“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” -Alan Moore
Do not underestimate the stupidity or cruelty of anyone. Governments are made up of people, and people are generally good.
However, people should absolutely fear their government. Government officials have enormous amount of control over wealth, health, security, and so much more. Incompetent or malicious rulers will have a negative effect on your life.
On the other hand, governments should also be afraid of their people mainly because they have the numbers. Collectively, we the people are often fickle and apathetic. In order to maintain power (a politician’s only goal), they must keep us happy or give us the feeling that we are relatively better off with them in power. This fear of losing our support or acceptance of the status quo is often eased by the fact that both wealth and military strength secure their power in the face of public backlash.
Fear is important because it keeps the peoples’ eyes open to government abuse. It should be the goal of all people to make our government representatives fearful of our power, not in a sinister way but a political way.
The best way to instill this beneficial fear in government is to be politically active – vote, attend town halls, call congressmen, threaten recalls, etc. The structure of our representative democracy is built to benefit the people, however variety of factors such as partisanship, gerrymandering, and wealth disparity have set us back.