those of today a thing or two, however, the demagogue does not come without omen, and what happens next is unchartered territory. Draw the conclusions you see fit to be drawn. Take heed in the warnings you wish to heed. It is in the end, when choosing whether or not to ignore history, that our options are but one.

Evan Klein is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in philosophy. His column, "Four-year Term(oil)," runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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Evan Klein

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