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Donald Trump’s law and order acceptance speech didn’t feature any actual crime policies

Just one totally vacuous sentence.

Donald Trump devoted all of one sentence to his solution for what he cited as the biggest problem facing the nation in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination:

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

That’s it.

For a candidate who just delivered an entire high-profile speech on the supposedly sky-high crime rates in the US, he doesn’t seem to have very many ideas about fixing them.

The "law and order" candidate has no crime policy

Trump did say, over and over again, that he is a law and order candidate.

  • When he’s president, "we will also be a country of law and order."
  • He said "there can be no prosperity without law and order."
  • Trump promised that "when I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country."
  • And finally, in case the messaging was too subtle for you: "In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate."

I’m actually quite interested, since as Trump noted in his speech the murder rate has risen recently in Washington, DC, where I live. I’d love some good ideas to bring it down. Trump doesn’t have any.

On the economy and foreign policy, Trump at least has a handful of terrible ideas. On crime, he has none whatsoever. He sort of vaguely implies that Black Lives Matter protests are causing crime, but even if that’s true, Trump isn’t (I hope) going to eliminate the First Amendment, so he can’t stop people from criticizing the police if they want to.

In fact, Trump himself threw out a rather serious charge of police corruption, accusing James Comey and the FBI of having concocted a cover story of harsh words "just used to save [Hillary Clinton] from facing justice for her terrible, terrible crimes."

Why Trump has no plan on crime

The reason Trump doesn’t have a policy agenda on reducing crime is no mystery.

He’s been running for president for more than a year, and crime has never been part of his program. He and his campaign manager just ginned it up over the past couple of weeks as an opportunistic reaction to the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. There’s nothing all that unusual about campaigns pivoting to new issues rapidly. But when a normal campaign decides it wants to talk about an issue, it has the team put together some policy ideas.

Usually there’s a PDF, a short-form summary, and then some bullet points that can be referenced in speeches or television ads or picked up by surrogates.

But to do that, you need a candidate who’s willing to put in the work. He needs to build a campaign team. He needs to consult with experts. He needs to decide what he thinks.

Trump can’t be bothered.

Trump is too lazy to be president

Law and order is Trump’s signature theme. Crime is out of control. And here, again, is his plan in its entirety:

I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job done.

An easy excuse for Trump would be to say that he doesn’t have anything more substantive to say because crime control is overwhelmingly a state and local matter in the United States. That’s true, but it’s also inadequate.

In the past, the federal government has provided funding for states and cities to hire more police officers and could do so again. The federal government could act to reduce the supply of handguns in America. It could finance lead abatement programs to curb crime in the long run. It could fund grants to help spur innovative new approaches to using penal resources and better policing strategies. It even turns out that the federal alcohol tax has a substantial impact on crime rates.

The reason Trump doesn’t have anything to say about any of this is that he’s too lazy to look into it and come up with anything. And that’s why even his one lame idea — hire the best people and work with them — can’t be counted on. The president really does have to do a lot of hiring of people and a lot of managing of the interagency and intergovernmental process, and, like a lot of presidential stuff, it can all get a little tedious.

Trump can’t be bothered. And it’s frightening. Much more frightening than anything happening recently with the crime rate.


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