Goldstein: Safety is Not Trump’s Concern

The president’s reforms do not address the dangers that face America.

by Matthew Goldstein | 2/7/17 12:35am

Many contemporary Republicans — and in particular the proto-fascists in President Donald Trump’s administration who label themselves “Republicans” for no reason other than to ingratiate themselves with the current American political system — seem to chart a single-minded course pursuing what they call “national security,” or the safety of America and her citizens, and are now implementing measures ostensibly to that effect. But the safety of Americans, insofar as it means avoiding maiming or death, extends far beyond issues of immigration and terrorism. The administration’s singular focus on this issue belies its rhetoric on national security, because if it were indeed committed to the safety of American people, it would pursue other policies that it has not broached and has even actively suppressed.

Trump’s recent executive order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” does little if anything to “protect [..] the nation,” the by-word Trump’s team has used to defend it, while unjustly categorizing thousands of students, tourists and others as potential “foreign terrorists.” A Cato Institute study found that from 1975 through the end of 2015, 3,024 Americans were killed by foreign-born terrorists. The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 caused almost all — 2,983 — of the deaths in this figure, yet under the tenets of this executive order, not one of the perpetrators — nationals of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon — would have been kept out of the country. Nor would this order have “protect[ed] the nation” from the 2016 Orlando shooting, whose perpetrator was born in New York. Nor the Oklahoma City bombing, whose planners and executors were born and raised in New York and Michigan, nor from the white supremacist killings in Charleston, South Carolina, whose perpetrator came from that same state.

As another matter — entirely separate from the executive order’s utter idiocy and inefficacy — are the more dire threats facing American citizens, threats whose proper mitigation would actually “protect [...] the nation.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,599 people were killed by firearms in the United States in 2014. However, the Trump administration has expressed that typical Republican position, couched in Second Amendment rhetoric, which aims to do nothing about the proliferation of guns in the United States and in fact encourages it. And mental health treatment has undergone no renaissance nor substantive bolstering by those craven politicians who use it as a gun-violence scapegoat. The question must be asked: when the National Rifle Association spends at least $3 million to run ad campaigns in favor of the Republican nominee, can Republicans legitimately qualify their stances on gun reform with the language of American safety?

The immense hypocrisy of those who welcome an immigration shutdown is yet again on display in the treatment of those diseases and maladies that cause more Americans death each year than anything else. In 2014, heart diseases and malignant neoplasms combined to kill over one million Americans, rounding out the top two causes of death in CDC charts. Yet Republicans and Trump both decry and pledge to annihilate the Obamacare protections that make drugs treating these diseases more accessible to those suffering from them. Trump has similarly reneged on a pledge to make drugs more affordable to those who need them, emerging from a meeting with pharmaceutical executives spewing that industry’s empty platitudes as one who had never held that strong a conviction to the contrary might be apt to do. Neither Republicans nor Trump have said anything about the uniquely American practice of allowing drug manufacturers to advertise on television and in other media, thus increasing spending past what is necessary for research and development and transferring those costs to sick Americans in need of medication. But what else, after all, can be expected from an administration whose incredibly suggestible leader has called the National Institutes of Health “terrible?”

There is unfortunately too little space in this column to broach the numerous other threats, including climate change, that present a far more immediate and likely danger to Americans. The dangerous reality is that the party and administration in power have no regard for the actual safety and security of the citizens they serve. Had they any such basic decency, partisanship and loyalty to dollar-sign contributions would not rule their decisions as they do now. We are led by a pack of ravenous hypocrites whose appetite for power far surpasses any ethical compass which would dictate that they actually do the job Americans elected them to do. We are handed down edicts from on high by a self-styled autocracy whose adherents have come to include elected Republicans who can no longer lay legitimate claim to valuing liberty and the pursuit of happiness, let alone life. The behavior from our president and Congress is a sham founded on lies, perpetuated by greed and sold to us on the backs of scare tactics and purposeful obfuscation. It is not to be believed for one moment that those amoral, unprincipled excuses for leaders care about “protecting the nation.” Perhaps if they did, they would do even one ounce of work to further that goal.