Trump said “law and order” during the debate, because his impression of crime clearly comes from TV
After an intense exchange of remarks between the candidates on their tax plans and, of course, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s mysterious tax returns, Lester Holt steered the debate toward the overarching dialogue around policing and race. Hillary Clinton responded by discussing implicit racial bias and solutions to deescalating situations without the use of force, as well as mental health, gun control, and community policing. Her rival took things in another direction: Trump started out by citing “law and order,” and then delving into an apocalyptic, stereotypical portrayal of communities of color as violent wastelands run by black and Latino delinquents.
“Well first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and those words are law and order,” Trump began, before listing off cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, affected by police brutality protests as mere talking points.
He predictably steered the conversation to a focal point of his campaign: the purported evils of undocumented immigrants who he claims run “gangs roaming the streets, and in many cases, illegally,” an image I do not doubt he retained from literally any mainstream crime show. Trump’s statements additionally highlight a racial double standard in his stances on gun laws, suddenly identifying firearms as dangerous and illegal when in the hands of people of color, despite previously suggesting eliminating gun-free zones and limiting restrictions to purchasing firearms.
He continued: “African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated,” without investigating the socioeconomic drives for this, or the role of a racially biased criminal justice system, or even touching on fatal shootings of African-Americans by police. His comments additionally ignored nonpartisan research revealing that crime in America has actually been on the decline, which, of course, Trump wouldn’t know given how clearly his only sources are TV crime shows.
All in all, audience members at the debate retained about as much from Trump’s discussion of crime and police relations in communities of color as they would from stereotypical images of “dangerous” streets on television dramas.
Trump additionally suggested police were afraid, which relates to his long history of identifying Black Lives Matter as a dangerous, militant movement against police, and defended his recent proposals for stop-and-frisk policing, previously ruled unconstitutional for being racially discriminatory.