“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Those riveting, rallying words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt defined post-Pearl Harbor America. He was the right president for the perilous time. That was then.
Today such rhetoric would seem naive. Sure, the world is worrisome—from the lethal confrontations in the Middle East and Ukraine to Chinese hackers to pandemic aftermath. But it’s not the visceral, gut fear that comes with a surprise-attack, lost lives and a world war.
This time the ultimate fear is actually a home-grown iteration. It’s seeing the possibility of an existential threat back in the White House, where the ripple effects impact the economy, national security, the Constitution and freedom. American “liberty” and “patriotism” shouldn’t be perverted with a disingenuous, “anti-woke” connotation. But it’s now on the 2024 ballot. This is worthy of real fear.
It’s about having a narcissistic, autocratic, seditious sex offender–one who led the effort to overturn an election and would surround himself with a compliant DOJ and a cabinet of sycophantic, second-rate lapdogs—as an ex-president seeking retribution. It’s about having a criminal defendant-candidate, which should be an oxymoron. It’s about the Oval Office housing “the most flawed person I’ve ever met,” according to former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly. And it’s about a manifestly flawed system that includes the undemocratic Electoral College and a frighteningly large chunk of the electorate, Morons for a Messiah, living in a misinformation bubble and too easily manipulated by a faux populist cult leader, anxious to preside, according to Chris Christie, over a “vendetta presidency.”
Yes, Trump’s a source of real, tangible fear itself.