In the history of American presidents, they stand as polar opposites: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Donald John Trump, one took comprehensive command, enacting plans and creating structures to pull American out of its greatest economic crisis: The Great Depression, the other went inert, covering up what he knew about our second-greatest public health crisis, while cravenly bowing to pressure to reopen the economy and thereby, making the second-greatest economic crisis of American history even worse.
FDR, faced by shooting war, said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Trump, faced with defeat in an upcoming election has nothing to sell but fear itself – in 2020 he’s pushing suburban fears of urban invaders, another way of saying White fears of Blacks, Latins and other peoples of color. He’s even invented a non-existent Antifa organization to strike fear in American hearts which once were successfully cajoled to cringe at the threat of Anarchists, Communists and “outside agitators” for civil rights.
While Trump’s 2016 campaign followed a “fear them” strategy, with Muslims and Mexicans and immigrants specifically identified as terrorist threats, what gained him his Electoral College majority was likely less fear of others than the loathing of the self-satisfied Clinton-era Democrats.
A good indication of that is that fear failed Trump in 2018, even though he’d spent the whole election year propounding a grave national security crisis at our southern border. Even though, as Election Day approached, so did a seemingly made-for-frightening caravan of thousands of Central Americans, most from Honduras and Guatemala, bent on migration to the United States.
Trump’s attempts to characterize the caravans as cover for middle eastern terrorists and a money-making conspiracy of the drug cartels didn’t seem to convince voters, who returned the House of Representatives to Democratic control and, in general, did better by Democrats than Republicans.
If the caravan had an unstated, if obvious political agenda, it was achieved by the considerable media coverage it attracted. Thousands of poor people were seen testifying with their feet to the terrible poverty and much worse crime, violence and political corruption in the countries they were fleeing. It was, said one respected scholar of the Italian Mafias, the greatest popular demonstration against organized crime he’d ever witnessed.
Although most of the people in the caravans agreed with that assessment of what was pushing them north, for them, the main point was the safety in numbers. Traveling together, they reasoned, especially with “the whole world watching” they might be secure from extortion or worse from the cartels, without having to pay “coyotes” whom they could not afford, for protection. Although many if not most of the caravaners dropped out along the way, went back home or stayed in more hospitable Mexico, thousands followed the pull of America to the border at Tijuana and Hermosillo. And their luck ran out. They’d made it that far, but except for a few, no farther. Many are still stuck in refugee camps from Tijuana to Matamoros.
Nick Quested has built one of the premiere documentary brands in the world, winning two Emmys and getting an Oscar nomination for his work. Nick has served as a producer on over 35 films including Sebastian Junger’s The Last Patrol, Korengal, the PGA and twice Emmy nominated Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, and the Oscar nominated Restrepo. Nick’s credits also include Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, Rubble Kings, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers, Stolen Seas, The List, Tell Spring Not to Come This Year, and Doin’ It In the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC. Prior to focusing his attention on producing, Nick was an award winning director with over 100 music videos and commercials to his credit, working with world renowned artists such as Common, Dr. Dre, Nas, EPMD, Red Man, Guru, Fat Joe, Dru Hill, Mobb Deep, P. Diddy, Master P, Three 6 Mafia, Lil’ Romeo, Trick Daddy, Trina, Carl Thomas, T.I., Brandy, Ray J and Shaq, and with brands such as Sprite, And1, Nike, Lexus and Land Rover.