As of this writing, President Trump just ended the Government shutdown over “The Wall.” It quickly became clear to Mr. Trump that Democrats would never allow the building of a wall. Why? Let’s first look at the origins of the concept. The idea, according to Stuart Anderson of Forbes magazine, came originally from Roger Stone (now under indictment) and Sam Nunberg as a means of keeping the United States focused on illegal immigration. Trump became smitten with the concept as he eventually called it a “big beautiful wall.” And he often corrected reporters by correcting them, “It’s not a fence, it’s a wall. You just misreported it.” No scientific evidence went into the concept; no real thought; no studies of significance. It was merely a campaign slogan that eventually became Trump’s reality. Trump said it so many times, he convinced himself of the concept and it became his personal battle with humanity.
Donald Trump has made xenophobia a centerpiece of his presidency. The list of his pitiful acts demonstrating his controversial views is long but one can merely think of his response (or lack thereof) to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, “I think there is blame on both sides.” This division or his metaphor for division–a wall, now is the centerpiece of his Presidency, and it is now the potential breaking point for Republicans. Many give him credit for sticking to his promise to his “base.” This has come down to a one issue President: use The Wall as his self-imposed breaking point for this country. It is a crowning the metaphor for nationalism, racism, and populism all rolled into one. Isolate the world from the USA so we can be better off. As he recently tweeted, “Build a wall & crime will fall!”
The President has also managed to make himself the centerpiece of xenophobia, unmitigated hatred, cultural intolerance, and, most sadly, the Russian investigation. In Trump’s mind, it is not what is good for the country, but instead it is what is good for Trump. As Maggie Haberman first reported in 2016 and again more recently in 2019 for The New York Times, Trump’s strategy in becoming President wasn’t an ends, but a means for getting what he wants: our undivided attention. He loves attention and if this attention continues, whether good or bad, he can continue his rise as dictator of the world–Hitler style. Along with that attention comes power and the way Mr. Trump looks at everything now, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He no doubt felt that once he became President, he could create fear and then loyalty to bend the Constitution to fit his ego. Unfortunately, as a demagogue, he has also succeeded in moving the agenda from more pressing, dangerous issues that affect all of us to his issues that will glorify and placate his eggshell ego.
The main danger of this abominable President isn’t what he is doing, but it is what he is not doing. At first it was a tax cut then it became the dismantling of Obamacare then it became a wall. He has us focused on what he thinks is important and, given a man of little knowledge, little patience, and little understanding of governing, he has turned the agenda to things that make a conservative Republican happy: an agenda of so little government that nothing gets done by government. Isn’t that what a conservative Republican wants? His distracting us from dealing with real problems benefits wealthy Republicans. Or so they seem to believe. It does little for the rest of us, and if left undeterred will eventually hurt wealthy Republicans as well. He has distracted all of us by creating arguments that are nonsensical and a complete waste of our time. Instead of talking about our most pressing issues—climate change being the top of most of humanity’s agenda—he has succeeded in moving the agenda in our minds away from this. He is the class clown who looks for attention and has us focusing on him when he interrupts the teacher’s most important lesson to talk about himself. That is why he tweets all day long. As a prototypical narcissist, he views his time as President as a complete success, regardless of his irresponsible actions. He has been able to create his own fantasy about himself which is self-serving. For the rest of us in the United States and even those throughout the rest of the world, his “see me now, see me now” nonstop tweeting has been the least of his flaws. Most damaging, his election has stalled the efforts of this country to attack some of the greatest problems humanity has ever seen: climate change, inequality, and resource depletion. Again, character matters critically as President; inexperience can be overcome with the daunting task as President when surrounded by strong cabinet members giving strong advice. Ignorance can always be supplemented by those around the most powerful person in the world, but defective character traits can never be corrected.
In his calls for “The Wall,” Mr. Trump claims the following as accepted facts:
Fact #1: Illegal aliens who cross the border are a danger to all us. Probably false: read Frances Bernat and Arash Emamzadeh.
Fact #2: Closed borders are better for the United States. Probably false: read The Supercivilization: Survival in the Era of Human Versus Human.
Fact #3: Illegal immigration is a major problem for this country. Probably false: read John Burnett.
Fact #4: A wall will significantly and positively impact the fallacious Facts #1-3. Probably false: read Benjamin Waddell and Matias Fonteria.
The Republicans view him as a flawed but seemingly effective President. How do we know? Simple. People like Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, and Lindsey Graham firmly back the President in spite of his ties to and support for Russia. Oddly, the Republican Party has turned 180 degrees on Russia since the 1980s when President Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachev on June 12, 1987 to, “Tear down this wall.” Trump is a buffoon; yet the Republicans continue to support him because he is the perfect President for them: he will do virtually nothing but wallow in self-platitudes concocted by his “base” and that is exactly what conservatives want. And if he does something “stupid” (as in the case of his brief support for gun control after the Parkland shooting), Republicans will merely remind him of their longstanding positions (and monetary donations to his campaign) to keep him focused on “nothing.” The Wall even was a nonissue for this year’s budget approval process until Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge, right wing zealots, reminded him that his capitulation on The Wall was embarrassing and a “joke.” Trump’s mind lives in fantasy and is not based upon the empirical world; his heart lives in the twentieth century during a time of post-WWII dominance. At that time the United States could dictate to the world its version of reality. The old phrase was correct, “When the US said to jump, the rest of the world asked ‘How high?’” No longer.
Things, unfortunately, have to get worse before they get better for Republicans to desert Trump. As long as he continues to do nothing but focus on inane, silly issues like “The Wall,” the Republicans will continue to support him. Ironically, the most dangerous person who has begun to destroy this country, Vladimir Putin, has gained carte blanche entry into this country’s heart and soul. Putin is obliterating the very institutions that we so very much cherish and he has not even stepped foot on our soil since his master puppetry began.