The Incredible Power of Fear: Trump Tapped into a Vein That Took Him to the White House

Across the country, Democrats are still struggling to figure out why Donald Trump won and continue to point fingers at each other. But a major motivating factor in this election has been creeping up on America for decades. 

"You have to understand the incredible power of fear in American politics," Carlos Maza, research fellow at Media Matters, pointed out in his latest post-election segment.

"If you want to know what fear looks like for a lot of Republican voters, you have to look at what's been happening in right-wing media over the past few years," Maza continued. 

And liberals don't even have to leave home to better understand the phenomenon. 

"While most progressives have been rolling their eyes at Fox and Friends and Glenn Beck, conservative activists have built a major media empire," he pointed out. "I'm not just talking about Fox News, I mean dozens of local and national radio shows and websites all competing for the same audience, older white Republican voters."

Likewise, it's not just fake news by Russians and Macedonians that's ramping up sensationalism. It's these offshoots, too. 

"When you're a right-wing media outlet and you want people to pay attention, what do you do?" Maza asked. "You scare the shit out of them." 

Remember how Donald Trump began his campaign? 

"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists," Trump said about Mexican immigrants in his very first campaign speech. But that wasn't the only shocking thing he said in the speech.

"The American dream is dead," Trump proclaimed. But he would revive it, he assured America. 

For voters listening to pundits speak for years about the "crisis on our southern border," a "major crime wave," the "death spiral," "government gone wild," and a "war on Christianity," this was music to their ears. 

"[As a right-wing media outlet], you tell [your audience] that illegal immigrants are pouring into the country, that black thugs are rioting in the streets, that refugees are actually terrorists sneaking across our borders, that the president is secretly a Muslim who hates America... you make them believe that their own government doesn't care about them and most importantly you teach them to stop trusting other sources of information," Maza explained. 

But while the growth of extremist outlets is fairly new, the strategy isn't. 

"It's how scam artists and cult leaders work," Maza noted. "[They] convince [their] audience that the rest of the world is out to get them."



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