Howard Lehman: Trump has made the U.S. less safe and secure

(Patrick Semansky | AP file photo) In this June 1 photo, President Donald Trump departs the White House to visit outside St. John's Church, in Washington. Walking behind Trump from left are, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Donald Trump’s campaign now is asking Americans whether we are better or worse off than four years ago. A more relevant question is whether Americans are more or less secure than four years ago. Without a doubt, Trump’s policies have made us less secure and safe.

First, his national security policies have significantly weakened our global standing. The U.S. has retreated from important international agreements, pulled out of global institutions and broken with our important allies. Even more essentially, Trump has diminished the reputation of our military by calling fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers” and has disparaged the intelligence community by questioning its legitimacy. His repeated attacks against these pillars of our national security only make our country less secure. Disgustingly, he failed to punish Russia for paying bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Second, his incompetent and neglectful approach to the pandemic has undermined the nation’s health security. Trump’s determined ignorance about the virus led to the lack of any national strategy in confronting and containing the virus. We now know the disturbing truth that Trump early on knew about the destructive impact of the virus and yet he purposefully failed to lead our country in a way to develop a national strategy to manage the epidemic. At 1,000 daily deaths, several hundreds of thousands more of Americans will die by the time a vaccine is widely distributed. His lies about the use of bleach, untested drugs, and ridiculous claims that the virus will simply disappear have damaged our health security for years to come.

Third, the nation’s economic security goes hand-in-hand with our health security. Our nation is suffering through the worse economic period since the Great Depression. Trump’s failure to effectively contain the pandemic has led to millions of unemployed and the largest deficit in U.S. history. Unfortunately, even when we are able to manage the virus in another year or two, millions of Americans will not have jobs to which to return. Due to Trump’s ineptitude, the economic security especially for young Americans will remain frayed for another decade.

Fourth, this summer demonstrated once again the importance of environmental security. Record forest fires, flooding, hurricanes and drought are the known result of climate change. Trump’s destructive deregulation of environmental policies is leading to a worsening of our air, land, and water. These environmental crises paradoxically also present a crucial opportunity. As Joe Biden emphasizes, where Trump denies climate change, Biden sees jobs. The U.S. needs to shift to renewable energy not only as a means to counter the negative effects of climate change, but to strengthen American innovation and to create long-lasting employment opportunities.

Finally, this summer also raised the relevancy of racial security in our country. Many Americans have lived with racial insecurity for multiple generations and now more Americans have become aware of long-standing racial injustice in our country. Racial insecurity exists in law enforcement, education, the economy, housing and health. Health officials state that people of color are three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and five times more likely to be hospitalized than whites. As Trump has led our country into widespread retreat with national security, health, the economy, and the environment, he has intentionally dismissed the policies and institutions of racial insecurity.

Our nation is less secure and less safe than four years ago. Utahns should reject Trump’s failed leadership that has weakened our security in so many ways. Vote for our security and safety by voting for Biden. Vote for Biden as if your security depends on it.

Howard Lehman

Howard Lehman is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah. The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author, and not to the university.

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