Both have elephants as their symbols. Both belong to the right of the center. Both believe in the logic of private capital and profit.

Both rely on the use of violence/force as instrument of policy.  But one other outstanding trait that stands out between the Republican Party of the US and NPP in Ghana is the habitual use of fear to win or maintain power.

The coincidences between these two parties are very remarkable, although they are from two different continents far away from each other and separated by the gigantic Atlantic Ocean.

The on-going national debate on the Guantanamo detainees is just one of the several scaremongering tactics the NPP or the UP tradition has been using in the pursuit of political power since the tradition was born in the 1950s. They are stuck to the long-held notion that,‘fear leads to anger and anger leads to hate’.

From the United Party (UP), to the Progress Party (PP) up to the NPP, the right of center in the Ghanaian politics has used either fear-mongering or violence or both to annex and retain power.

The NPP and the Republican Party in the US have always used fear or scaremongering to win elections. Political debates suddenly turn into apocalyptic conversations terrifying the general public in a very bizarre manner just for political point-scoring and electoral successes.

The NPP and its tradition in both the 1950s and the 1990s tried and succeeded in portraying both President Nkrumah and President Rawlings as bloodthirsty dictators who would not hesitate to kill their own citizens for political reasons. While Nkrumah was labeled a constitutional dictator, Rawlings was depicted as a psychopath capable of committing mass murder against his own people.

Consequently, Ghanaians were inundated with exaggerated stories of disappearances and unexplained death during his 19 year reign. This was a calculated political strategy to just create ‘fear of Rawlings’ and get Ghanaians to hate him. There was no wonder his party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the 2000 elections to the NPP. 

Again, in the run up to the same 2000 elections in Ghana, there were widespread scare tactics of killings/dumping dead bodies of women in the country in order to make the ruling party unpopular. The NPP promised to stop the phenomenon when they win. After winning the elections, true to the words of the NPP and their leaders, the killing/dumping of the dead bodies ceased abruptly.The fear-mongering had also ceased.

Fear tactics works because it appeals to our basic animal instinct to stay safe, and it makes the simplest, inane and most downright evil solutions sound smart. The simplest example is the recent diatribe against Muslims by the Republican Presidential aspirant Donald Trump calling on the US to debar all Muslims from entering America until there is a solution to terrorism. He forgets that Americans are killed on daily basis by many diseases and infections than terrorism can ever do.

The simple explanation for the use of fear as an instrument of propaganda by these two parties is that they don't have any real alternative solutions to the numerous social and economic problems that bedevil their countriesforgetting that the strategy is awful for democracy itself because it keeps us from having an honest conversation about the things that are really hurting our country and our people.

Currently, in the US, it is either the fear of Muslims, the fear of the government taking away the people's guns, or the fear of Black men who could harm other Americans, especially the whites. The Republican radicals just as their counterparts here in Ghana in the NPP, have simply understood that fear works to motivate their white base and secure electoral advantage.

Issues about health care, education and other social infrastructure are on the backburner while fear of violence or mass murder is used to hoodwink the unsuspecting voters into supporting certain views.

If you follow the 2016 election debate in both Ghana and the US you would realize that both the Republican Party and the NPP are totally and completely committed to scaring the crap out of people on this Guantanamo Bay issue just to get elected so they can have access to public resources and power for their own purposes.

History tells us anytime people feel scared or insecure; they'll do pretty much anything to feel safe including voting out the government of the day. In the run up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 the belligerent Bush administration used scare tactics against Saddam’s regime linking him to the event of 9/11 and the purported threat his weapons of mass destruction cause to the security of America and that of its allies and interests.

While fully prepared for the war,the then US Secretary of State, Collin Powell addressed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) making strong case against Saddam’s regime and alleging that“it took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward, as they are supposed to, with the information about these kinds of capabilities?

Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulinum toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry biological agents in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. And dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.” However, after the invasion of Iraq and the vigorous inspections led by the Americans, not a single evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was found in Iraq.

Again, in the US election of 2004, the vestiges of 9/11 terrorist threat was used by the Republican Party to scare the Americans and get President Bush re-elected. The much-maligned, color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System is the easiest example.President George W. Bush established the Homeland Security Advisory System by presidential directive on March 11, 2002, just a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The five levels — green for low, blue for guarded, yellow for elevated, orange for high and red for severe — were intended to identify the risk of terrorist attack. There had been widespread allegations that the Bush administration officials were influencing which color to display especially when the 2004 elections were getting nearer.

"The old color coded system taught Americans to be scared, not prepared," said ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi. "Each and every time the threat level was raised, very rarely did the public know the reason, how to proceed, or for how long to be on alert. I have raised concerns for years about the effectiveness of the system and have cited the need for improvements and transparency. Many in Congress felt the system was being used as a political scare tactic — raising and lowering the threat levels when it best suited the Bush administration."

The tactics of fear-mongering did not however work for the Republican Party in 2008 with the evolution of the charismatic Barack Obama for the Democratic Party. The Republicans had done everything under the Sun to portray Obama as unfit to lead America because of hisfocus on the power of diplomacy and the use of America’s soft power and multilateralism in solving global problems rather the use of force or violence embedded in the so-called ‘pre-emptive attack doctrine’ propounded by Republican radicals and warmongers like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

While Obama’s main contender, John McCain and his Republican Party were scaring the American public on various foreign policy issues such as those on relations with Iran, Cuba, North Korea, China and others, Obama won the admirations of the American people and those of the international community by openly declaring that he would even go a step further to speak directly with the leaders of all these countries in order to resolve his country’s differences with them.

True to his word, President Obama has led America to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after almost half a century of enmity. The thorny Iranian nuclear issue has also been resolved and Iran is being welcome back from international isolation. President Obama just some few days ago confirmed to the whole world that he has been directly talking to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani on how to expand Iranian-American relations.

Again, while he is moving at full throttle to close the dreaded Guantanamo Bay detention camp as he promised during the 2008 election campaign, the Republicans are using fear to galvanize the American public against it and to gain partisan political advantage.

Back here in Ghana, the scare mongering seems to be working well for the NPP given the recent terrorist attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso. Their presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addoopportunistically took advantage of the groundswell of national discontent against the acceptance of the two Yemeni ex-detainees of Guantanamo Bay to attack the Mahama administration siding with his party that accepting the detainees poses risks to the security of the Ghanaian state. The NPP is expected to use this Guantanamo issue as one of their main campaign messages for the elections of 2016.

In 2004 election in Ghana, similar scare tactics of fictitious mercenary invasion was cooked by the NPP and its agents and fed to the unsuspecting Ghanaian voters and that greatly influenced the voting in their favor. Again, similar episode happened in 2008 albeit unsuccessful. Ghanaians were fed with some deceptive ‘hit list’ by the NPP when it was becoming clear to them that they were losing the elections to the late Prof Mills. This ‘list’ contains names of prominent Ghanaians the Prof Mills government intended to assassinate if he comes to power.

Terrorism or extremism in all its forms and shape is despicable act. Killing one innocent person in any form is unacceptable in any tradition and in any religion. While we condemn acts of terrorism by non-state actors such as Al-Qeada, ISIS, AQIM and whatever, there is the need to condemn state actions that breedterrorism. For instance, the formation of various Arab and Islamic armed groups in Afghanistan by the US and its allies in the 1980s to fight the Soviets led to the formation of Al-Qeada. Again, the unjust invasion of Iraq and the on-going deliberatedestabilization of Syria by the US and its Arab allies also led to the formation of ISIS. Further, AQIM got its strong root after the toppling of Colonel Gaddafi by a coalition led by US and France.

It must be noted that radical Republicans and right-wing extremists in America always want to project the power of US through the use of force and mass murder of innocent people across the world. There is therefore the tendency to create enemies,real or imaginary, to keep the American military machine always busy. This gives those radical Republican elites the opportunity to profit by selling arms and seizing reconstruction contracts. These same radicals in the US turn back and use the same armed groups their policies have created and scare the unsuspecting American people into voting for their presidential candidates. 

Tags: