A Perspective of Fear Divides the Nation

A cautionary perspective

Impeachment proceedings highlight perspective differences across the nation. Confusion, fear, and defensiveness – from everyone – is easy to witness.

Hamilton wrote on Aug. 18, 1792, his concern of the country dealing with a future problematic president. An excerpt from his letter George to Washington, reported by the Washington Post, is as follows:

When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the ability of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanor—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’

Democrats say it points to Trump. That perspective, obviously, is not shared by the Republicans. They claim that the Democrats are disingenuous and dangerous. The disagreement, the difference in perspective, tears the nation apart.

A fear perspective divides regular people

Sabrina Tavernise reports in her New York Times article regarding last weekend’s protests (Women’s March, Anti-Abortion, and Gun’s Rights) that:

In almost 50 interviews at all three rallies with activists on the left and right, many people said they still found some common cause with the other side. The subjects of their ire were politicians, not regular people. But many others said they disliked and even feared the other side.

Fear, generated on both sides of the political divide, stokes the distrust and defensiveness. Can we come to understand another’s perspective, comprehend their fears, such that the nation will heal and eventually come together?

For both Republicans and Democrats, varying ideologies are always at work. That’s to be expected and, at times, even encouraged. We, as a nation, need all perspectives to form a balanced governance for all citizens.

More than ideology, fear works to stultify congressional and constituent consensus with both political parties. It seems there are two forms of fear at work: Fear of reprisal, and fear of losing advantage.

Fear of reprisal

Trump has partially built his reputation on being vindictive to those who cross him. He wrote in his book, “Think Big”:

When someone crosses you, my advice is “Get even!” … Always get even. Go after people that go after you. Don’t let people push you around. Always fight back and always get even.

That’s a sobering attitude and posture and threat. Few would fault defending one’s self. However, this advice is more spiteful and intentional than usual. In the same book, Trump offers a list of advice topics, two of which are:

  • When someone attacks you publicly, always strike back.
  • Go for the jugular so that people watching will not want to mess with you.

Fear of reprisal, expressed so blatantly and backed up with a history of Trumpian examples, surely curbs criticism. It is especially so when he is in the public space of the presidency where so much power is at his disposal, where political exposure makes any disagreement a trigger for retaliation. Republican legislators certainly fall victim to this kind of dominance.

Fear of losing advantage

Fear of losing advantage is common. It’s not a fear that Trump controls, though it’s certainly one his office nurtures. We experience such fear any time we confront a situation wherein we lose some control, forfeit a sense of safety, or relinquish a perceived prestige.

Racism is a good example of the fear of losing advantage. While racism has many facets, losing advantage raises its head when conditions change and we feel uncomfortable – sometimes not even realizing why we do. Our nation’s history is full of racism wherein one faction of society is relegated to the back of the bus, retained on a reservation, or subject to the red lines of housing (the list goes on and is long). Whites, shamefully, erect barriers and defend them, sometimes with violence, to ensure losing advantage is not realized.

Trump’s base enjoys an advantage that his belligerence brings to a minority who resent Washington insiders, elitism, and immigrants (again, the list continues). Such resentment can even surface for whomever is sympathetic to the disadvantaged, a perspective that the lazy are overly and unfairly nurtured.

These are not ignorant people nor do they shrink from what they view as the principles of these United States. Most are patriotic. Most consider their view justified and well within reason. Yet, there is a suffering from fear that limits a more inclusive perspective – a defense of their voting choice!

Equal Voice Voting contends with fear of losing advantage

Fear of losing advantage is actually shared by Republicans and Democrats alike. As I’ve contacted legislators across the nation about Equal Voice Voting (EVV), the fear of losing advantage emerges. It is the only objection I encounter! Legislators, who hold the state’s majority, fear the loss of electoral votes if EVV were adopted. They claim that such vote erosion (never mind that all votes of their constituents would matter) their state would be less significant in the election. Translation: The political party comes first, constituents come last.

Ideology differences alone do not prevent us from respect and compromise. Fear shapes a perspective of distrust that divides the nation. Impeachment won’t heal the nation. Only we the people can find our common cause. Indeed, we must!

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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