It should be noted that appealing to fear is nothing new or especially partisan. The Obama administration’s has long argued that, if Americans didn’t subscribe to its prescriptions, an economic collapse was imminent; if we didn’t vote for Democrats, that women would once again be second-class citizens; and if we didn’t support Obamacare, even those of you who could somehow traverse our crumbling infrastructure and reach a doctor would soon be dying in the streets without medical insurance. This is politics.
But if “nothing matters if we aren’t safe” from foreign threats, does that mean that all other things are less important until we feel safe? This seems like an unhealthy message in a free society. And how safe is safe enough before that fundamental need stops trumping all others. We’re never going to be completely safe from terrorism or from bad cops or from genetically modified foods. There are a host of legitimate risks that have to be dealt with, one being the reemergence of radical Islam, but lots of other things are fundamentally important to Americans. Anyway, we have a bad record of conducting policy driven by fear. Often it means unending projects that empower those in charge to do whatever they like whenever they like and push policies that make us less free but not all that much safer.