Why simple answers to complicated problems is the biggest challenge (and biggest irony) of presidential contests.
Well, we’re in the thick of it. As we count down the days left till November 8th – by our count it’s 48 – we’ll be giving a daily thought on the state of the 2016 elections. If you want us to talk about a certain topic or issue for this feature, leave it in the comments section at this post or email it to us at contact[AT]thepostturtle.com, with “50 Days, 50 Thoughts” as the title. In this installment, we’ll be talking about how we elect leaders of the free world without ever really discussing the complicated issues head-on.
Last night Sean Hannity held an “African-American” Town Hall and while not the most diverse, Donald Trump was the main speaker. At the event he broke down his answer to how he would handle the turbulent relationship between the police and communities of color.
Aside from the obvious fact that “stop-and-frisk” is unconstitutional, it doesn’t really solve the problem that exists between police and communities of color. If anything, Trump’s plan could potentially make it worse by increasing police profiling of young black men. Yet this simple answer to a complicated social question is expected from a Republican candidate like Trump. As the “law-and-order” candidate, it’s expected that Trump would side with police unions and other groups that would support this strategy. However just to say this response is “Donald Trump being Donald Trump” would be glossing over an innate characteristic of presidential elections.
Here, take Hillary Clinton’s response to the recent Terence Crutcher incident. As you see, it wasn’t much better.
Granted when it comes to police shootings, Clinton talks about the issues more broadly. Yet while she continues to view building trust between police and people of color as the utmost priority in solving the police crisis, it never goes any deeper than that. As a politician that harks on specifics, on this very important matter, she has been surprisingly vague. Everyone agrees that community policing is part of the answer to solve this problem, but in stump speeches, Clinton never goes into specifics.
That’s a problem.
At its core anecdotes, statistics, and DOJ investigations have proven that an individual’s race determines that person’s police interaction. For Terence Crutcher, it meant death. Even though both Trump and Clinton have very different views on the problem, in a presidential race those differences are less prominent because candidates are trying to spread the widest net possible. That means appeasing in speeches to multiple groups.
However, the real problem lies that there are legitimate differences to Clinton and Trump when it comes from the “law-and-order” issue. For example, during President Obama’s tenure in office, the Department of Justice aggressively investigated incidences of racial prejudice in police departments. Trump has said in smaller stump speeches, that he would end that practice. He’s claimed multiple times that the federal government shouldn’t dictate what state and local communities do. Whereas Clinton would continue with the process that President Obama has started, even promising that $1 billion in her first budget would go towards officer retraining and community outreach in hopes of improving the epidemic. Yet in stump speeches, they tend not to accentuate the differences in hopes of not alienating voters.
The relationship between the police and communities of color is a difficult and complicated problem. The nature of a presidential campaigns is not to tackle these kind of issues, even though both Clinton and Trump are running for a position that would let them institute major changes. The irony here being to attack these problems head-on would alienate voters. So the answer for most politicians, is to only talk about it in broad strokes, thus leaving people who really want to talk about these complicated issues with one question.
We guess that’s just how presidential campaigns go…
(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com, Google Images)