Somebody should remind him why he won in the first place.
The recent bout of mass shootings that took place in El Paso, Texas and Daytona, Ohio have further illuminated the depths of Donald Trump’s disloyalty to his own constituency. In the aftermath of the two mass shootings Trump addressed the public and called for increased tech censorship as well as the implementation of a nationwide red flag gun law, an interesting strategy for a president who won a majority vote with gun owners in 49/50 states.
Red flag gun laws can vary depending on what county and state you’re in, but the general idea is to give family members and close acquaintances the ability to petition a judge to temporarily remove the firearms from a person that they deem a potential risk. In some states, such laws are already enacted. For example, succeeding the Parkland shooting on February 18th of 2018, Florida almost immediately implemented red flag laws. A seemingly sensible decision considering the shooter in this instance had displayed a concerning social media presence prior to the event, filled with hate and anger and even the all-out declaration that he was “going to be a professional school shooter,” left as a comment on a YouTube video. It would be nice if red flag laws were in effect prior to this event so the authorities would have some indication that he was a threat and intervene beforehand, right? Unfortunately, the FBI was warned about the shooter’s alarming internet presence beforehand, including by the owner of the Youtube channel on which he professed his school shooting aspirations. They did nothing about it.
The issue wasn’t the lack of a law, it was the fatal negligence by the US authorities to make any attempt to intervene. The installation of this law was a knee-jerk reaction to an event that could have been prevented without slippery slope legislation that may have profound effects on the first, second and fifth amendments to the US Constitution.
In the increasingly delicate direction US culture is headed, giving power to a sensitive populous to determine who might qualify as a “potential risk” is a proposition laden with possible false accusations. Free speech is the first and most important constitutional right in the US, and given the propensity of Americans to feel threatened online in the “snowflake culture” of the past decade, it isn’t difficult to imagine how this red flag system of reporting will be abused. Once you are reported, you have little recourse. The judge will either grant or deny the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) against you. If it is granted, the discretion goes to the police to decide how soon action is necessary for public safety regarding you and your firearms. They may show up on your doorstep immediately with a warrant that you won’t be made aware of until they are knocking on your door. Giving citizens the ability to make a subjective arbitration on “potential risk” that could lead to giving police the discretion to take your weapons and interrogate you without due process sounds quite a bit more like a dystopian communist landscape then the United States of America.
Additionally, his mention of “tech censorship” was bizarre. Considering he tweeted in March that he would be “looking into” the overwhelmingly conservative censorship of posts and users on social media and even promoted the hashtag “#stopthebias,” it stands to reason that Trump is aware of who the bulk of internet censorship is being aimed at, and would not be so quick to suggest more of it. More tech censorship means more infringement on the freedom of ideas and free speech that America was built on, but especially regarding right leaning ideas and speech. If Trump acts on this plan to catch potential mass shooters, he will be giving more power to the left leaning social media giants to censor his own base. He utilized the internet very adeptly in the 2016 elections, to turn his back on it now would be a grave error.
Despite his “promises made, promises kept” 2020 campaign slogan, Trump’s inconsistency towards his own voting base far outweighs his adherence to conservativism. Before expanding on this point, it is important to understand how close the 2016 election really was.
As most people know Trump lost the popular vote by almost four million votes. He won the electoral college in what may appear to be a landslide (306 to 232), but scraped by victories in three major battleground states by a combined total of 80,000 votes. In Michigan he only won by about 11,000 votes, in Pennsylvania by almost 47,000 and in Wisconsin by a little over 22,000. Those three states and the combined 80,000 people who swung them represent 46 electoral votes that, taken from Trump and given to Clinton, would have changed the outcome of the election.
The caveat in all of this is that we still don’t know who the Democratic nominee will be, or even know for certain that Trump will campaign for re-election in 2020. Also, worth noting is that his campaign strategy was brilliant, and he was acutely aware of how close the battleground states mentioned above would be. He didn’t win those states by accident, regardless of how close they were. That said, given how narrow his victory really was, his constant capitulations to the media and leftist demands make it seem as if he doesn’t want to be re-elected at all.
The Trump campaign spurred voter excitement by accentuating three specific issues. Building the wall, “draining the swamp,” and stopping pointless foreign interventions.
His most prominent stance, the one that really got him elected, was his hard-nosed stance on immigration. “Build the wall” was the motor behind his campaign, and with a Republican controlled House and Senate at the time of his inauguration, he promised to get started immediately and finish at record speed and low cost. Where is the wall? The answer is slippery. Both Trump and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been tight-lipped about this question. Until recently every figure we were given was unclear on whether it was referring to the shiny new Trump™ wall, or renovations of fencing that was already there before he was elected.
A recent report indicates that not a single mile of new wall has been built and a little more than 60 miles of existing fence have been renovated. Considering the border is 2,000 miles long and almost all of the previously existing fencing needs to be upgraded, this is effectively nothing. Meanwhile illegal immigration from the southern border is as bad as it has ever been. By the end of July 2019 the border patrol had apprehended 760,000 people trying to illegally cross the southern border this year alone. After being apprehended they are submitted into the asinine “catch and release” program which means that once apprehended illegal immigrants are detained for a night then released into the US and told to show up for court in a month to face an immigration judge and have a deportation trial. Take a wild guess at how many of them show up for this trial. It should be called the “Welcome to America” program.
Keep in mind these figures don’t account for illegal immigrants that aren’t caught. Nobody has an accurate idea how many illegal immigrants are making it in without repercussion. Earlier this year a federal judge blocked attempts to have an additional question added to the 2020 census survey, the question being “are you a US citizen?” Thus, we may never even have even a rough idea of how many illegal immigrants are in the country, with estimates ranging from 15-30 million. At the rate they are flooding the border during Trumps presidency, I am inclined to believe the second number is more accurate.
Trump declared the southern border crisis a national emergency and threatened to tighten up birthright citizenship laws but has done very little since. It is difficult to tell if he even wants to win in 2020 given his inaction in the face of an “emergency.” If he does want to win, this would be a good first reminder.
The second issue “draining the swamp” was first used politically by Ronald Reagan regarding the fight against special interests, lobbyists and corruption in Washington. With Trump, a candidate without much prior experience in politics, it had the additional meaning of getting some fresh faces with fresh ideas into the country’s capital. The tired and tenured politics of the usual suspects were on the chopping block according to Trump. Unfortunately, the DC swamp is as murky as ever. Lobbying and special interest groups surged in 2017 and 2018 and Trump’s administration currently includes 79 former lobbyists with 20 working in the President’s executive office.
In his ethics reform speech, which received a tremendous amount of praise from his base, he promised a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress. This would have eliminated almost half of Congress and truly drained the swamp. No such luck.
In the same speech he called for a ban on members of Congress and federal employees lobbying within five years after their term, a tighter rule about what constitutes a lobbyist vs. a consultant, and a ban on senior government officials lobbying for foreign governments. None of this has been done, in fact, it’s all as bad as ever.
In instances where he hasn’t hired career D.C. politicians, he often resorts to nepotistic practices. It seems every photo released of Trump meeting with heads of foreign governments includes his underqualified daughter Ivanka. Her husband, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is said to have a role that “has ballooned into something so vast it could eclipse other portfolios in the Trump administration.”
The 38-year-old senior adviser to the President with no diplomatic, military or foreign-policy experience was tasked with drafting the 620 page immigration plan that Trump would like to enact by 2020. His role as a peace envoy in the Middle East and top adviser on relations with Canada, China and Mexico is ever expanding. This sort of role for somebody so young with no experience in governance is an unprecedented move. What little of the swamp Trump drained he filled in with puzzling displays of nepotism.
The final of the three major campaign promises that won Trump the election and rallied his voters was his insistence that he would scale back foreign intervention. On the campaign trail he constantly lambasted former President George W. Bush for dragging the US into the Iraq War unnecessarily. Since stepping into office, he has a failed coup in Venezuela under his belt, a broken relationship with Iran that teeters on the edge of conflict every other week, vetoed a bipartisan resolution that would’ve stopped American involvement in Yemen and recently scrapped an effort to cut $4 billion in unnecessary foreign aid “fat.” To his credit, he did pull US troops out of Syria after unilaterally proclaiming that “ISIS is defeated” to the raised eyebrow of the rest of the world.
The complete capitulation on these three promises, the slogans of his campaign, will be an easy thing for Democrats to attack on the 2020 debate stage. Trump faithfuls point to things like tax cuts in order to defend the President’s “promises made, promises kept” mantra, but every single Republican candidate promises tax cuts. Promising tax cuts are not why Trump won, he won because he was promising things no other candidate was promising and has completely alienated the people who voted for him only because of those brash promises. Again, the margin of victory by which Trump won is so negligible that even had he kept his promises much of this election will be contingent on who the Democrats nominate. 80,000 votes is nothing, that’s a medium sized football stadium and these days even his beloved Fox News polls have Trump losing to four of the top Democratic candidates in a head to head match up.
The Democrats have taken a backwards approach in their criticisms of Trump. They’ve spent the last three years pointing at what he has done to put “America first,” there isn’t much there. This election is there’s to lose if they simply point out to his voters all that he hasn’t.
By Eric Alexiev