Agree or disagree with this essay from The New Republic but please read it. It's a bit of a slow start but fascinating and not terribly long.
Here's how TNR describes it:
John B. Judis's eye-opening cover story draws on a wealth of psychological research, showing how voters are susceptible to politicians who can manipulate their fear of death. Obviously, we all want leaders who can defend us, but only recently have social scientists begun to understand how a fear of our own mortality guides many of our political choices without our ever realizing it--and how politicians like George W. Bush can, and have, tapped it to further their own policies.