Thursday, September 07, 2006

Politics Of Fear On The Ballot In November

As election season moves into high gear, it's obvious that President Bush and the Republican Party are going to fully concentrate on the one issue that they still feel resonates with voters in their favor: National Security.

Today in Georgia, Bush delivered another in a series of speeches aimed at highlighting the successes in the fight against terrorism but he also wants to make clear to the American public that there is still much more work to be done.

"Over the past five years, we have waged an unprecedented campaign against terrorism at home and abroad and that campaign has succeeded in protecting the homeland," Bush said. "We've learned the lessons of September the 11th."

Fortunately for the Republicans, more Americans believe they will do a better job of keeping the country safe from terror on our homeland but the gap is no longer as large as it used to be. Unfortunately for the Republicans, more Americans believe the Democratics will do a better job in just about everything else, including managing the economy, immigration and the war in Iraq.

Many pundits have said that ultimately this election will be a referendum on the war in Iraq, but if Bush and the Republicans continue to campaign on the terror theme it will be more of a referendum on how the American people want to view not only the world around them but the world inside of them. Since 9/11, Americans have been living in constant fear of another terrorist attack and Republicans have done an excellent job of keeping that fear alive. The election results in 2002 and 2004 were proof of their success.

But with the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan getting more difficult every day, people are beginning to wonder if the overall direction of the fight against terror is off track. The politics of fear have been very successful for President Bush, but the question now is whether there is any more water left in that well. Without question, people want to be safe, but they also want to "feel" safe, and if after 5 years Americans don't feel any safer, they may be looking for a change in direction.

There has always been a sense of "can do" in the American spirit and it remains to this day. But there is concern in some Republican circles that the doom and gloom of the past 5 years may have worn on many voters. November will tell us not just where we want to go as a country but also what kind of people we are deep down. If being fearful is okay with most, then the status quo will triumph and the Republicans will hold the House and Senate. If people want a new direction, the House will go Democrat and the Senate may be 50-50. If Americans are truly tired of the politics of fear, a Republican White House and a Democratic Congress may be just the medicine for a fearful nation.

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