President Donald Trump continues to draw criticism for divisive statements, though it’s increasingly clear the president is laying out for the American people the sharp dividing lines between himself and the field of Democratic candidates.
A recent example is the announcement by the administration via Attorney General William Barr that a moratorium on the federal death penalty would end. Barr said the federal government will resume executing death-row inmates for the first time since 2003, instructing the Bureau of Prisons to schedule executions starting in December for five men, all accused of murdering children.
The critics immediately pounced on the decision, but as noted by Michael Graham, political editor at InsideSources.com, they should take a look at the polls.
Just days earlier, a new NPR/Marist poll found only 36% of Americans support abolishing the death penalty, while 58% oppose a ban.
And is it a coincidence that the White House made the move the day after Democrat Joe Biden released his criminal justice plan that reverses decades of support for the death penalty? With Biden’s shift on the issue, there’s just one 2020 candidate left — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock — who sides with the pro-capital punishment majority, according to Graham.
“Even if the tide is turning against the death penalty in the abstract (though there’s no evidence that it is), the specifics of this story are terrible for Democrats. One of the five federal criminals who now faces execution by the Trump administration is white supremacist Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted of murdering an entire family, including an 8-year-old little girl,” Graham writes. “Does any Democrat with a chance of being the party’s presidential nominee really want to fight for this murderer’s life?
“With Sen. Bernie Sanders protecting not just the life of the Boston Marathon terror bomber but his right to vote as well, embracing the death penalty is a political no-brainer for President Trump.”
Beyond the death penalty, Graham cites other high-profile issues where Democratic candidates are out of step with the American people. That same Marist poll found Americans oppose the “Medicare for All” plan to end private health insurance. And they are adamantly opposed to the Democrats’ proposal to give free health care to illegal immigrants, rejecting it by a 30-point margin (62 to 32%). Americans also oppose the Democrats’ proposal to decriminalize illegal border crossings by 40%.
“Every major 2020 Democratic candidate supports at least one of these proposals, and many (Sanders, Warren, and Harris, among others) support them all. Throw in reparations for slavery and Universal Basic Income, two other ideas that are part of the Democrats’ 2020 debate, and the party is offering voters a plethora of unpopular proposals,” Graham states.
Why? Because they are popular among Democratic primary voters. For example:
• 55% of Democrats support abolishing the death penalty.
• 60% of Democrats support national health insurance available for illegals.
• 45% of Democrats support (while 47% oppose) decriminalizing illegal border crossings.
“Thus the dilemma: To win the nomination, 2020 hopefuls have to appease this progressive base. But the issues that inspire them are unpopular with the general electorate as a whole.”
Throw in the unpopularity of Democrats’ continuing talk about impeaching Trump and it’s hardly a surprise that an outspoken president is willing to go overboard in stating opposition to his Democratic opponents.
As Graham concludes, “Every time President Trump can take the attention off of his relatively low popularity and get the focus on issues such as illegal immigration or the death penalty, his fortunes improve.”