What are the politics of fear?  Typically it is when republicans or democrats exaggerate the nature of a threat to push through a change in policy or to keep things the same.  Change or the status quo will depend on which party has the power and which sectors of voters are being appealed to. 

American Politics


For example, if the republicans are in power, they may use the politics of fear to keep anti-terror laws or push new ones in place.  If the democrats are in power, the republicans may use the fear of terrorism to win back power by proselytizing that the democrats aren’t taking the threat seriously enough, and that they will do more to protect the folks.

Both parties do it.  And fear politics is used on an array of issues including:

  • Terrorism
  • Gun control
  • The deficit
  • The environment
  • Immigration
  • Social security
  • Election of ideological judges that could sway issues like abortion.

Despite our public awareness of it, fear politics can be very effective.  Whether a politician or an interest group initially stokes the fire is irrelevant.  Once the flame is ignited, the media, and a significant portion of the public become involved and it’s game on.  A national discussion ensues and each and every politician better have a position on it.  If they don’t have their own plan, they better be for or against someone else’s.

When elections roll around the issues are usually debated based on the weight and the level of fear and concern each issue has been able to generate.

If an issue can’t crack “the fear list”, it generally is not discussed nor dealt with to the extent that maybe it should.  One such issue that is not on the list and should inspire more fear is cancer.  Why?  Because it is coming for you.  And it is coming for your loved ones.  This is not hyperbole.  The rate of cancer diagnosis has gone from one in twenty to one in three for women, and one in two for men.  The deaths due to cancer dwarfs, and I mean dwarfs, the amount of deaths due to terrorism and guns combined.

It doesn’t discriminate.  Not by gender, not by race and not even by age.  Are you worried about gun shootings at school?  I understand your concern, but from 1980 to 2012 there have been 297 children sadly killed due to school shootings.

In 2014 alone, the American Cancer Society projects that there are going to be 1,350 deaths of children under the age of 15 due to cancer.

And unlike guns and terrorism which can offer a quick death,  death by cancer can be slow, torturous and painful.  It can strip you of your dignity and render you and your loved ones powerless. Ultimately, breaking your spirit as you reach the point where death becomes the solution and not the problem.

We need to make cancer more of an issue so that our politicians can compete for staking out the higher ground in terms of:

  • Doing more to find a cure.
  • Pressing the FDA
  • The pharmaceutical companies.
  • Hospitals.

Regarding hospitals: Just as poor communication and human error may have contributed to 9/11, and improvement in those areas makes us safer, so too can improvement in communication and lessening of human error save and or prolong life with regards to cancer and other causes of hospitalization.

Unlike some saber-rattling and fear-mongering with regards to other issues, the cancer threat is not a hypothetical or theoretical, “if this than that”, threat.  It is real.  It was real yesterday, today and will be real tomorrow and the day after that… unless we stop it.  Maybe I am now playing the politics of fear.  Good.  If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. 

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