Obama Debunks Trump’s Politics Of Fear

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar ThinkProgress

President Obama devoted part of his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to debunking the fearful brand of politics Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is selling to the American people.

“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix,” Obama said. “It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.”

Illegal immigration and crime are two centerpieces of Trump’s campaign. Trump has asserted both are are worsening problems in the country, routinely saying things like, “A nation without borders is no nation at all” and “Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse.”

But the data and research provides no support for either notion. Studies show immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Furthermore, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country actually peaked in 2007 and has remained relatively flat for the last half-decade.

Serious crime in the United States has been falling even longer than that. From 1993 through 2012, the country’s violent crime rate was nearly cut in half, and last year the U.S. murder rate hit a 33-year low as the number of serious crimes committed nationwide fell for the eighth year consecutively. In October, the Congressional Research Service published a paper entitled “Is Violent Crime in the United States Increasing?” The study notes that despite media coverage that would lead you to believe crime is rising in American cities, “homicide and violent crime rates have been trending downward for more than two decades, and both rates are at historic lows.”

Beyond debunking two central planks of Trump's platform, Obama presented a more hopeful vision of America. In his peroration, he said, "This year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me –- to reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation."

Trump, meanwhile, continued to dwell on the negative while Obama spoke:

Aaron Rupar comes to ThinkProgress from Minnesota, where he was established as a staff writer for the Minneapolis City Pages covering everything from crime to state politics to cultural news and back again. He also worked as a digital producer for the Twin Cities Fox TV affiliate and as a communications staffer for the Democratic caucus in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Outside the newsroom, Aaron enjoys NBA basketball (particularly the Minnesota Timberwolves) and all sorts of live music. He's an accomplished jazz and rock n' roll drummer who's looking to network with musicians in DC, so if you know of a playing opportunity or news tip, please drop him a line. Aaron has a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota.

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