I've started asking my fellow Republicans that, because it really interests me. The power point recently leaked from the Republican National Committee's fundraising section seems illuminating enough, complete with scary caricatures of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. But what, if anything, are the rank and file of the Party (and the Tea Partiers, Independents, Christians, etc.) supposed to be afraid of?
"They're taking away our rights!"
I hear that a lot, but let's unpack that a bit, shall we?
If we examine the Bill of Rights, we see that the majority of our rights in the first ten Constitutional amendments are still intact. I haven't seen Rush Limbaugh imprisoned, or Glenn Beck put away into a mental asylum. I haven't even seen AM talk radio or Fox News suppressed, let alone any of last year's Tea Parties dispersed by baton-wielding cops.
Freedom of Religion? One of the things that has become very tiresome to hear is the constant screeching that Christians are an oppressed minority, being persecuted by Godless Atheists. As of 2009, there are about 249 million people in the USA who identify themselves as Christians, as opposed to 2 million self-identified atheists, irreligious, skeptics, etc. Hardly seems a fair fight.
Right to bear arms? With the Supreme Court poised to strike down municipal gun-control laws, I don't see why people say this. The Dems tried this about twenty years ago, failed, and there's no sign of any legislative push against guns.
Right to privacy's taken a lot of hits, thanks to the "USA PATRIOT Act." I won't go out of my way to say who was the majority Party and President back then (GOP and GWB) - that's SO pre-9/11.
"Obama's a Socialist/Muslim/Fascist/Atheist/Communist/Progressive/Doodyhead/Liberal/Stalinist/etc.!" (Pick one, people - some of these are mutually exclusive)
There's currently only one close-to-genuine Socialist in Washington right now, and he's a Senator from Vermont. What people are saying with the above declaration is that they're afraid of that 'change' thing. Machiavelli put it best when he said there's nothing harder than doing real change - the people who are against it are solidly against it, and even your supporters will be lukewarm. No matter what he does, it's an uphill climb.
"Obama's made us less safe!"
How? He's unleashed more missiles from more drones than his predecessor, he sent more troops into Afghanistan, and he personally authorized Navy snipers to kill Somali pirates. The Underpants Bomber merely points out the stupidity of trying to make airport security airtight. A lone fanatic will always make it through.
"Obama's trying to enlarge government!"
So did Bush, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
"We don't need government-run health care!"
Ever heard of Medicare? Medicaid? COBRA? Those are government-run health care programs. Fifteen times the number of people who died on 9/11 die every year from lack of affordable health care. THAT fact should scare the fertilizer out of you.
So you see, gentle readers, you really DON'T have much to be afraid of - apart from the lies, hatred and sheer screaming bullshit spewing from Fox News. But this rabid pandering to The Fear has finally touched a nerve. People have started to close their wallets to the GOP (notably a big-time private evangelical donor) and the GOP Senate leadership has had to start running away from their own Party's strategy.
So calm down. There is less here than meets the eye.