Donald Trump’s newfound interest in reaching out to African-American voters is off to a bumpy start, but last night in Akron, Ohio, he expanded his message a bit.
Hoping to make the case that the status quo is untenable, the Republican presidential candidate insisted that current crime levels have reached a level “nobody’s seen.” Trump added, “You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities.”
But, Trump said moments later, if he’s elected, all of these concerns will simply go away. From the transcript pulled together by CBS News’ Sopan Deb:
“I will straighten it out. I’ll bring jobs back. We’ll bring spirit back. We’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot. Look at the statistics.”
This echoes the themes and fears the Republican nominee emphasized during his convention speech last month, but if one takes the candidate’s advice and “look at the statistics,” it becomes clear that Trump has no idea what he’s talking about.
The Huffington Post recently published a piece that noted that Americans “are currently living in one of the safest periods in history.”
Even as the American population has continued to expand, there were fewer violent crimes committed in 2014 than there were in any year in the past several decades. (While preliminary FBI statistics show a slight increase in the violent crime rates in the first six months of 2015 compared to the first six months of 2014, the crime rates in the 30 largest cities stayed flat in 2015, according to a Brennan Center analysis. Even if the final numbers for 2015 show a slight increase from the historically low crime rates of 2014, they will not remotely approach the rates seen a decade ago, which are around 30 percent higher than they are today.)
I’m reminded of an exchange, aired one month ago today, between CNN’s Jake Tapper and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “Empirically, according to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper said. “How can Republicans make the argument that, somehow, it’s more dangerous today, when the facts don’t back that up?”
Manafort responded by questioning the reliability of the FBI.
A month later, Trump is still preying on public anxieties and misconceptions, hoping to ride a wave of irrational fear to the White House.