GORHAM — The Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has garnered furious attention among candidates for president of both political parties. During campaign stops and television appearances, ISIS is portrayed as an omnipotent bogeyman that is ready to spread its brand of hate and violence into America’s hometowns.

Most often ISIS is portrayed as an “existential” threat to American citizens, American culture and even to America’s very existence as a nation. This assertion is potentially as dangerous as it is wrong.

To be clear, ISIS is certainly capable of directing and/or inspiring attacks like the ones that occurred recently in Paris and San Bernardino. Each day that passes without such an attack should be counted as a blessing. But do the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino portend an existential threat from ISIS? Quite simply: No.

The fact is, the Islamic State is neither an existential threat to the United States, nor a truly viable alternative to rule even a small portion of the Middle East. The ISIS ideology of violence, fear and subjugation is a failed one. The wars of the 20th century discredited the rulers and systems that relied on fear and intimidation to govern. While the ISIS ideology undoubtedly inspires disaffected young men (and more increasingly women) to carry out unspeakable and seemingly unimaginable horrors on their neighbors, it fails to offer a viable alternative for governance and fails in its ability to inspire even a minority of its own cohort to action or acceptance.

The rise of the Islamic State, at its core, represents a conflict for power. That conflict for power is not between the West and Islam, as most espouse, but instead represents a conflict between the remnant of the world’s monarchs and dictators and the populations they seek to subjugate.

It is not a coincidence that the Islamic State’s base of support (like al-Qaida’s before it) is rooted in the part of the world where large segments of the population, if not the majority of the population, is left out of the political process. A distorted view of Islam provides a powerful ideology for the disaffected, but this distorted view is no more representative of true Islam than the views of white extremists in the United States accurately reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Categorizing ISIS as an existential threat is a dangerous distraction. It would cause our country to commit resources of blood and treasure in an attempt to eliminate a problem that, at its root, is neither caused by nor is able to be solved by the United States.

Our recent history of military interventions should give us pause before pursuing such a course. ISIS’ leaders and military capabilities should certainly be targeted by U.S. power, but the better course is to target them in conjunction with the efforts of our regional allies as they engage ISIS on the ground.

Most importantly, there are other problems more exigent than ISIS that demand our attention.

The irrevocably expanding national debt and entitlement programs; the dangers associated with committing to another decade of military intervention without a clear strategic objective; the squandering of an opportunity to reset our nation’s infrastructure and military and to recapitalize our natural resources; the loss of American values promoting individual liberties, self-reliance, hard work, acceptance and fairness; the reluctance of young men and women to willingly raise their hands to support and defend their nation through service – all represent a more existential threat than ISIS.

Our nation has a rare opportunity to reset policies and priorities far more important to our long-term prosperity, security and vitality than the threat posed by ISIS.

We must seize this opportunity to reset so that when a truly existential threat does emerge, we are prepared to respond from a position of solvency, strength and unity, instead of from a position of fear. Which is why I will not fear ISIS and neither should you.