Members of the Republican Party, including California representatives in Congress, have rushed to embrace Trump’s sadistic, nonsensical idea of applying the death penalty to drug dealers, abandoning the real needs of Americans afflicted by the addiction crisis.
“I think that if a drug dealer is coming into the country and they’re giving dangerous drugs to minors, for example, I don’t feel bad about that,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) told Rolling Stone. “They can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”
Rohrabacher has admitted to using medical marijuana, but it is unclear if he would recommend capital punishment his own supplier.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who is retiring from Congress, said capital punishment would be a “useful tool” for law enforcement to fight drug crime. Issa, who was accused of arson and car theft prior to becoming a member of Congress, did not elaborate on whether or not the death penalty would be a “useful tool” in fighting those crimes.
New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said America “absolutely” should have the death penalty for drug dealers.
“I think we need to have real consequences,” he added.
Democrats have pointed out just how disastrous the Republican approach to this vital issue is.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a former prosecutor, called the idea “outrageous.” She noted, “It’s on a long list of things that are outrageous. My biggest fear is that we become numb.”
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said, “Capital punishment is the most extreme of all, and for him to cavalierly throw it around in the manner that he does is very dangerous. It’s dangerous for our system.”
Trump’s murderous idea has more in common with the rogue regime of Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte than the belief of the vast majority of Americans, who support treatment for those struggling with addiction rather than jail time.
Trump himself has admitted to taking his idea directly from the playbook of autocrats known for their records of human rights abuses.
“The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness,” Trump said recently at a rally in Pennsylvania. He claimed he got the idea from Chinese leaders.
“Big country, 1.4 billion people, right. Not much of a drug problem. I said what do you attribute that to? ‘Well, the death penalty.'”
Traditionally, America has sought to persuade the Chinese government to embrace more human rights, not look to their practices as a model for U.S. policy.
And while Trump promised during the presidential campaign that he would address the addiction epidemic, which kills thousands of Americans annually, in reality he has done little more than paid lip service.
He parceled out oversight of opioid to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has shown more skill at shilling for Trump on television than she has at dealing with a health crisis.
At the same time, Trump has proposed budget cuts for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the front-line responders to the opioid problem.
Trump’s brutal, murderous idea has more in common with the rogue regime of Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte than the belief of the vast majority of Americans, who support treatment for those struggling with addiction rather than jail time.
Embracing murder on a wider scale would not curtail the drug problem. In all likelihood, it would make things worse while further destroying America’s moral authority.
But doing the wrong thing and denigrating America’s reputation are central to the Trump approach. His fellow Republicans are once again showing that his behavior is out of touch with America, but in line with the party.