Throughout his campaign to become the next president of the United States, Donald Trump insisted that crime rates in the country were indeed skyrocketing. Painting a picture of a crime-ridden nation and vowing to fix it was no doubt part of Trump’s strategy to win the election. He spoke of how criminal activity and street crime, in particular, has stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
To further explain his point, Trump brought up violent crime and murder rates, which focuses on a one-year uptick but ignores the long-term trend. Data from the FBI demonstrated that overall violent crimes in the U.S. increased by almost four percent from 2014 to 2015, and murder and nonnegligent manslaughter went up by 10.8 percent. While the number went up in that one year, crime rates in America are still considerably lower than they have been in several years. Even criminology and statistics experts can’t discern a trend from such a small snapshot in time, basically saying that “the average person in an urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years.”
But Donald Trump basically used that one year to make his case, which is ridiculous because he is actually inheriting a country with a lower crime rate than the one Barack Obama took command of in 2009. Even nonviolent “property” crimes continued to decrease in the first half of 2016. Statistics show that in 2015, Americans were 23 percent less likely to be a victim of burglary, auto theft, or other property crimes than they were in 2008. And the number of property crimes only went decreased further in the first six months of last year.
As with many other issues, Trump, like many politicians often do, spoke very broadly and very generally without going into much detail or giving specific facts when it came to crime. After being elected, Donald Trump even repeatedly made a false claim that the murder rate in the United States was the highest it has been in 47 years. That is a statement that one can only believe was made to attract attention and convince people that he was the right man for the job, to “Make America Great Again!”
In addition to talk of crime and the crime rate in the United States, Trump also spoke quite a bit about jobs and unemployment. He blamed “other countries” for “destroying our jobs,” and he promised that he would bring those jobs back. And, once more, Trump did not even bother to name which countries were to blame or even say how he would go about bringing back those jobs. Interestingly enough, though, the economy has added over 2 million jobs in the most recent 12 months and has gained for 75 consecutive months.
Some might make the same argument about this as they have about the crime rate; that this is simply a recent uptick and not a long-term trend. That might be true, but the argument I would make is that the crime rate is going down partly due to the unemployment rate also going down. One thing that can easily result from rampant unemployment is more frequent criminal activity resulting from the desperation those in that type of situation might feel to get their life turned around quickly. The urgency they feel to get back on their feet can often be channeled in the wrong direction and cause a person to do something he or she wouldn’t normally do. So, to me, the two issues are somewhat linked.
And very much like the relatively low crime rate, the lower than usual unemployment rate has this country currently in much better shape than when Barack Obama inherited it. When he took office in 2009, the country had already lost nearly four and a half million jobs in the preceding 12 months.
So, making the claims that he did about the job market seems to be Trump’s way of building himself up as some kind of savior for the country, a country that isn’t doing quite as poorly as he has indicated. The unemployment rate is well below the historical norm, yet Trump continues to insist that he’s right and that the statistics that have been presented are phony. He seems convinced the country is in big trouble and that he needs to take certain measures to make it prosperous again. Ignoring what appear to be obvious facts, though, is not the right way to go about convincing the American people that you know what you’re talking about.
[Featured Image by Sarah Rice/Getty Images]