The tyranny of doubt describes a plan or act of people’s nation to begin to destabilize; starting with a seed of doubt that can grow and sow chaos. The tyranny of doubt is a tactic used in psychological warfare, too. People can do it to themselves or outside actors can enact it. It has many names but what is does is make people question their government. It can begin with a simple act or misinformation campaign; something that brings into the question the legitimacy and authority of your betters. In the modern political environment an open debate has emerged between two drastically different world views.

As a result, a doubt of information, its accuracy and where it comes from, has consumed our nation. One side believes the other is not only wrong but dangerous for the nation. Both sides doubt that the other knows what they’re doing.

There’s no doubt Americans are questioning their government. I think any citizen would be hard pressed to not express some doubt in their elected representatives and their political institutions. The doubt isn’t a new phenomenon in politics and human history. Social proof and the idea that group-think overrides individual thought is at work. It is powerful enough to influence our daily decisions. It’s the underlying reason the fake news is such a threat to the public discourse.

Moreover, current and future controversy sows doubt in the country. It creates more division within the nation. That divisive nature affects the U.S. perception globally. As we continue to infight, it could become increasingly difficult to project stable power abroad. It’s a strategic victory for our enemies. Information and psychological operations are intended to weave instability in the fabric of a nation.

Today, we’re creating self-doubt on our own without regard for its global ramifications. But, if looked at from a populist perspective, it’s acceptable. It’s true; the country has looked outward for a long time while we have not tended our garden. As a result, the American electorate has reached an open revolt for politicians that will help, not the rest of the world. But that introspection has a double-edged sword. Just as we lose some liberty for security – we might lose our global place in the world order by looking inward.

Sacrificing some of our statuses is something that should be in the public discourse as we decide what’s important and a priority for us as a nation. It’s not that we’ll cease to be the world’s superpower but, the negotiating table might include some more players. Are we prepared to share the world with other countries, like China? Are we comfortable with the continued destabilization of Ukraine and a possible skirmish in Europe in the future against Russia? These would be detrimental to the world that America has made since taking the mantle of the world’s superpower. However, the most important decision is a decision to choose civility because other countries are questioning our legitimacy as we throw mud at one another.

Featured image courtesy of 1843 Magazine.