America’s Crisis and the Politics of Fear

Photo by Dryhead | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Dryhead | CC BY 2.0


America is in crisis fueled by the politics of fear and the expansive use of social media.  My research on propaganda and fear suggests that President Trump’s support and actions reflect the politics of fear, or decision makers’ promotion and use of audience beliefs and assumptions about danger, risk, and fear in order to achieve certain goals. The new President’s executive orders have compromised cherished American values of freedom of religion, welcoming of immigrants and political refugees, respect for international organizations (e.g., U. N.,NATO), and trade agreements. He proudly states his beliefs in matters that are factually incorrect, such as 3-5 million fraudulent votes in the 2016 election, the efficacy of torture, and denies the impact of human pollution on climate change. Nevertheless, he is actually fulfilling many of his pledges made in a vulgar and uncivil campaign.

There are three major contributors to our current politics of fear. First, while many voters claimed to be angry, anger is based on fear, and there have been several decades of fear promoted mainly by the entertainment oriented mass media and popular culture presenting non-stop fear about crime, violence, drugs, gangs, immigrants, and more recently, terrorism. And most of this has occurred during a time when the crime rate, especially violent crime, was declining. This still goes on; 25-40% of local TV news reports are about crime and violence. Second,…

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