Wide open country. Land, lots of land. Freedom.
These are key pieces of the mythos of America - space, freedom and of course the will to defend them at all costs.
Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, seeing a chance to conflate Ebola with illegal immigration, wanted to know if sealing America's southern border would help.
Out on the hustings, Republicans, and, increasingly, Democrats in close races are suggesting more or less the same thing. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, wants the government to suspend the issuance of visas in the Ebola-affected African countries.
I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat - those are labels that don't perfectly reflect reality. It's the same with the Blue/Red/Orange spectrum here in Canada - a focus on what differentiates the parties neglects the blatant similarities, plus the tendency for positions to shift, pendulum-like, all the time - even within parties.
Here's the deal. Getting elected is about getting attention. Fear gets people's attention. All parties present themselves as the centurion at the gate, the only one who can keep that which we fear at bay - whether it's terrorists, or oil companies, or diseases. Not so much natural disasters; even office-seekers know better than to go there.
Fear is a reactive emotion that draws all energy into a narrow wedge of perception. When you're afraid, or angry - flight or fight - what matters is what's in front of you. There's no time to waste on anything else.
This is where the use of the term "hungry" for success comes in; people who are "hungry" feel a base need that shuts out all else - the hungry will hunt and kill because they have to, and isn't that how winning is done?
Is winning about beating the other guy, about destroying the competition? Do you need to act fast, be aggressive to win - if you only get to eat what you kill? In the absence of actual hunger, how do we manufacture it to pressure action?
Why, fear and anger, of course.
We are hardwired to fear that which is threatening, to close ourselves off from it. We are hardwired to respond aggressively to that which makes us angry, generally with quick, visceral actions.
Fear is a prison. Anger is a prison. Worse, it's a prison with porous walls; we can't get out, but infection can seep in. We end up trapped.
Ebola is a disease; it doesn't recognize borders, nor walls. You can't fence it out. Terrorism isn't a disease, it's a symptom - you can't isolate and cure it without recognizing what the broader illness is.
I get the short-term ROI of pushing the fear button and why it's an awful temptation to would-be leaders in the US, in Canada and beyond. I can only encourage them to resist the temptation and consider the longer-term ramifications.
There is no End of Days - time marches on, the world evolves. That which evolves, survives. That which tries to remain unchanging in a changing world becomes at best, a fungus, like North Korea, or at worst, extinct.
Don't fence us in, for if we cannot move, we cannot grow.