Every politician knows that fear wins elections. Just how deep into Orwellian territory we are became clear at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday. A man I loath and distrust, who happens hold high office sent out a national presidential alert to cell phones everywhere. After being awakened at odd hours a time or two over my cell phone owning years, I’d turned off my smart phone alerts. I wasn’t out driving to spot amber alert situations in the middle of the night. If there’s a severe thunderstorm coming, I’m already awake. The idea that if everyone with a phone is on the lookout we’ll all be safe seems a bogus one to me. There is, however, no way to turn off a presidential alert. Like most Americans I was working when my phone went off. I wasn’t afraid. Just annoyed.
Random scary sounds are among the most frightening things people experience. I recently started writing in the attic (if you read this blog regularly you won’t even ask why). As I was writing this post a gust of wind blew and it sounded like the roof might collapse upon me. Sudden load sounds make us look for comfort in a strong person. On a national scale that means, God help us, politicians. When my phone alert goes off, it’s telling me to vote for the party in power. There’s psychology afoot here. This was no accidental coincidence. Midterm elections are just weeks away.
I know something about fear. Not only do I write about horror films, I grew up with so many childhood phobias that my mother wondered how I would ever get along. Those phobias may have gone underground when I became an adult, but they never truly left me. I don’t encounter them on a daily basis, but I can draw on them for my fiction. I don’t, however, appreciate my government using them against me. Perhaps this sounds paranoid. If paranoid it’s by design. Even if 45 can’t see beyond his own proboscis, those on his team know the fear factor works. Winston will come to love big brother. Fear robs rationality. We’re mere primates, after all. Was it coincidence that there was what appeared to be an impromptu Trump rally later that afternoon? There is a difference between paranoia and naiveté. We’re a wired nation and the Republican Party has the phone number of each and every one of us. If this is not a drill, you know where to find me.