The 2016 Democratic Coordinated Campaign, in which we are declaring that Enough is Enough of failed Republican governance, is focusing on how Democrats have a better way to deliver opportunity, security, and unity to South Carolina. A couple of weeks ago, I published a post laying out explaining how Republicans have failed to expand opportunity and how Democrats can do better. Here are my thoughts on security.
Every campaign, Republicans declare ad nauseam that Democrats are weak on security. Voters shouldn’t fall for this empty bluster, especially this year.
To hear Republicans tell it, the most likely cause of sudden premature death is “radical Islamic terrorism,” words that supposedly must be uttered to defeat the threat. To be sure, recent ISIS-directed and ISIS-inspired attacks on civilians in Europe and the United States are tragic, and we must do all we can to prevent more similar attacks from occurring.
But Republicans, led by Donald Trump, would go about addressing this threat in precisely the wrong way. Lumping all Muslims together with the extremists and banning them from our country is both bigoted and counterproductive. ISIS has openly declared that a major goal of their attacks is to provoke the West into turning against all Muslims, making Muslims more likely to resent the West and sympathize with ISIS’s anti-Western extremism.[i] Trump is playing directly into their hands and would make us less safe.
Do you trust this man with nuclear weapons?
Hillary Clinton has the judgment and experience to lead the coalition to destroy ISIS, prevent it from regenerating, and stop its sympathizers from attacking the homeland. In doing so, our most important allies will be Muslims, in the Middle East, in Europe, and here at home. Trump’s discrimination against them is not only wrong and anti-American; it is dangerous.
Though you might think otherwise if you’re only listening to Republicans, the threats to our security from abroad aren’t the only ones we need to be addressing. Personally, if there is a threat to my physical security, I don’t care what the source is—I don’t want to be harmed by a violent jihadist from the other side of the globe, a white supremacist from the other side of the state, a reckless driver from the other side of the road, an abusive partner from the other side of the house, or a disease from within my own body. Regrettably, when it comes to the closer-to-home security threats, South Carolina is one of the most dangerous states in the country.
Our state has the 4th highest traffic fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled.[ii] But Republicans in our state government won’t get serious about fixing our roads, and most of the Republicans in our congressional delegation voted against the most recent highway bill.[iii]
Our state has the highest rate of women murdered by men.[iv] Yet all eight Republicans in our congressional delegation voted against the most recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.[v]
Our state is in the bottom ten for overall health.[vi] Our life expectancy is more than two years less than the U.S. as a whole,[vii] equaling that of Uruguay.[viii] Yet Nikki Haley and other Republicans refuse to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, which would save nearly 200 South Carolina lives every year,[ix] even though the state’s share of the cost would be very small, and the South Carolina Hospital Association agreed to cover it completely.[x]
Regardless of the motive of a would-be violent perpetrator—religious extremism, racism, homophobia, mental illness, anger, or anything else—the harm that is perpetrated is likely to be much greater if a firearm is involved. More than 30,000 Americans die from guns every year,[xi] many times more per capita than in the rest of the developed world.[xii]
Yet Republicans in South Carolina and around the country have refused to enact even the most basic gun safety measures—like making sure all gun sales are subject to background checks, making sure the background check is complete before a gun can be sold, and making sure those on terrorist watch lists are denied access to firearms. These steps are consistent with the Second Amendment and would safe lives.
These common-sense gun safety measures are supported by huge majorities of South Carolinians. A Public Policy Polling poll released this week found that 84% of South Carolinians believe all gun sales should be subject to background checks, and 81% believe those on terrorist watch lists should not be allowed to buy firearms.[xiii] They are right on both counts.
Republicans like Donald Trump talk a big game on security, but they only talk about one of the many threats and don’t even have a plan that would address that one effectively. Enough is enough. Democrats will keep us safer from all types of harm.
[iii] http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll673.xml; http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=1&vote=00331
[v] http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm? congress=113&session=1&vote=00019; http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll055.xml