Al Gore’s attempts to scare us into taking action on climate change in his film An Inconvenient Truth, even to the point of distorting the truth (or telling lies). Fundamentally, the tactic works — just ask any school kid who has seen Gore’s film.  

Appealing to fear is a common tactic in political discourse. However, it is not just Al Gore. Liberals and conservatives both engage in it, only the issues are different.

As Peter Jaworski points out, even libertarians are not immune to using fear:

If you think the world is coming to an end because of the super dangerous threat of ice glaciers melting, the sun blowing up, hurricanes, tidal waves and all the assorted outcomes of climate change in general, you might be a liberal. You might think that all of these disastrous outcomes are likely. And you might think that there is just one solution — (much) bigger government.

[…]

If you think modern civilization is going to come to an end because of Sharia law, women in burqas, suicide bombers, and radicals who really, really hate cartoon depictions of their holy people, you might be a conservative. You might think that this disastrous outcome is likely. And you might think that there is just one solution — (much) bigger government.

[…]

If you think we are on the brink of enslavement, are subject to a conspiracy of the wealthy elites (especially the bankers!), think there’s a government camera on every corner, and think bureaucrats are monitoring your emails and digging through your garbage, you might be a libertarian. You might think that this is a disastrous calamity and the worst form of treachery. And you might think that there is just one solution — (much) smaller government.

And there you have it. A psychological explanation of your political philosophy through seeing what you are most afraid of. Fear environmental havoc? You’re probably a liberal. Fear a looming terrorist onslaught? You’re probably a conservative. Fear the state itself? You’re probably a libertarian.

Call this awareness-raising. No political philosophy is immune from fear mongering, and all of them have their Chicken Littles with placards declaring that we’re witness to the end times. And the sky still hasn’t fallen.

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