The Only Thing to Fear is Fearmongers


“The only thing that ever fixes people is fear.”

Tucker Carlson is quoted as saying that in response to a question on how conservatives can gain momentum in the United States in general and in the mid-term elections in particular. Carlson used to host CNN’s Crossfire until Jon Stewart came on, burned it down and it was soon cancelled. Now he is editor-in-chief of website The Daily Caller, whose top story when I checked was how President Obama used the hand in which he was holding a coffee cup to salute Marines as he stepped off Air Force One. This was the top story on the homepage the day that we started bombing in Syria, which I suspect would have been a more important story.

Carlson made his remarks at an Americans for Prosperity event opposing Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina. It was similar to the things he would say on Crossfire that Stewart had said was “hurting America.” Apparently, that’s still Carlson’s mission. He might say he is saving this country from Obama, but, really, his firebombs just burn it all down.

You don’t have to be conservative or liberal to see that fixing people with fear is no way to lead. I went to college during the Reagan years. Yes, that makes me kind of old, but it also means I lived through a period of deep partisan division when things still got done. I remember some serious debates, but they were debates. You could learn from one another by testing your own beliefs.

I remember relishing how William F. Buckley would craft an argument or an artful rejoinder. It made people of any political persuasion think. Ah, there you go, thinking. Fear speaks to instinctive reaction. A flinch. Thinking speaks to our higher brain function. An inspiration.

We are entering another difficult period of war and economic consequences. We are still grappling with an economy that looks better in the numbers but worse on the street.

The tussling and action of the 1980s and 1990s brought us growth. Some can argue if the ‘80s’ growth was better than the ‘90s’ or vice versa. But it was expansion during some of the deepest political division this country has known.

I know Carlson’s remark is just one line from a demoted demagogue, but it is a common sentiment that is not helping us. We need all our ideas, all our attention and all our respect – now.


Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Connect with Steve →

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