Donald Trump wants to shut down all immigration. Ted Cruz thinks uttering the phrase "radical Islam" will help defeat it. Hillary Clinton says the U.S. needs to "intensify and broaden" its anti-ISIS strategy.
Each of these things is dumb, in its own way. Trump and Cruz's statements are dumb in a cartoonish way—the U.S. will close all its borders because of an attack on another continent? –does Ted Cruz think it makes one difference to the military-aged Muslim males Obama is profiling and killing that the president avoids using the words "radical Islam"?
Clinton's statements may be more dangerous because they're treated as adult-like.
The U.S. anti-ISIS strategy so far hasn't yielded much on the ground. A recent ISIS rocket attack that killed a U.S. Marine based in Iraq led to the U.S. sending even more troops into Iraq. Like the war in Iraq never ended, and now Clinton suggests more of the same. Her foreign policy is cartoonish in its own special way.
She pushed the U.S. into an intervention in Libya to topple Qaddafi, bragged about it, and now refuses to connect the dots between the intervention she supported in 2011 and the failed state and breeding ground for ISIS and other radical Islamist groups Libya has become today.
"These terrorists seek to undermine the democratic values that are the foundation of our way of life," Clinton tweeted this morning. "They will never succeed."
This is from a former secretary of state who blamed protests at U.S. embassies around the Muslim world in 2012 on a YouTube video and then targeted its creator for his exercise in free expression. The mainstream laughed at Donald Trump for saying he'd consult Bill Gates to figure out how to shut down portions of the Internet used by radical Islamists to recruit new fighters. But Hillary Clinton said the same thing, albeit without name dropping a tech leader who hasn't been relevant in tech since the 1990s.
Clinton says the terrorists won't succeed in undermining "the democratic values that are the foundation of our way of life." They've already succeeded, with the help of Clinton. She voted for the PATRIOT Act, the first "democratic values" cherry popped after 9/11, and was a member of the inaugural Obama administration, helping to ensure the broad strokes of the Bush counter-terrorism strategy outlived the Bush administration itself.
Fifteen years after 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, mere religiously-motivated shootings move the government apparatus to crush more civil liberties. The FBI director proudly climbed the pile of dead bodies at San Bernardino to demand Apple create an encryption back door law enforcement that would threaten the privacy of millions of Americans.
Clinton wants to abrogate Americans' second amendment rights in the name of safety, and that of American Muslims doubly so, supporting the use of the specious "terror watch list" to arbitrarily deny the rights of countless Americans, predominantly Muslims. But at least she doesn't say "radical Islamic terrorism"?
But "democratic values" aren't just about a reluctance to generalize about demographic groups. The reluctance is especially meaningless when it is limited to the rhetorical. Counter-terrorism strategies like "signature strikes" by CIA drones means Muslims around the world are being targeted not because they are known to the federal government to be involved in specific terrorist activity, but because they fit a profile—a profile largely predicated on their religion.
Democratic values are about freedom—the freedom to speak, the freedom to practice your religion, the freedom to spend your money, the freedom to associate with who you want, the freedom to defend yourself and your family, the freedom from an overbearing government that regularly violates your person, house, papers, and effects. Can anyone make a credible case that Clinton has defended any of these freedoms?
If the "war on terror" (but don't call it that!) is measured by America's commitment to "democratic values" it's already lost, with the most destructive forces not extremists in caves but so-called "moderates" in the halls of power at home.