There is a solid policy argument to be made about why President Trump’s focus on “law and order” is misguided or counterproductive. There is a solid policy argument to be made for why this focus on “law and order” will disproportionately harm minorities, as it has over the last few decades. Claiming that President Trump is a racist who sees crime as something done by black and brown people (as Chris Hayes did in the New York Times) is not that argument.
First, the charge of “racism” has lost its meaning in much of the country, especially among conservatives. We have heard it so many times for so long that is is just noise at this point. We have come to expect that conservative leaders will be called racist or at least accused of racist motivations for their policies.
Second, this attack fails because people are tired of being on the defensive. They are tired of being called names and accused of nefarious things because they have a different opinion on public policy. They are tired of seeing people they support attacked for the same reason. The 2016 election was, in part, a rebellion against political correctness. That factor has not gone away and will continue as long as Leftists continue this failed strategy.
Third, it is an intellectually lazy attack. Rather than dealing with the “law and order policies” on their merits, Leftists likes Hayes launch an ad hominem attack. By dismissing Trump as “racist,” his opponents can dismiss anything he does as morally suspect without doing the work of forming coherent arguments against his policies or presenting their own ideas.
So do people like Hayes want to actually convince people, or simply elicit cheers from their own side? If it is the former, the only way to do that is to focus on policy, and why the President’s proposed policies are a bad idea. Use current and historical data on crime trends, including comparing the “law and order” model to less harsh policies favored by leaders in both major political parties.
Instead of crying “racism,” present better alternatives for criminal justice reform. Reach out to Republicans like Rand Paul to form a bipartisan consensus. But as long as “Trump is a racist” is the primary argument, you are not going to bring many Republicans into the fold.