Fresh off a stinging defeat on DACA at the Supreme Court and a fizzled campaign rally in Tulsa, President Trump is returning to his favorite subject: his border wall obsession. Tuesday, Trump is set to go to Yuma, AZ to tout the supposed construction of 200 miles of the wall, one of two stops in the Grand Canyon State.
But what he may view as his ego’s comfort zone, with chants of “build the wall” echoing in his memory, the rest of us view it differently. The wall remains the perfect encapsulation of Trump and his presidency: narcissistic; ineffective; corrupt; offensive and unpopular.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Trump’s border wall encapsulates why he is such a weak and divisive leader. At a time of national crisis exposing his ongoing failures, Trump heads to Arizona on a taxpayer-funded election stop to tout the ineffective and costly border wall.
We doubt he’ll highlight the wall’s many failings. We doubt he’ll focus on the fact that he secured the estimated $18 billion in costs by raiding funds appropriated by Congress for military families support, FEMA relief projects, and National Guard readiness. We doubt he’ll brag about spending hundreds of millions on painting the wall a darker shade of paint because he thinks black is a more menacing color. We doubt he’ll highlight how this project is being corruptly contracted to the president’s cronies. We doubt he’ll mention that he has failed to keep his promise that Mexico would pay for the border wall.
We do expect he will lie and say that Mexico is a source of the coronavirus and the wall is an effective response — when, in fact, America has closed its borders with Mexico and the U.S. is the undisputed world champion in deaths and infections as the nation with the worst response to COVID-19 on the planet.
Trump’s one-note presidency seeks to keep us divided along racial and ethnic lines in a cynical and desperate attempt to cling to power. The wall captures that dynamic and reminds all of us why his presidency is such a dangerous failure.
Below are reminders why Trump’s border wall obsession embodies Trump’s presidency: both are narcissistic, ineffective, corrupt, offensive and unpopular:
- Narcissistic: That Trump is set to celebrate supposedly 200 miles of the wall – after installing a self-congratulatory plaque commemorating 100 miles – captures the larger self-congratulatory motivations that’s driving this whole stupid focus on the border wall. Remember, the whole border wall obsession only happened after Trump liked the way 2016 rally crowds fed his ego and delivered their racist “build the wall” chant.
- Ineffective: The border wall itself is a ridiculous policy idea – wasteful, offensive, and just plain ineffective. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that “People are sawing through and climbing over Trump’s border wall. Now contractors are being asked for ideas to make it less vulnerable.” The supposedly “impenetrable” border wall can be cut through with a cheap saw, climbed over with a rope or ladder, knocked over with a stiff wind, and it must be left open for months at a time during the summer because of potential flood damage.
- Corrupt: Instead of Mexico paying for the wall, as Trump infamously promised, American taxpayers are paying for it. But while taxpayers’ tab is heading to more than $20 billion for the wall, the vast majority was appropriated by Congress for other non-wall costs, such as military construction funds that Trump raided using a fake national emergency declaration. And now he wants to spend between $500 million and $3 billion to paint the wall black. And who’s getting the big contracts to build the wall? Trump cronies and GOP donors, such as Fisher Sand and Gravel. Calling the wall a corrupt boondoggle is offensive to other boondoggles.
- Offensive: The wall is not a policy debate, it’s a proclamation of racial grievance and xenophobia. Ever since it emerged during the 2016 cycle, the wall and its ugly chants have been not about a physical structure, but a metaphor that sends a clear message that it’s time to keep out ‘those brown people’ and preserve power and privilege for certain white people. It’s the essence and animating force of Trumpism.
- Unpopular: The border wall is unpopular among most Americans, with approximately 60% of the public opposed. During Trump’s presidency, the wall has grown more unpopular (see this related Cato Institute assessment), including among residents of the four southern border states. A December 2019 Washington Post story that interviewed military veterans, longtime Texans, and Trump 2016 voters who were set to lose their property highlights one of the most unpopular aspects of the wall building – seizing land from private property owners.