Mathew Mackie

The only thing left to fear in the US election: fear itself

Approx Reading Time-11As the US faces the results of one of the most divisive elections in history, I say we finally add logic to the sensationalist fear-mongering that has become it.


Over the rattling course of the last twelve months, I’ve dodged opinions from friends and family slung heavily across dinner tables, that “Trump will blow up the world”, “Hillary sells guns”, “Trump has to be assassinated” as the concerned eyes of those who were politically inert prior to the election turn to ask me what I think is going to happen, perhaps in some hope that I have a sentence to make the unreality of this whole process seem less apocalyptic.

But I don’t.

I’ve followed the entirety of the election, from Trump’s searing start in the primaries to the rise and fall of Berniemania; I’ve sat through every debate, poured through graphs dug up from the recesses of the Internet; I’ve endured Fox News coverage and a three-hour handjob WikiLeaks presser. While I’ve done all this, I know as much as everyone else:


But I will say that while the sweating, heaving Frankenstein of this election is a ghoul of its own creation, flicking the switch to bring itself life, but I believe we taught it how to walk. Hyperbole has replaced Bitcoin as the Internet’s preferred currency. And as an Editor of a publication, I absolutely point the finger at myself, for every snarky Tweet, meme or deaf opinion emboldens the monster to further trumple the landscape. Sure Frankie, kick over the mill, doesn’t matter. The whole situation is fucked 

Looking back now, I shake my head. We dropped the bomb on ourselves, but never again. Reformers are killed, but the reform continues. And the leaders we vote in, we vote out.

What is set to unfurl in a few short hours will be historic, and as we know from history, such moments are not always positive.

However, our reaction to this moment is what matters.

You see, whichever way the winds of fate blow, there are going to be those who spit in disgust, those whose own saliva will return to their face, who in turn will be angrier than before. The Hillary supporters will decry the death of the political system; the Trump supporters will decry the life of the same system. However, with the conflicting opinion so cavernous, one side’s automatic dismissal of the other, based on today’s result, is the danger. One could argue that today is not the important day, but the corresponding date in 2020 will be the one that matters, as our reaction would have germinated in a candidate who could best whoever wears the crown today, not by becoming a better version of the candidate who wins, but rather, a magnification of the one who loses.

Who that person might be, depends on us.

Remember, fellow kids, we scoffed at the idea of Kanye ’20, but we doled out the same treatment to Trump ’16.

The true lessons of today lie in the pages of yesterday. History is a cyclical force, and a unifying theme is present: the source of all our mistakes has been fear, for when the lock is chiseled off Pandora’s box, we do foolish things.

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Fear, moves our hearts and limbs for us, where we can sleepwalk our way through the depth of an administration, only eventually meeting morning when the bed has been truly been made. I don’t blame us. Fear is part of who we are, born from an existence where the only assured thing is our end.

To give a modern example, the visceral horror that was 9/11 shook us into that comatose angst. I consider myself a fairly level-headed guy, but even I gave myself to the collective fear. As my neck craned skywards for errant airliners, the only question that was asked in 2001 was “who?”

And when Dubya famously told the West that “you’re either with us, or with the terrorists” I nodded. Looking back now, I shake my head.

That’s the funny thing about fear. Living through it allows you to see what truly lies behind the curtain. It’s like the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, once you get to see the situation for what it is – a small man with a loudspeaker. There’s no mystical force behind it, the Wizard is only as powerful as we make it.

So, before the headlines call for the end, or the darker angels of our nature overcome us, remember the facts of history. We dropped the bomb on ourselves, but never again. Reformers are killed, but the reform continues. And the leaders we vote in, we vote out.

As FDR said: The only thing left to fear, is fear itself.


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