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Protesting agains Trump in Cleveland
Protesting agains Trump in Cleveland
The Editorial Board

WASHINGTON — These are anxious times in America. Despite a steadily, if slowly, growing economy and the absence of a major war, people remain troubled by a sense of national underperformance and myriad social ills, most recently the surge in racially tinged fatal shootings committed by law enforcement officers and against them. A new Gallup poll reports that only 17% of Americans feel satisfied with the way things are going, the lowest percentage since October 2013 — and down 12 points in just the past month.

For many, of course, a cause of concern is Donald Trump, who accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday evening. Belligerent and erratic, Trump nevertheless has a serious chance to win in November. In his acceptance speech, he sought to enhance his political prospects the only way he knows how: by inflaming public angst, so as to exploit it.

Trump took real challenges and recast them in terms that were not only exaggerated but also apocalyptic. "The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life," he claimed. Though he addressed issues ranging from public safety, to immigration, to trade, Trump's proposed solutions all shared a common premise: The way to overcome difficulty is through force. To American companies that exercise their right to move production abroad, the Trump administration will administer unspecified "consequences." A giant wall will block migrants and drug traffickers along the Mexico border. And "law and order" — an old trope of Richard Nixon and George Wallace that Trump brought out of retirement — will be restored.

Perhaps politically effective because of their simplicity, Trump's now-familiar formulations would fail as actual policies — because they are simplistic. There is no practical prospect, for example, of constructing the wall he insistently touts; even if built, drug traffickers and others could eventually tunnel under it. And, as per usual, last night he added no details to this plan that might convince anyone otherwise.

As for law and order, the president has at most indirect influence over thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country. To the extent it can be taken seriously at all, Trump's assertion that "safety will be restored" on the day of his inauguration implies a vast federalization of a traditional state and local function, contrary to long-standing law and custom — not to mention the small-government doctrine of the Republican Party that has so unwisely and hypocritically hitched its wagon to Mr. Trump's star. To tense communities in need of the nuanced toughness that police chiefs such as David O. Brown of Dallas have successfully applied, a President Trump would project from the White House a repressive attitude, unbuffered by a shred of sensitivity, racial or otherwise. Less safety, not more, could be the result.

Trump began his speech by presenting himself as the bearer of painful but necessary truth. And no doubt, for many of his listeners, his words expressed a deeply felt emotional reality. There is real fear in the land; real pain. But it will take real leadership, not the wishful, demagogic brand Trump embodied Thursday night, to address this.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why I Fled: Meet The Russian Men Choosing Exile Over Putin's War

After Vladimir Putin announced a national military draft, thousands of men are fleeing the country. Independent Russian news platform Vazhnye Istorii spoke to three men at risk of conscription who've already fled.

A mobilized man says goodbye to his daughter in Yekaterinburg.

Vazhnye Istorii

A mix of panic, violence and soul-searching has followed Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial mobilization of 300,000 men to fight the increasingly difficult “special operation” in Ukraine.

Soon after the announcement, protests were reported in Moscow and around the country, with at least 2,000 people being detained during the past several days. It is still unclear how successful these protests will be.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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More notably, the mobilization decree also prompted more than 260,000 men of conscription age to leave left the country. Observers believe that number will continue to grow, especially as long as the borders stay open. Almost all men aged 18-65 are eligible, but some professions, including banking and the media, are exempt.

Vazhnye Istorii, an independent Russian investigative news platform based in Latvia, spoke to three of the many thousands who have chosen to flee the country.

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