Fear can be a great motivator. It often keeps us from doing stupid, painful or lethal things in our lives. Fear can be the difference between telling your boss exactly what you think of him and sucking it up for another day. There’s no secret to it, and people have the ability to exploit the fear of others for personal gain. Fear of the unknown. Fear of others. Fear of loss. Our leaders shouldn’t use fear to garner support, and yet here we are.
I’m afraid. Terrified actually. It keeps me awake at night and occupies my thoughts at the most unwelcome times. I’m not afraid of an immigrant taking my job. I’m not afraid of the black man I pass on the street. I’m not afraid of someone coming for my guns and I’m not afraid of homosexuals.
I’m afraid that my friends will lose their basic rights. I’m afraid that the next Elon Musk will be deported. I’m afraid my daughter will grow up in a world that only appreciates her for her cup size. I’m afraid my son will have even fewer opportunities because we isolate ourselves from the world. I’m afraid that we’ll do nothing to combat global warming. I’m afraid of more wars being fought over water. I’m afraid that we fear change so much we’ll doom ourselves to a slow, painful death.
I’m mostly afraid of the people suddenly rallying behind a candidate who lies with absolute impunity. A rich white man who bragged that he could shoot a person in Times Square and not lose followers. A man with so much contempt for the common people that he allegedly pays no taxes. And brags about it. A man with a long history of racism. Of sexism. Of shitting on anyone who didn’t follow him blindly.
I’m afraid of a person calling himself a self made billionaire, but who started out with a loan from his suspected white supremacist father that was anything but small. A father who bailed him out time and time again when he got into trouble financially. A man who often refuses to pay promised debts and tradesman. A man who believes bullying is a tactic for success. A man who purports to stand on the values of traditional, blue collar America. A man who instead stomps on them.
I’m afraid of the idea that not having a plan is an acceptable plan. A man who so needs adulation and acceptance that he campaigned rather than prepare for a debate. A man who panders to whomever his crowd is, raising the stakes on outlandish claims as the cheers grow ever louder. A man who encourages violence at his rallies. A man who rolls back threats with a child like comment of “I was kidding.”
I’m afraid of a man who aspires to the highest office in our land, to be one of the two or three most powerful people in the world and who abuses the power he already has. A man who, when pressed, roars back like a petulant child. A man who belies the values of compromise and respect by shouting over those who disagree. A man who speaks with the vocabulary of an average fourth grader. A man who makes no effort to hide his contempt for all who disagree with him.
I’m afraid of a man who inspires those with latent hatred and prejudices to voice them loudly. Who builds upon a foundation of hatred and avarice. A man who plays upon the fears of the uneducated. A man who manufactures facts in the absence of real manufacturing. A man who creates poorly constructed narratives to fit his image.
I fear a man who preyed upon the helpless during the housing crisis the way a lioness may prey upon a lame zebra. A man who called it being a smart businessman. A man who shows no remorse for the wrongs perpetrated against others. A man so privileged he has no basic understanding of the struggle to subsist in an increasingly difficult economy.
I am afraid of a man who castigates a women for standing with her husband after infidelity as stupid. A man who cheated on his own spouses and often treats women as throwaways. A man who fat shamed a beauty queen. A man who questioned a female presidential candidates appearance over her qualifications. A man who sees women more as objects to be possessed than as equals.
I am afraid of the people that man has inspired. I’m afraid of their hostility, of their hatred, and of their misconceptions of reality. I am afraid of what will happen if he wins and just as afraid of what will happen when he loses. I am afraid for people of color. I am afraid for anyone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual. I am afraid for other nations. I am afraid for the children of people who believe hate and prejudice is the answer.
I am afraid of a man who, at a campaign rally, asked Non-Christians to identify themselves and then asked the audience if they should keep them. A man who once again rolled it back with “I was joking.” A man who pushes his audiences into a rolling, frothing mass of hate and ignorance. A man who succeeds not with substantive policy but on sound bites that prey on the basic fears of White, Conservative Christian Americans. .
I am afraid that the very people who follow the teachings of Christ are the ones often supporting this man. I’m afraid that we’ve abandoned reason for madness. I’m afraid that our fear is now the engineer of a locomotive too big to steer clear of an abyss.
I am afraid for our future. I am afraid that this is a test America will fail. Our greatest test in a generation is before us, less than forty days away, and we may well wilt under the pressure. Will we continue down a path of ignorance, bullying and hatred? Will we continue to further stratify our society, all but ending the upward mobility enjoyed by our parents? Will we burden our children with crippling debt and no promise? Will we further poison our water, air and soil? Will we let the ignorance of the uneducated block the path of progress?
I’ve wrestled with these fears for some time, especially as friends and family turn toward that man. I wonder how they can miss the hate he breeds. I understand the attraction. The world has changed, and change is hard. I’m a white guy. I get the benefit of the doubt every time, and that is a powerful thing to have. As our society changes, that too recedes a little more every day. But I have hope.
I see people of all races and religions taking a stand. I see former enemies coming together to stand against the hate and rhetoric. I see men and women, rich and poor, speaking of hope and understanding. I am afraid. Terrified to be more accurate, but I do have hope. I hope that we are enough to stem the coming tide of darkness, intolerance and hate. I hope that we are enough to stop the Trump machine this November. Because if we don’t, our representatives have already shown that they will not.
Photo Credit: NBC Lost, screen capture