Flight 93 and Fear-mongering

On the one hand, it’s surprising how many people — including evangelicals and conservative NeverTrumpers — fail to recognize that Democrats engage in the same sort of Flight 93-ism and fear-mongering that Trump and Republicans are accused of. (And before one thinks to dismiss this as whataboutism or both-sides-ism, see here for why you’re probably confused on what’s wrong and not wrong with whataboutism.)

Here’s Joe Biden, just two days ago:

Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West. Floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest. Hurricanes are imperling suburban life along our coast. If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned? And wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more America ablaze? If you have a climate denier for more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?

I could add countless other examples here from Democrats — including Joe Biden. Ironically, Scientific American engaged in its own form of fear-mongering over four more years of Trump in article originally titled “From Fear to Hope”! But this sort of language game of accusing your opponent of negativity as you engage in negativity is also pervasive.

On the other hand, it’s understandable why it’s easy to overlook Flight-93-ism and fear-mongering when it’s coming from our own side. We believe our opponent’s policies really are disastrous and our fears are legitimate. In this sense, it’s a natural outcome of different values. A Democrat will likely listen to Joe Biden’s words or read the Scientific American article and think “All this is true and it’s reasonable to be afraid of that.” Of course, the Republican thinks the same thing when they hear their own politicians talk about Biden being a sock-puppet for a Kamala Harris administration. Oops! But we also think that the concerns of our political opponent are false. That’s why it’s easy to think “My opponent is guilty of fear mongering, while I’m just trying to set out a hopeful message.”

What’s particularly offensive about the Biden quote though is that it was made in the middle of attempting to rhetorically posture Democrats as the party of science. Even from within that political ideology, Biden and Democrats should know better than to engage in rhetoric of America being ablaze because of Trump’s climate beliefs. After all, one would think the party of science is sufficiently aware of the scale involved in climate science to know that America being ablaze because of four more years of Trump isn’t in the realm of serious possibility.

Throwing half-baked ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks.