The Founders were terrified of tyranny. The Federalist Papers name-checks one tyrannical cautionary tale after another, from the “tyranny of Macedonian garrisons” to the “elective despotism” of the Venetian republic.
I fear snakes and sharks and the possibility of falling out of an airplane. These are all healthy fears. Fear is dangerous when it serves as a substitute for thinking. (I still swim in the ocean and travel on airplanes.) But fear can be very useful when it informs our thinking, when it focuses the mind on potential dangers ahead.
Today (as under Reagan and others), the tables have turned, and the roles have been reversed. It’s far better to cultivate mutual understanding of each other’s fears than try to smooth away the fear of tyranny with the grease of apathy.