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Trump and the Politics of Paranoia

Gage Skidmore via flickr

When it comes to politics, fear works. Just ask any political operative who has gone negative to push his or her candidate to victory.  Irrational fear - paranoia - works even better as a campaigning tool if the historical time is right, as it seems to be in this Presidential election cycle. 

Donald Trump's remarkable surge to the head of the Republican field is built on exploiting peoples' outsized fears about Mexican immigrants, Islamic terrorists, the Chinese stealing American jobs and the Iran nuclear deal, to name just a few. But Trump is not the first person to make political hay by playing on the suspicions of a significant section of American society. As the U.S. Presidential campaign gets underway for real with the Iowa caucuses, longtime radio documentarian and essayist Michael Goldfarb provides a history of the long, long tradition of paranoia in U.S. politics.

This was produced for the BBC.

Find more of Michael Goldfarb’s work on Soundcloud.