Former President Donald Trump has made his fair share of enemies throughout his life, both in business and in politics. His bombastic and exaggerated way of speaking appeals to many Americans, who see him as the “everyman” type of politician, someone different than a career government worker.

Trump Says Outrageous Things

Some of the things that he’s said over the years that he’s been in politics have been truly outrageous. Some have been offensive, such as when he implied that Mexican immigrants are all criminals and rapists, and some have simply been wrong, like when he stated that he’s “done more for African Americans than any president since Lincoln.”

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Many of Trump’s supporters, and even those who don’t support him with their vote, have said that Trump only says what he knows will make headlines. The goal is not to speak the truth, but to get a rise out of the media and to keep himself in the national spotlight at any cost.

Words Have Meaning

While this might be true, the fact remains that the words that political candidates speak have meaning. Whether or not Trump means many of the things that he says is irrelevant, given the fact that his supporters take everything that he says very seriously, and run with it.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

This tendency can explain the pattern of heightened political discourse in the years since Trump took the Oval Office. Losing in 2020 only made things worse, with Trump’s propagation of the Big Lie resulting in the January 6 attack on the capitol on the part of his political supporters.

About Ashli Babbitt

That particular attack led to multiple people being injured, with one civilian dying during the break-in, Ashli Babbitt. Trump supporters have hailed her as something of a martyr to their cause, claiming that she was murdered by capitol police for merely expressing her political belief that Biden didn’t win the 2020 election.

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Of course, this disregards the fact that breaking into the capitol is a crime of its own proportion, and attempting to subvert the 2020 election, as was the point of the “Stop the Steal” rally, is another crime.

Police Officers Were Injured, Too

Babbitt was not the only person who died during that day, though. Multiple capitol police officers were assaulted and injured in pursuit of their duty to protect the capitol, and some even died. Several officers also passed away later, due to injuries that were sustained during the attack, a tragedy that is still affecting their families to this day.

Source: Wikimedia/Tyler Merbler

This is in spite of the fact that Trump has, since the beginning of his political career and even before he decided to get into politics, has said that he is “very pro-police.” Trump has stated that he is one of the biggest supporters of various law enforcement agencies, and that other governments – both federal and local – who have tried to cut funding to police departments are “pro-crime.”

Talking About Crime

It’s a talking point that Trump has used multiple times over his various political campaigns, especially when endorsing his own candidates in various local races. He has claimed that Democrats are “pro-crime” and “anti-police” and “pro-ANTIFA,” and has used these buzzword claims to try and push himself and other far-right conservatives as what’s best for the country.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

He has even gone so far as to say crime in America is higher than it has ever been in the past, and that it is exclusively because of Democratic leadership. He points to Joe Biden’s presidency as the reason for these allegedly high crime rates, positioning himself as the solution to this problem for the American people.

An Effective, Emotional Talking Point

Of course, current data does not back up this claim. While there is a widespread perception in the country that crime is at excessively high rates at the moment, it’s not true. Across the board, violent crime is dropping, with many jurisdictions seeing record low rates of murder and felony assault due to various policies that have been implemented in the last ten years.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Of course, facts largely don’t matter when it comes to emotional responses. Trump uses “high rates of crime” as a talking point because it works to stir up his base, as well as to convince uncertain moderates and Democrats that he would be better positioned to work for their needs. The point is not to tell the truth, but to paint himself as the savior who can soothe Americans’ fears.

Democrats Struggling to Break Through the Narrative

Democrats have struggled to combat this narrative, given its effectiveness at wrangling the emotions of various Americans. Painting himself as the “pro law and order” candidate was one of the winning sells when Trump ran for president in 2016, and it appears that he’s trying to use the same narrative to win again.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The blatant lack of truth in what Trump says is what grates on many Democrats, particularly those who are currently in office. Many former officials have come out against him and called him out for his exaggerations, though, including the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

Working in the Obama Administration

Napolitano worked in Homeland Security during the Obama administration, from 2009 to 2013, and she recently spoke to former Press Secretary Jen Psaki on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki.”

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There, when speaking about former President Trump, Napolitano stated that Trump saying that he is the “law and order” candidate would be like her saying that she’s in the NBA.

Just Because it Sounds Good, Doesn’t Mean it’s True

“So, first of all, for former President Trump to run as a so-called law and order candidate, it would be like me saying I play in the NBA. I mean, it just…just doesn’t hold true.” The answer was in response to Psaki asking Napolitano what her response was to Trump’s repeated claims that crime is “worse than ever” in the United states.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Psaki noted that crime is down in most places throughout the country, but is up in some specific cities, including Washington D.C. Napolitano pushed back on the idea that crime has jumped during Biden’s term in the White House.

A Spike in Violent Crime

“So, look, there was a terrific spike in violent crime, really, during the end of the Trump presidency, when we were in the midst of the COVID pandemic. But since then, crime has been coming down in some years dramatically. So last year, 2023 saw the largest one year decrease in violent crime nationwide than we’ve had since around 1960,” she said.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

“And so, to say, we are awash in violent crime that is going up, et cetera, et cetera. Look, never let the facts get in the way of rhetoric, I guess. But the facts are the facts,” she finished.

A Statement Supported by Evidence

Napolitano’s statement is supported by an FBI report that released last month, showing that violent crime in the United States continued to decrease in 2023 following a pandemic-era spike. Biden has praised the statistics, stating that he will continue to work as president to keep various communities safe.

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Psaki then asked Napolitano how she felt about Republicans using violent crimes as “evidence that migrant crime is a major driver of crime.” A recent example of this is the death of student Laken Riley, whose suspected murderer is a Venezuelan citizen who entered the United States illegally in 2022.

One Case Doesn’t a Pattern Make

“So look, making an overall argument about crime from one terrible case,” she said. “And it was, it’s a terrible case, and my heart goes out to the family and to the friends of the victim. But to make an overall national argument that we are watching violent crime caused by migrants, again, just doesn’t comply with the facts,” Napolitano said.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Crime and the border have polled as very strong issues for Republicans ahead of the 2024 election. It’s understandable why Trump is using the issues to make his case to his voters, as well as to moderates who are frustrated with the Biden administration. Understanding it doesn’t make his words true, though, as Napolitano pointed out in her interview.

Informed Americans are Smart Americans

If history serves as any indication, Trump will continue to say whatever he thinks will get him the presidency again. Many Americans and politicians fear a repeat of January 6 if Trump loses in November again, and given that he is currently facing criminal charges in two different jurisdictions regarding that case, it seems that the former President might be fearing something similar.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Still, it’s important to understand the line that Trump draws between fact and fiction. Even when Trump speaks the truth, he does so with an exaggerated tone and stretches the facts to the very limits of what could be considered “fact.” Americans should take everything that he says with a grain of salt, given that Trump himself does that with the truth.