ROBINSON: Let your fear lead you to the ballot box

President Franklin Roosevelt, along with Orville Wright, during a visit to Wright Field on Oct. 12, 1940. FDR's motorcade went downtown to Courthouse Square where he addressed a crowd estimated at 100,000.
President Franklin Roosevelt, along with Orville Wright, during a visit to Wright Field on Oct. 12, 1940. FDR's motorcade went downtown to Courthouse Square where he addressed a crowd estimated at 100,000.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

NOTE: This column by Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Oct. 11.

Months after besting President Herbert Hoover in 1932′s landslide election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt uttered one of the most memorable lines in American history at the first of his four inaugural addresses:

“... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

It is so famous that I am betting you heard FDR’s voice in your head when you read those words.

Plenty of fear was going around in 1933 as it is today.

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The nation was deep in the Great Depression and FDR was telling people that freaking out and hoarding money was making things worse.

Amelia Robinson
Amelia Robinson

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

His full sentence reflects that.

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, yeah we know about those.

Economists will tell you that fear is bad for the economy and they are of course right. But fear ain’t all bad.

FDR’s point fit his time and the situation the country faced, but it is not universally true. Fear doesn’t always make things worse.

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Fear can hold us back, but it can also push us forward and save our lives. You don’t touch an open flame out of fear your hand will end up burned.

You hold little Shawn’s hand while walking down the street out of fear that he or she will run out into traffic.

Stopping to put gas in your tank when the empty light comes on out of fear you will run out of gas.

The fear pushes you to take action to protect yourself.

This is a scary season and not just talking about the ghouls and goblins that will come out for Halloween. This election is far worse than anything that could be hiding under the bed.

It has been downright gnarly.https://www.daytondailynews.com/elections/

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My husband, a political junkie who has studied our commanders in chief since he was a kid, says one of the nastiest elections before now was when President John Quincy Adams took on rival Andrew Jackson for a second time in 1828.

Jackson’s side started a rumor that when he was an ambassador, Adams pimped his children’s nanny to the Russian czar as royal mistress.

Adams' side went even lower, calling Jackson’s mom a “common prostitute” whose seven children were fathered by a “mulatto man.”

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They called his wife fat, a “dirty black wench,” a convicted adulteress and an “American jezebel.”

Jackson blamed Adams and his friends when Rachel Jackson died from a suspected heart attack months before he took office.

The Hoover and Roosevelt election was a walk in the park in comparison. The same cannot be same about Biden vs. Trump.

Today we face “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror,” but the fear that has come with a pandemic and this current election season is not the only thing to fear.

Inaction is.

These are frightening times, but we are not powerless in this election. We can’t afford to hide under our blankets until Christmas.

Not touching an open flame is a decision led by fear.

Holding little Shawn’s hand is a decision led by fear.

Filling your tank is a decision led to by fear.

Take control of the fear when you cast your vote.

Amelia Robinson is the Dayton Daily News’ community impact editor. Have a letter to the editor or an idea for a guest column, contact her at Arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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