Most pundits were in agreement today that Republican nominee Donald Trump went down in flames in Monday night’s debate. Trump, who has no prior political experience and did not — according to his own campaign staff — engage in any debate prep whatsoever, repeatedly stumbled, lied, and interrupted his opponent.
What’s more, on the subject of America’s racial divide, Trump’s solution was a mixture of pro-cop apologia, Nixonian calls for “law and order,” and blatantly racist policing techniques.
This was the exchange between Trump and debate moderator Lester Holt (transcript courtesy of the Washington Post):
Trump: Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s law and order. And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.
And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what’s going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s — I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long — we need law and order in our country.
I just got today the, as you know, the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, we just — just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very — I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States.
We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in he’ll because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.
In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st.Thousands of shootings. And I’m saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over — almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order.
Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it.
We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.
We have to be — we have to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.
Holt: Your two — your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.
Trump: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.
Holt: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.
Trump: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and they are bad people that shouldn’t have them.
These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn’t be — when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.
You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago.
But when you look — and Chicago’s not the only — you go to Ferguson, you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this.
You need better relationships between the communities and the police, because in some cases, it’s not good.
But you look at Dallas, where the relationships were really studied, the relationships were really a beautiful thing, and then five police officers were killed one night very violently. So there’s some bad things going on. Some really bad things.
Holt: Secretary Clinton…
Trump: But we need — Lester, we need law and order. And we need law and order in the inner cities, because the people that are most affected by what’s happening are African-American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.
In other words, Trump’s answer to a question of the problems facing people of color, particularly African-Americans, is to take a stand for the policies that are damaging their communities in the first place.
Trump is relying on the very rhetoric that was used to give birth to the modern white supremacist carceral state — the “law and order” rhetoric of Richard Nixon, himself no stranger to anti-black attitudes and racist policies disguised as efforts to combat crime. He also suggests a revival of the blatantly anti-black stop-and-frisk policy that, contrary to Trump’s belief, was ruled unconstitutional.
Of course I do not believe for an instant that this was a sincere effort to woo black voters, but rather assuage the fears of guilty, white Trump voters who are afraid to look racist by supporting the orange-haired tyrant.