Border security is really the only plank of his platform. His economic agenda is to enforce border security and somehow bring back jobs that were shipped overseas a decade ago. His solution to stopping crime is to deport undocumented immigrants and beef up border security, stopping the flow of illegal drugs. His foreign policy is “extreme vetting,” which is his euphemism for what was once the Muslim ban. Trump’s core message to the American people is that, if you are tough at the border, all of your problems will go away.
In the past few days, Trump has hit this point hard, releasing a statement saying that his “extreme vetting” proposal would stop attacks like the one in New York on Saturday. At a Monday afternoon rally in Florida, Trump argued that “we need extreme screening” to stop bombs from going off in American cities. (Obedient puppy Sean Hannity made a similar argument on his radio show on Monday.) And over the last several months, Trump has argued that allowing Syrian refugees into the country—people who are fleeing ISIS—would only lead to terror attacks.
This is a very silly argument. The attackers in New York and Minnesota—along with, while we’re at it, the attackers in San Bernardino and Orlando—were all either born in America or were children when they entered the country. Asking a seven-year-old Ahmed Rahami if he believed in instituting sharia would have done nothing to stop a pressure cooker bomb going off in Chelsea on Saturday. “Extreme vetting” is not a policy—it’s tough talk that would do nothing to stop terrorism, while reducing America’s standing in the world and further alienating Muslims who are already here.
The problem, however, is that Trump’s empty posturing is having an effect. This morning, Hillary Clinton also called for “tough vetting of immigrants and a better visa system,” neither of which would have stopped any of the terror attacks that have taken place in America in the last year. I get it—you can’t stand up after a terror attack and say “our vetting is doing fine.” But suggesting that these things could have stopped these attacks is pandering at best.