If you are a politician seeking power, and everything is going well, there isn’t any urgency to pass laws beyond those needed for the general maintenance of the status quo, because everything is awesome. You need an enemy or problem to rail against, to be the target of you legislation. You need a boogieman to scare people into supporting you. But what?
You want something that cannot fight back. If you demonize a group they will object.
You want something BIG, because sane people won’t get very worked up about the trivial.
Really big. So big that everyone must be involved, and any dissenters can be easily demonized.
You want something distant in time. You can’t use something that can be disproven next week, or even within the next few election cycles. It’s got to be an ongoing chronic thing hanging out in your children’s and grandchildren’s future.
…but not too distant. Immediate action must be demanded by the hugeness of the problem, not something that can be dealt with mañana.
Far reaching. It must impact every aspect of life, which in turn calls for regulating every aspect of life.
Have many possible parts to the potential solutions. If any one part of the “solution” appears to work it can never be enough, but if some other part doesn’t, it can be used as a call for more spending, more laws, more actions, more something. There isn’t any one magic bullet because the problem is so huge, but many parts that might help some, but they are individually so small that nothing can be proven one way or another. There is always another reason to demand more research, more knowledge, more data, and a reason to demand “doing something” in the meantime “just in case.”
Not an actual threat. If you don’t get everything you demand, no sweat: everything is still going to be OK. But you can always demonize others for failing to do enough, while excusing your own continued high-living lifestyle.
Sound like anything you’ve heard of before?
Yes, global warming, the perfect boogieman.