Voters: Beware of scare tactics

Americans are no strangers to the horror film. Most Americans can no longer be genuinely frightened by the images flashed across the screen. However, they can still be scared by something that has not desensitized them – politics.

In a matter of days, the American voting population will make a decision which will undoubtedly have a great impact on the world. However, Americans must make an extra effort to not fall prey to the scare tactics that each side is attempting to use to garner more votes. These tactics are being used especially heavily in battleground states, including Florida.

The voters in these states must try to avoid being duped or have their decisions influenced by the candidates’ final attempts to sway potential voters.

The prominence of using the final weeks of an election to utilize less than noble tactics to win votes is not a new technique for candidates vying for the American policy. Most of the techniques candidates in the past have used capitalize on fears that the American public already has. Some of these fears are marginal, while others are more legitimate for the time period of the election.

Notable instances of using scare tactics include images of a nuclear holocaust and comparing Russia to a dangerous bear. During the cold war, these fears struck directly into the hearts of the American people.

During this election season, which has already seen a more than heavy focus on terrorism, there are strong indications of which issue the candidates will be using to frighten the American people. Unfortunately for the candidates this election year, any scare tactics they attempt to use will have to go deeper than previous elections.

The necessary depth of the scare tactics is largely a consequence of the greater attention and access to information that voters during this election have. The more informed voter makes it difficult but not impossible to scare voters into a corner and believe giving their vote to a certain candidate is the only way their fear will not come into fruition.

However, candidates have begun to show signs they are aware of the informed voters and their inability to scare easily. This awareness has not led the candidates to dig deeper but to grasp desperately at ludicrous statements. Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent implications are a shining example of scare tactics gone awry.

Cheney has implied that if Sen. John Kerry were president, the Soviet Union would still be in existence and a threat to America. What? For most Americans still in touch with reality, the Soviet Union has been a non-issue for over a decade. But Cheney is capitalizing on Americans’ memories of past fears.

Although Cheney may have gone completely extreme with his tactics, voters must be prepared for more outrageous claims. These will range from capitalizing on fears about marriage, war, drugs, weapons of mass destruction and most likely – terrorism.

Americans must stand firm on the knowledge they already have about the candidates’ and the decisions they have made. The power of the vote cannot be allowed to be destroyed by the basis of human instincts – fear. This is one time when intellect must beat out instinct.

Jason E. Hutchins is a senior business administration student from Athens, Ga. He is the opinions editor for The Famuan. Contact him at