The Donald Trump Show (Confiscate the Guns)

Donald Trump: "I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do." (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters, 2016)

“When Trump recently told African-American communities, ‘What do you have to lose?’ he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.”

Steve Benen

Or, more specifically:

At a Fox News event this week, Donald Trump seemed to endorse taking “stop-and-frisk” policies to a national level to address urban crime. “I would do stop-and-frisk,” the Republican said. “I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically.”

Of course, what Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that stop-and-frisk didn’t work “incredibly well” at all, and when challenged in the courts, the policy was ruled unconstitutional.

When Trump recently told African-American communities, “What do you have to lose?” he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.

Nor is the punch line the whole of it. The msnbc producer continues:

Trump, who’s never demonstrated any real understanding of criminal-justice policy, apparently likes the idea of police being able to stop-and-frisk Americans―including those who’ve done nothing wrong and have been accused of no crimes―effectively at the discretion of individual officers. If the police find a gun, under Trump’s vision, it will be taken away.

In other words, the NRA’s favorite presidential candidate―the Republican who’s benefiting from millions of dollars in NRA campaign money and claims to be a great champion of the Second Amendment―is on board with a policy in which government officials approach random American pedestrians and confiscate their firearms without due process.

One of the historical curiosities of this cycle will be the degree to which the metrics for comprehending wrongness have broken. There is a simple enough idea for, say, debates, by which a candidate packs enough errors, omissions, distortions, or other incorrect statements into their two minutes that no opponent could ever possibly respond to it all. The underlying purpose is just to keep more balls in play than anyone can track; it’s useful for sympathizers who want to complain that the opponent didn’t cover everything, and encourages future reiteration of the inaccurate statements. The Donald Trump show is a spectacular pageant of wrongness; it is difficult to countenance and comprehend the sum of errors; nor is it easy or even necessarily possible to distinguish between sinister and stupid―that is, to tell the difference ‘twixt Donald Trump lying and simply being not smart enough to know what he’s saying or doing.

To some degree, the amount of confusion he can cause as everyone scrambles to figure out what just happened plays to his benefit. The longer question is whether this effect can be reproduced and how precisely one might manipulate it; that is to say, the difference between Donald Trump being either some manner an evil genius or just plain stupid.

This is an occasion, however, when it’s pretty much clear: In an effort to play to his white supremacist base (sinister), Donald Trump has managed to suggest he would violate the Constitution (ignorance) in order to set the police about coming for the guns (sinister), which ought to be problematic for the National Rifle Association, which, in turn, ought to be stupid, except here again we find a strange variable, which is just how much of a violation of principle conservatives can convince themselves to overlook. Donald Trump has just said he will come for the guns; how many will back him, still, because they believe Hillary Clinton might come for the guns?

Donald Trump is a complete effing moron. The only real question is whether or not that makes any difference to the average American. Okay, okay, that’s not fair. There is also the question of what difference it makes.

And that’s the thing about the Donald Trump Show. Religious designation badges, insane deportation talk, misogyny, race-baiting, supremacist warmongering: Either you’re okay with all this or not, and if you’re willing to put Donald Trump in the White House, we have our answer.

____________________

Image note: Donald Trump: “I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what’s going on here, I see what’s going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do.” (Detail of photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “Donald Trump’s stop-and-frisk policy raises eyebrows”. msnbc. 23 September 2016.

Vitali, Ali. “Trump: ‘Stop and Frisk’ Needed to Stop Violence in Black Communities”. NBC News. 21 September 2016.

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