This Halloween, the scariest thing about the season is the midterm election cycle. Everyone is scared to death that the other side is going to win. To some degree, that is always true. What feels different this time is that politicians on both sides are embracing it as a strategy, not just for themselves, but for their constituents.
The Washington Post observes that “In key House districts sought by Democrats, fear of defeat becomes fuel.”
“Katie Hill, who has emerged as one of the party’s most promising first-time congressional candidates, looked out at a group of about 100 supporters days ago and revealed that new polling indicated a four-point swing against her in what for decades has been a conservative stronghold, driven by consolidation of Republican voters into the camp of her opponent.”
The candidate went on to express naked concern about the way things were headed.
“If we can’t do these ones, then how on earth are we going to do ones that are more red?”
The deeper fear is not just about losing, but about the other side winning. Democrats are horrified that Trump won, and that the GOP carried the smaller elections as well. Democrats feel like they were blindsided. Some of this could be laid at the feet of Hillary Clinton for knowing the dire state of her campaign and not being more forthright to voters in advance.
This time, Democrats know they are vulnerable, and are scared to death. They are hoping that stirring up the specter of a stronger Trump presidency will get out the vote.
Democrats are not the only ones using fear to stir things up, though. Just days ago, Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the NRA, suggested that NRA supporters were going to need to bring their guns as protection against liberals. This heightened rhetoric comes dangerously close to criminal incitement.
For many on the right, the need to keep Trump and the conservatives in power has become something of a holy war. In Fundamentalist Christian circles, this is not just an election, but the outbreak of spiritual warfare.
What is apparent on both sides is that any talk of issues has taken a back seat. The only issue that seems to matter right now is that the other side must be stopped from winning. Whatever the outcome, it is almost certain that bipartisan support will not be on the agenda for some time to come.