Politics & Policy

The Trump-Proof Convention Message

Jamiel Shaw speaks about the murder of his son by an illegal immigrant, July 18, 2016. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Ordinary Americans who suffered the consequences of bad policies take the stage.

Yes, Donald Trump is a flawed messenger for the case against Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t make the message any less true or compelling. The decision by a lot of big-name Republican lawmakers to skip the Cleveland convention was a blessing in disguise, because it cleared the stage for ordinary Americans who suffered the cruel, random, and deadly consequences of the Obama administration’s policies.

The speeches from the non-politicians on Monday night weren’t always professionally polished or slick. During these presentations, the high-level media risers to the right of the stage seethed with exasperated sighs, gasps of disbelief, and eye-rolling groans. But the speakers told Americans stories they needed to hear — and while Monday’s effort to force a vote on the rule shows Republican delegates aren’t fully unified on the qualities of Donald Trump, the roaring arena showed they are united in fury at the thought of Hillary Clinton continuing the misrule from the Oval Office.

Some Americans might ask, “Why rehash the Fast and Furious scandal?” — and most other Americans won’t even remember the details of the wrongdoing. But Fast and Furious was an early, important example of the Obama administration’s culture of unaccountability.

If a Republican administration had allowed known gun traffickers to make “straw purchases” — legal purchases of firearms in significant quantities to be resold to criminals on the other side of the border — and let more than 2,000 firearms flow into the hands of the cartels, the national outrage from both Democrats and the media would be explosive. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent Brian Terry was shot to death with one of those weapons.

The Department of Justice’s inspector general found that everyone around Attorney General Eric Holder seemed to know about the gun-running scheme but, conveniently, no one told him about the program or its risks. Moreover, no one at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was ever fired for their actions relating to Fast and Furious.

The GOP convention featured Terry’s siblings, Kelly Terry-Willis and Kent Terry, speaking from the Arizona–Mexico border — a border that most Americans want secured, but that seems to only intermittently catch the administration’s attention.

“Instead of celebrating the holidays with him, we buried him not far from the family home,” Kent Terry said. “Two weapons recovered at the scene were traced to the Obama administration’s doomed ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-tracking operation. Guns were used against Americans, on American soil, and yet no one in the Obama administration was ever held accountable for its failure.”

“The best way to honor him is to honor his fellow Border Patrol officers,” Kelly Terry-Willis said. “Obama’s failed policies are leaving Border Patrol agents thinly-equipped and not able to do their jobs effectively.”

No matter how hyperbolic Trump’s rhetoric about illegal immigrants is, it is an indisputable fact that some illegal immigrants are violent criminals and some are drunk drivers. Illegal immigrants may not be more prone to commit violent crimes than the general population, but it is legitimately infuriating to hear about violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants who are briefly detained by police authorities and then released, or even worse, effectively protected by “sanctuary cities.”

#share#Jamiel Shaw, an African American from Los Angeles, described how his son was killed by an illegal immigrant who was released from jail just one day before the murder, after a conviction that could have made him eligible for deportation.

“For two weeks local politicians supported us, and every black politician in L.A. did too,” Shaw said. “Two weeks after that, everything changed. We learned that the killer was an illegal-alien gangbanger from Mexico, released from jail with a deportation hold, three gun charges, and an assault and battery on a police officer [charge]. And the politicians disappeared.”

The more a political figure wants amnesty or an easy path to citizenship, the less they want to discuss crimes committed by illegal immigrants. According to the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 2014 releases included individuals accounting for 86 homicide convictions, 186 kidnapping convictions, 373 sexual-assault convictions, 449 commercialized sexual offenses, 1,194 battery convictions, 1,346 domestic-violence convictions, and 13,636 convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The stage featured two separate addresses from parents of children killed by illegal-immigrant drunk drivers: Mary Ann Mendoza, who lost her son, Brandon, and Sabine Durden, who also lost her son Dominic. They painted an anarchic portrait of America’s roads.

“My son was taken from me by a man who was three times the legal limit drunk, was high on meth, and who drove for over 35 miles the wrong way on four different freeways,” Mendoza said.

State and federal highway-safety officials do not classify vehicular deaths by the perpetrator’s immigration status, leaving it to impassioned citizens to collect the reports. But the number appears to be significant:

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which obtains state-by-state data from the federal government Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database — found that 20 percent of fatal crashes involved an unlicensed driver. From 2010–2014, there was an average of 32,887 road deaths per year, which would mean 6,577 were caused by unlicensed drivers. Those drivers include citizens with suspended or revoked licenses, and those who never had licenses.

Even if only a quarter of that figure represents illegal immigrants, that means about 1,600 Americans each year are being killed by drivers who don’t belong on the roads or in the country.

Finally, there was Benghazi, a topic now certain to generate eye rolls among Democrats and a quasi-religious insistence from Clinton defenders that multiple congressional committees have found no wrongdoing on her part.

But Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, declared from the convention stage, “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.” Even if one disputes Hillary Clinton’s personal responsibility, there’s a reason the administration wanted to move on from Benghazi as quickly as possible.

#related#The 2011 Libyan intervention didn’t work. It turned the bad situation of Qaddafi’s rule into a worse situation: a failed state and largely lawless haven for terrorists. Ambassador Chris Stevens’s requests for more security were ultimately ignored — if not by Clinton herself, then by her staff. The Obama administration was blindsided on September 11, of all days, and then couldn’t mobilize anything resembling a sufficient response in time. As the attack was going on, Clinton issued the statement, “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet” — referring to the infamous YouTube video. But in a personal e-mail to her daughter Chelsea that night, Clinton attributes the attack to “an al Qaeda-like group.” Clinton did not publicly call Benghazi a terror attack until September 21.

Time and again, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their allies prefer to turn away and ignore the ugly consequences when their policies go wrong. They hope that if they act like it’s not a big deal, the public will follow their lead. Donald Trump and his team have made a cavalcade of bad decisions this campaign season, but turning the spotlight on the ordinary Americans suffering those consequences was one of their best.

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