“Since it represents a resounding confession of failure and of political weakness, this brutal border closing evidently represents a basic Soviet decision which only war could reverse.” — President John F. Kennedy, August 1961
Walls are for communists and leaders interested in conflict. That’s what history tells us. From the Berlin Wall that split Germany to the Great Wall of China that kept out the barbarians, physical barriers represent a sharp division of humanity. President Donald Trump and his notorious-but-not-even-built-yet border wall will accomplish goals just the same.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) announced a plan to allocate $12-15 billion for the construction of a physical barrier on the border between the United States and Mexico. Like all large government projects, the question of “How will you pay for it?” remains to be answered.
During his campaign, Trump insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall. One week after Trump’s inauguration, that campaign promise could be turned on its head as Mexico’s president has publicly refused to fund the wall and even canceled a scheduled meeting at the White House over the disagreement.
In light of Mexico’s refusal, Trump proposed a 20 percent import tax on Mexican goods, the cost of which would be passed on to consumers. So, whether it is through taxes or spending, American voters will likely pay for the wall somehow.
Pre-election research by the Washington Post shows the U.S. spends $16.2 billion on immigration enforcement every year, but Trump could increase that cost by 82 percent. If Trump follows through with his larger immigration enforcement plan of deportation and more patrol agents, it could cost nearly $67 billion over five years.
Could Trump even finish the wall before his term is up in 2020? If the funding is generous and immediate, maybe, but that also depends on the mid-term election in 2018. If Democrats regain seats in Congress, Trump’s wall will be built at a much slower rate. If a Democrat is elected President in 2020, he or she could halt construction on the wall completely.
Beyond the question of “Can he do it?” Americans need to ask themselves if a wall is really what our country needs. Before Trump addresses the necessity of a wall, he could evaluate the effectiveness of the drug war. The illegality of marijuana and prostitution at the federal level keep drug cartels and human traffickers in business. Yet, Trump chooses to focus on the supply and not the demand.
Reagan-era Republicans were anti-wall
It is safe to say that Trump’s first attempt at international relations with Mexico is a failure. The conversation probably isn’t over, but it certainly hasn’t gone as promised thus far. On another international front, Trump says he would support “safe zones” in the Middle East for refugees attempting to escape the Syrian civl war.
If Trump’s border wall was implemented in Syria, it would kill innocent people. Do we want the same if a similar situation would happen in America? Any barrier that makes us less able to move as humans violates the fundamental freedom of self and individuality we love as Americans, or so we say.
The Republican Party was anti-wall in the 1980s when embroiled in the Cold War, but as the economy tanked again in 2008, immigrants were suddenly responsible for the lack of jobs in America. Although that sentiment came to a fever pitch with Trump, it became part of the national conversation in the 2012 Presidential election.
Citizens of East Berlin who attempted to escape by climbing over the wall were shot on sight. The construction of a wall is the first step in controlling the economy and movement of people and their money. If the wall is built and the executive branch continues to decline into despotism, soon a wall could be used not to keep others out, but to keep Americans in.
When economic freedom decreases, people and businesses will seek to travel elsewhere. The construction of a wall limits the shining light of liberty, presently fading brick by brick.
Follow Brad Omland on Twitter: @bradradio.