President Trump is now openly embracing a policy of medieval punishment for drug dealers used today by notorious Asian dictators.
During a campaign rally for embattled GOP Congressional candidate Rick Saccone in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, Trump departed from stumping for Saccone to embellish his accomplishments and double down on his promises to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. However, perhaps the most shocking moment of the night was when he called for prosecutors to be able to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.
“Do you think the drug dealers who kill thousands of people during their lifetime, do you think they care who’s on a blue-ribbon committee?” Trump rhetorically asked the crowd. “The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness.”
“I don’t know if this country’s ready for it,” Trump said.
While it was reported last month that Trump floated the idea of executing drug dealers as a potential solution to the opioid crisis, Saturday night’s rally was the first time Trump openly endorsed the radical proposal outside of the White House.
Even though President Trump said during the rally that he got the idea from Chinese President Xi Jinping, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has waged the most visible campaign against drug dealers in the Southeast Asian country, with government death squads responsible for at least 12,000 deaths in the Philippines’ brutal crackdown on drug dealers and users. In May of last year, Duterte told reporters that in a phone call with the U.S. president, Trump congratulated him on doing a “great job” in his handling of the drug war.
There’s no denying the United States has a major opioid crisis that needs to be addressed. However, Trump’s proposal of harsher punishments on drug dealers hasn’t proven to be effective, given the United States’ decades of failed “War on Drugs” policies. Allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug offenders isn’t likely to make a dent in the addiction crisis sweeping America right now, and the proof lies in recent history.
Former President Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill dramatically increased incarceration rates across the board by implementing rigid mandatory sentences for even low-level drug offenders. Clinton’s bill followed decades of failed federal policies geared towards punitive punishment dating back to the Nixon presidency, all in a fruitless attempt to get tough on drug users and dealers. Despite Democrats’ and Republicans’ best efforts, drug-related violence and addiction rates have shown no sign of stopping or even slowing.
Portugal, for its part, managed to curb what was once Europe’s highest addiction rate by taking a more compassionate approach to drug policy. As Grit Post recently reported, Portugal halved its addiction rate by diverting more taxpayer dollars to public health programs, rather than law enforcement budgets. Now, Portugal’s addiction rate is the second-lowest in Europe.
States that have taken a proactive approach to the addiction crisis by legalizing marijuana for recreational use are now preparing for court battles with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In January, Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy of not pursuing states that defy existing federal law prohibiting the use and sale of marijuana, meaning the Department of Justice may end up battling both red and blue state governments in the courtroom this year.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.