The “freedom from fear” is one of the hallmark tenets of modern American democracy. Yet as we enter 2019, far too many Americans are living with fear in their minds and their hearts.
“Fear” as a concept of political discussion began in earnest with President Franklin Roosevelt, who spoke extensively about fear in many of his speeches. In his 1933 inauguration speech, for example, he spoke of the only thing Americans needing to fear as being “fear itself.”
In that context, Roosevelt was talking about economic worries, addressing concerns that the effects of the Great Depression would become the new normal for millions of Americans. But it wasn’t the only way in which he took on fear.
Eleven months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor (and 78 years ago this January 6), FDR expanded on the subject by declaring that every man, woman, and child across the globe deserved to live in freedom “from” it. Roosevelt spoke, during his State of the Union address in 1941, about the fears that were encapsulating the world at that time — namely, a second world war that was creeping ever-so-closer to the United States.
The fear at that moment was of armaments, of nations building up their weaponry to the extent that their use would become the primary force driving the world’s interests. A freedom from fear, Roosevelt surmised, would mean “a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.”
That fear continued to exist long after Roosevelt’s death in 1945, and attempts to quell it persisted, with his wife Eleanor picking up the mantle, enshrining the “freedom from fear” as a basic human right in the United Nations charter following World War II.
Presently, Americans (and citizens of the world) still grapple with the effects of fear on a daily basis. While it exists in many fashions, sadly, one of the forms of fear we grapple with daily originates from our own president, Donald Trump.
We live with a commander-in-chief who at one point frightened the world into believing nuclear war was with North Korea was a real possibility, and then some time later decided he was going to become best friends with their leader.
We live with a president who fundamentally questions the need for a free press, who has threatened to remove Constitutional protections for that industry in this country, and who sides with nations that kill their own journalists who dare to report on the truth.
And we live with an administration, being run by this president, that seems to be comfortable with separating immigrant children from their parents, imprisoning them while doing so, and finding roundabout excuses that shifts the blame elsewhere when these children die in their custody.
These are just three items that have caused millions of Americans, this writer included among them, to have experienced anxiety and shock when they were read about in articles and headlines over the past two years. A plethora of more examples related to the president’s temperament, rhetoric, and wrong-headed policy initiatives abound that have caused similar feelings of angst and dread among the general populace.
America cannot carry on in this way, tolerating the bigotry, lies, and dangerous actions of this president.
The best thing that could happen in 2019 would for Trump to resign the office of the presidency. That won’t happen on its own, however — so we must all resolve in the New Year to push for this idea, to hammer every political leader that represents us in Congress to decide which side of the issue they stand on, and demand that they, too, call for Trump’s resignation.
Two years of this president are two years too many. Let’s do what we can to ensure the next year will be Trump’s last as commander-in-chief. We’ve lived with this fear, induced by his brand of “leadership,” for long enough.