Campaign Rhetoric Prompts Use of Four-Letter Word

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There is a four letter word that has become part of our collective lexicon over the past year. I hear people using horrible little word all the time whether they are talking about their future, their jobs, their children and even the election. Heck, this word is even in the title of a popular reality show. This four letter scourge is—Fear.

With the current economic meltdown, and a very uncertain future looming, fear has now become our new best friend. The constant bombardment of bad financial news means we are bellying up to the bar with fear, and its faithful sidekick, anxiety. Now, add political attack ads to the mix, and you’ve now got a delicious fear cocktail shaken and stirred.

There’s no calm quarter, even when you try to escape into the fantasy of your favorite TV show. This political season, fear is being used with great aplomb. During commercial breaks, we are told if candidate X is elected instead of candidate Y, every calamity—from higher taxes to terrorist boogey men will plague our nation, state and local school board.

We have seen the upshot of all this political fear mongering. Rabid supporters are shouting venom about the other guy–despite the pleas for civil discourse from their own candidate. It’s even escalated to a misguided supporter faking what she claimed was a politically-inspired physical attack.

And of course, the biggest fear elephant in the room is the possible election of America’s first black president. There is a low level buzz of fear and anxiety in some whites that the election of Barack Obama will embolden all black people who will now seek revenge and punish white folks for every racial slight we’ve ever experienced. It reminds me of the title of a 1990′s rap album Fear of a Black Planet. Trust me, black people don’t have time for this type of nonsense like you, we’re trying to keep our jobs and businesses, our homes, and save for our children’s future.

There is fear in the black community too. Fear that even a Harvard educated black man, who has demonstrated racial crossover appeal, cannot reach this highest pinnacle of power. Some, who are still smarting from the results of the 2000 presidential election, believe the fix is already in to rob Obama. And the greatest unspoken fear is that some sicko will use violence to extinguish our hope.

No matter who is elected, the new president will have to slay the fear monster. He will have to tackle fear by inspiring us to see that all of us, even when we disagree with each other, love our country. He will need the courage to ask us for shared sacrifice and encourage a rededication to American ingenuity that will put the wheels back on our economic engine.

All of us have to work on breaking the clutches of fear. With all the financial and spiritual turmoil our country is experiencing, it’s clear we have to work together to figure out a way to overcome our fear of the present, future-and each other.