The Party of Fear vs Party of Hope

Former president Donald Trump addresses supporters during a “Save America” rally July 3 in Sarasota, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack for The Washington Post)

Both the Democrat and Republican parties employ Fear and Hope messaging in marketing their campaigns. The Republicans present Fear like a paperback novel you can’t put down. Will you be murdered on an evening stroll by someone who doesn’t look like you? And did you notice there’s more of them moving into your neighborhood? For the Democrats, Fear is like a chapter in an assigned textbook. There are x number of guns in America, unless we reduce them by 10%, thousands of lives will be lost by gunshot wounds.

Hope is treated similarly by the parties. Under the influence of Former President Trump, Republicans treat Hope like a weapon: we must fight the Democrats, in the hope they don’t turn America into a Socialist prison. Republicans hope to go back to a peaceful era when there were fewer problems and less troublesome minorities.

Democrats’ most passionate messaging is wrapped around hope. But to be effective it must go beyond producing thoughtful position briefs, as Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren excelled in releasing. Former President Obama grasped that there was a popular yearning for a more open and just society than any previous president since President Kennedy. They both gave hope to those that wanted the nation to move forward as a community to improve everyone’s life. They did it through projecting hope in a personal way.

However, fear and hope are emotions, not separated from facts but not confined by them either. Each party cherry picks the data and the real-life experiences that reinforce their positions. Debates between candidates rarely sway the general public. It is the listener’s expectations that frame their judgement of a debate.

Since the 1960’s the Democrat Party has gradually and uniformly adopted liberalism. While the Republican Party has done the same in embracing a conservatism. These philosophical differences have led each party to encourage expectations that define hope and fear in diametrically opposite ways. For Democrats, hope is an expectation that life can be better for all through change. For Republicans, fear is an expectation that life will be worse for them if changes are made.