Fear Factor '04

This late October, voters have fear on their mind. We’re not talking ghost and goblins here.  We’re talking politics—and it’s getting scarier by the day. 

Both campaigns are making it seem that a victory for the opponent would lead to an Armaggedon.  For the Democrats, it’s primarily a tactic for domestic issues, while the Republicans use it aggressively in the debate over national security.

Vice President Dick Cheney argues the Democrats are not tough enough to stop future terrorist attacks.  He now suggests that thousands of lives are, in fact, at stake.

“The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever been used against us, with a biological agent, or a nuclear weapon,” said Vice President Cheney in a recent campaign speech.

As for nuclear weapons, North Korea actually increased its stockpile from one to at least a half-dozen during the Bush Administration.  John Kerry’s team has been quick to capitalize on this fact.

A Kerry campaign ad says, “We see it for ourselves. The mess in Iraq created by George Bush. Over 1,000 US soldiers killed.” Kerry himself adds, “As president, I’ll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us.’”

The Democrats are also using the fear factor to get to voters on both national and social security issues.

“On George Bush’s watch, America is more threatened than ever before,” says Kerry while on the campaign trail.

Three days in a row this week, John Kerry told voters the president also plans to cut or ruin the social security program.

However, the Bush campaign says fears about John Kerry are crucial.

“At a time of a great threat to our country, at a time of great challenge in the world, the Commander-in-Chief must stand on principle, not on the shifting sands of political convenience,” says President Bush.

The Bush campaign says John Kerry is trying to scare voters; the Kerry campaign says the president and vice president are trying to scare voters. Both are correct because fear is powerful ploy in campaign politics— a frightening thought.