Donald Trump is not the first “law and order” president.
Richard Nixon claimed to be in 1968.
So did presidential candidate and segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.
Nixon was, as history documents, one of the least lawful, if not the most unlawful, president in modern history.
Nearing the end of his first (and hopefully last) term, Donald Trump seems to be competing for that title.
Three presidents top the criminal indictment list–all Republicans.
During Ronald Reagan’s two terms, 26.
But Trump–not even finished with his first term–leads with 215.
Here are some of the most noteworthy:
- Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates.
- Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone (who, appropriately, also advised Nixon).
- Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen.
- Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
- Campaign adviser, then foreign policy adviser, Michael Flynn.
- And most recently, former campaign manager Steven Bannon.
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had zero.
So the “law and order” slogan is just that–a slogan.
The question is, will it work with the same voters who propelled Trump into the White House four years ago?
According to Pew Research, voters rank the economy, healthcare, Supreme Court appointments, and the coronavirus ahead of “violent crime.”
Marquette University political science professor Julia Azari told the Guardian:
“It’s one thing to use symbolic rhetoric to scare people. But it’s another thing to make ‘law and order’ your argument, and then count on that being enough to de-legitimize the claims being made by people who are engaging in peaceful protests.”
Last month, Trump tapped into slogan at the Republican National Convention when he warned America, “No one will be safe in Biden’s America.”
Yet, regarding the mostly peaceful protests gripping many American cities over the police shootings of unarmed African Americas, Democratic nominee Joe Biden asked rhetorically in a speech last month:
“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?”
“[Trump] looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline. Having failed to protect this nation from the virus, that has killed more than 180,000 Americans so far, Trump posts an all-caps tweet screaming ‘LAW AND ORDER’ to save his campaign. One of his closest political advisers in the White House doesn’t even bother to speak in code, she just comes out and she says it, quote ‘The more chaos and violence, the better it is for Trump’s reelection.’ [Trump is] trying to scare America.”
In his promise, “When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order in our country,” Trump is admitting there is a need to restore order after being the one responsible for stoking the racial, political, and white supremacist violence he claims will subsume the country if Biden wins.
It’s as if he’s a fresh candidate running against a feckless incumbent.
Except he is the feckless incumbent.