“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”–Yoda
Quoting fiction and popular fiction at that is not necessarily the most high brow way to diagnose a problem, but occasionally it fits. I have been interested in the concept of issue framing ever since I read a book by Thom Hartmann called Cracking the Code. Admittedly, his book didn’t address this absolutely on the nose, but he danced around it plenty.
Parental politics is simply the name I’ve given it, but the concept is clearly not mine and unlike certain ex presidents, I refuse to take credit for things that came decades before me. Parental politics refers to which stereotypical parent dominates our political point of view. Daddies tend to worry about certain issues and mommies tend to worry about certain issues. If you can cause people to worry about the daddy issues you get them to vote conservative. If you can get them to worry more about the mommy issues then they tend to vote more liberal.
Obviously, this assumes certain gender roles and it assumes personality archetypes that are likely outdated. Of course, that by itself is a hot button issue. So, I will simply highlight the subtle difference between the word fear and the word worry. They sound the same, but they are just different enough to make all the difference.
I worry about having a roof over my head. I worry about whether I can feed my family. I worry about what might happen if I lose my job or suddenly get sick again. If I don’t worry about those things then I worry about those around me. What happens to people that don’t have a warm bed at night or a hot meal at the end of the day. Worrying and being afraid can sound similar, but they aren’t the same.
People who fear, fear the other. They fear black people coming into their neighborhood and ruining their way of life. They fear people south of the border from coming up and stealing their job. They fear those same people bringing drugs that will enslave their children. They fear terrorists that don’t look like them bombing their kids schools, a shopping mall, or some other public building.
They fear transgender kids coming into their bathroom or putting on a dress and joining their daughter’s basketball team. They fear teachers indoctrinating their children with silly notions about racism or inclusion. They may even fear that all of this will spread to their children and they may be turned gay. As Yoda said, fear leads to hate. Everyone worries. It’s what makes us human. Some of us hate and that is much worse.
Daddy is the protector. At least that’s the moving stereotype. He protects us from intruders. He protects us from those that would do us harm. He protects us from those we would hate. So, if you can get people to fear and you can get them to hate then you can get them to vote conservative. So, the active game for conservatives is two-fold. First, you convince people that there is something to fear. Then, you convince them that you alone can protect them from it.
That’s why we promise to build walls. That’s why we promise to protect our children from predators in the bathroom. That’s why we blow up the issue of human trafficking. That’s why we demagogue immigrants, people of color, and members of the LGTBQ+ community. If there were nothing to fear then there would be nothing to hate. If there was nothing to fear or hate then we wouldn’t need excessive protection.
Moms care. Obviously not all moms care, but if we are to giving into stereotypes then they do. Moms worry. Moms nurture us. Moms take care of us. So, therefore moms care about the government programs that do those things. They care about how we do in school. They care about our health. They care that we are eating right and taking good care of ourselves. If we give into the stereotypes than they also care more about the people around us. They realize that we are only as good and as safe as the people around us allow us to be.
If the whole idea of the moms and dads alludes you then simply think of the difference between worrying and being fearful. What are we worried about? What are we afraid of? If we focus on our worries we tend to be more progressive. If we focus on what we are afraid of we tend to be more conservative. Remember, fear leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Yoda taught us that one.