Politics today is often described as being driven by “populism,” “tribalism,” “nativism” and “bitter divisiveness.” But what is really driving politics, both in the United States and abroad, is fear. Fear of the future and fear of the unknown are possibly more dominant now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. In the United States, a majority of Americans face daunting financial and economic tribulations from the soaring costs of healthcare, education, and saving for retirement, further reasons to be fearful. An astounding percentage of Americans may not have a “spare” $400 to spend in the event a crisis or mishap occurs. Many Americans are working two jobs to make ends meet.Societies are also measured by the growing gaps between the “rich” and “poor”, and “elites” and “others.” In China, this has led to the so-called “princelings” or children and grandchildren of the elite who lead protected and insulated lives. In Russia, these are the “oligarchs.” And in the West, it is the “1%.” These gaps are likewise fostering resentment. In turn, fear, amplified by resentment, has manifested into anger against those, largely in the Washington “Swamp” and corporate America, who are held responsible for accumulating huge wealth at the expense of the so-called average person. And anger has metastasised into outrage. Outrage is not limited to economic well-being or status.Despite presidential behaviour that often defies description and the frequent absence of truth and fact from many of his pronouncements and Tweets, Mr Trump has kept his political base and even increased his ratingsOutrage is expressed over gun violence in which the increase in school shootings is one tragic indicator of this escalation. Protestors are outraged at legislators who fail to pass sensible gun laws and of course the NRA or evil incarnate. The Second Amendment proponents show outrage at those who would restrict what they believe is the unfettered right to bear and carry arms, rejecting the Founding Fathers’ view that this was permitted in terms of “A well-regulated militia.” The #MeToo movement reflects outrage at continued sexual harassment and abuse mainly of women by men in power. The fall of many, from Harvey Weinstein to Charley Rose, over allegations of sexual misconduct reflects the results of this outrage.Outrage is not limited to these shores. Most Americans and every member of Congress are outraged over Russian interference in US elections and the annexation of Crimea. Outrage is also expressed against Iran labelled as the leading state sponsor of terrorism forgetting that Wahhabism has had a far more powerful influence on terror. And outrage over North Korean atrocities against its citizens and foreigners wrongfully retained has been tempered by the forthcoming June 12th summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jung Un, assuming that this summit takes place.Indeed, outrage describes one reason for the ascent of Donald Trump to the presidency and the increase in his approval ratings. Mr Trump was the perfect candidate for the perfect political storm. He also ran against perhaps the only Democrat he could have defeated.Despite presidential behaviour that often defies description and the frequent absence of truth and fact from many of his pronouncements and Tweets, Mr Trump has kept his political base and even increased his ratings. His unconventional approach to the presidency, while creating gaffes and potentially self-destructive actions, appeals to this sense of American outrage. In simplest terms, to many, nothing could be worse than the current system. Hence, while President Trump may do considerable harm to the nation, to many, he can do no wrong and is therefore, tolerated and even supported.Republicans in Congress likewise are motivated by fear. Fear of losing the majority in the most divisive Congress possibly since the Civil War is palpable. Hence, while members may find supporting the president distasteful or otherwise unacceptable, fear of losing the majority or of being singled out in a negative presidential tweet has stymied any real dissent from the ranks. And make no mistake: Republicans believe that losing the majority will ensure the president is impeached by a Democratic Congress.Meanwhile, the Democrats have no antidote to taming this outrage or turning fear in to advantage. At this point, predicting which party prevails in November is impossible. And even grimmer is predicting what can be done to eliminate the fear Americans maintain about the future and the resulting outrage.But the party or politician that understands and is able to mobilise this outrage to advantage to make America a “kinder, gentler place,” will surely emerge to lead the nation.The writer has served on the Senior Advisory Group for Supreme Allied Commander Europe (2004-2016) and is currently Senior Advisor at Washington DC’s Atlantic Council. His latest book is Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts. He tweets @harlankullmanPublished in Daily Times, June 10th 2018.