Fright Night and the Polls.
So in the spirit of this special day, I'd like to ask the reader about what they fear most on this coming Tuesday. It should come as no surprise that voters all along the spectrum have plenty of nightmare scenarios to choose from. Obviously they range from the realistic to the perverse. For some reason this cycle has presented us with an inordinate amount of speculation regarding worst-case situations, regardless of who wins the presidency. From my biased position, I would suggest that the McCain campaign has worked harder to stoke fears on their side. Like it or not, he occupies the establishment position during this contest, and so he has been forced to paint his opposition as the manifestation of particularly scary change.
Some of the predictions emanating from the Far Right are so breathless that they seem absurd. I've seen and heard multiple accounts of how Barack Obama will change the United States into a Socialist Republic. He'll make rich people cede their wealth to welfare recipients, and no one will have any incentive to make money anymore. Among the Christian Right, a common sentiment is that the Senator from Illinois will reveal his secretly-held devotion to Islam and make Christianity illegal forever hereafter. The Christian Reformationist Dr. James Dobson (founder and leader of Focus on the Family) predicts "hardship," "persecution" and "suffering" for Christians if Obama becomes president.
Interestingly, religious leaders have also been enflaming the fears of Jews who are still undecided about who to vote for. They have made repeated attempts to link Obama to supposed "associates" who have been perceived as vehemently anti-Israel. No matter how many times the candidate has reasserted his support for our Middle Eastern ally, wingnuts like "Joe the (Tax-Dodging) Plumber" continue to issue grave and unfounded warnings. Obviously such tools of the Republican Party get their marching orders from the top. John McCain's fear-based politics have been intentionally crafted to bring out the very worst paranoid delusions in his followers. I could fill up at least a hundred posts with more examples.
Even if John McCain were to mount an increasingly unlikely comeback, some of his supporters fear a widespread uprising and riots among African-Americans. On the opposite side, McCain's detractors worry that the Arizona senator might die in office, leaving the nation in the hands of his singularly unqualified running mate. Others are afraid that he will signal his approval for Israeli air attacks on Iran, which would likely lead to World War III. My own horror involves McCain prevailing and giving an acceptance speech that culminates with him tearing his own leathery face off, only to reveal that he is actually George W. Bush. Finally, the only prospect of an Obama presidency that provokes my anxiety is the small minority that may wish him harm.