Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Making America Safe Again

Checking in at the Republican Convention, we note that the first night was mostly about crime and urban disorder. "The enemy is here," said one of last night's speakers. Rudy Giuliani was in full thunder and damnation mode, shouting, "There is no next election! This is it!"

If crime is such a problem, surely the Trump campaign has some ideas about what to do about it? But no. So far as I can tell, Trump has advanced exactly one crime-fighting measure, which is jailing Hillary Clinton.

Otherwise it's just tough-guy posturing and more rants about political correctness. Various spokesmen have suggested that Trump is modeling his campaign on Richard Nixon's in 1968, which capitalized on middle class disgust with dirty hippies, violent protests, race riots, and rising crime. But if you take a quick look at the chart above, you see that Nixon's tough-guy posturing had no effect on the violent crime rate, which kept on rising all through his time in office and on down to the early 1980s, when it started to fall. It really started falling in the 90s and it fell right through the great recession all the way to 2014, although it may have ticked back up last year. Many experts think one of the biggest drivers of both the rise and fall of the crime rate was lead poisoning, and while Hillary has (of course) a detailed, multi-part plan for fighting lead poisoning and other toxic threats, Trump has never mentioned it and I wouldn't be surprised if he has never even heard of this theory. Nor has Trump called in any serious way for conservative measures to combat crime, such as more police or tougher sentences. The emptiness was summed up best by Giuliani, who said, "Donald Trump will lead by leading."

America obviously has a violence problem. I'll grant Trump that. But just as with the other problems he has called attention to – dying industrial towns, political corruption via campaign finance, terrorism – he has not a clue what to do about it. Tough language is not a policy.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

But is it really all that helpful to think in terms of policy when considering the sorts of voters Trump seeks to sway?

Many people simply don't care about policy, logic, or facts - they vote emotionally, based on how riled up you get them about something they may not even begin to understand.

Just look at the Brexit vote, where millions were whipped into an emotional frenzy fueled in large part by a media campaign of outright lies and twisted misinformation completely devoid of any mention of sane, workable policies. People didn't care about the rationality of the vote - in many cases they didn't even know what they were really voting for - they just knew that certain confident sounding people who claimed to represent them wanted them to get angry and nationalistic and clannish and vote a certain way.

Trump is the real world evolution of the character of Howard Beale in Network - he doesn't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the streets, but he does know that first, you've got to get mad!

And then you need to vote for him, nevermind the details, nevermind what he'll do once in office, don't worry about it! Just get mad - doesn't matter what about, (although he has helpful suggestions). And then take that anger and vote Trump becase of it, and give him the only power he craves which his ill-gotten money can't outright buy.

And people will. Because our society has failed them. Because we've collectively failed to properly educate and motivate people into becoming rational voters and ensuring our democracy operates through enlightened self interest, rather than through destructive mob mentality.