Thursday, October 29, 2020

The "Law And Order" Candidate Has No Respect for People Who Obey the Law.

There is one statement of Donald Trump's from the final presidential debate on October 22nd that keeps sticking with me; the topic was immigration:

Trump: Catch and release is a disaster. A murderer would come in, a rapist would come in, a very bad person would come in -- we would take their name, we have to release them into our country. And then you say they come back. Less than 1% of the people come back.
Biden: Not true.
Trump: We have to send ICE out and Border Patrol out to find them. We would say, ‘Come back in two years, three years -- we're going to give you a court case. You did Perry Mason, we're going to give you a court case. When you say they come back, they don't come back, Joe. They never come back. Only the really -- I hate to say this -- but those with the lowest IQ, they might come back.
[from the USA Today debate transcript]

The part about less than 1% showing up for court cases was a lie, of course (the truth is that 83% showed up for all court hearings), but it was that last line about only those with "the lowest IQ" showing up that stuck with me. Trump shows over and over again that he believes only stupid people will voluntarily obey laws.

"Smart people," on the other hand, find ways to bend laws (tax laws, nepotism laws, the Hatch Act, emoluments clauses, charity laws, campaign finance laws, etc., etc.), especially if the main enforcement is the honor system. We saw how well the honor system works with the Trump family when its members were asked to wear masks at the first debate. Once again, just yesterday, Trump found a way to brag that not paying a $287 million dollar debt made him a "smart guy" (although the "smart guy" may ultimately be in trouble with the IRS again for not paying taxes on those forgiven loans as income).

The nadir of his insulting the intelligence of those who voluntarily obey the law (or pay what they owe) came in early September when The Atlantic reported that he called people who died fighting for this country "Losers" and "Suckers." If the "suckers" and "losers" had been "smart guys" like Donald J. Trump, they would have been smart enough to have been born with rich daddies who could pay off crooked podiatrists for phony "bone spurs" diagnoses to keep them out of the armed forces.

This Trumpian attitude toward the law has at least two major downsides. One, obviously, is that the family of grifters -- for whom the only overriding philosophical principle is "WINNING" -- will continue to be looking to grab as much as they can while "pushing the envelope" of legality. The second is that Trump believes everyone else is -- at heart -- as venal as he is; that supposition leads him to believe that the only way to keep other people in line is through the use of -- or the threat of -- overwhelming police use of force. That's how someone with no respect for the law can end up having a strong belief in #LawAndOrder of the most brutal kind.

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