Approximately five weeks ago in Calexico, California a plaque with President Donald Trump’s name on it was affixed to part of the initial two-mile stretch of the president’s long-sought border wall with Mexico.
Members of the media who showed up for the ceremony couldn’t help but notice that the newly built wall actually has a lot in common with a fence.
Not so, insisted U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
“It’s different than a fence in that it also has technology. It’s a full wall system,” explained Nielsen.
Now to be fair to the media who were present, this “full wall system” as Nielsen described it does have multiple evenly-spaced slats with obvious air gaps in between them.
Like a fence.
A very tall fence at 30 feet high, mind you, but a fence nonetheless.
“It’s a wall,” insisted Nielsen. “This is what the president has asked us to do. It’s part of a system.”
At the end of the day whether it’s technically a wall or a fence doesn’t really matter. As long as the fence-like wall system does its job and prevents unauthorized entries across the southern border I don’t think anyone will care.
But one thing many of the power-brokers who live 2,570 miles away from Calexico in Washington do care about is how much more of Trump’s border wall gets built.
In fact, it’s so important that President Trump vowed to allow a partial government shut-down later his month unless the wall is funded by Congress. The president even floated the idea of taking money out of the Pentagon’s budget and having the military build the border wall if Congress failed to act.
And with good reason. The border wall with Mexico was then-candidate Trump’s main election promise. If he fails to live up to that promise the entire 2020 campaign will be an endless loop of TV commercials of Trump promising the wall will be built and that Mexico will pay for it. Cut away to Democrat candidates standing in empty fields in southern parts of Texas and Arizona pointing out that Trump’s border wall is no wall to be found.
The bottom line is that if there’s no wall there, it will be a disaster for the president and the Republican party.
The American people will not put up with excuses either. President Trump can campaign all he wants that “Chuck and Nancy” are the ones to blame for the wall not getting built. Senate Democrats stalled his agenda, the president could say. Congressional Democrats refused to listen to the will of the people, Trump would likely argue.
It won’t matter come the election.
Trump said we’d have a wall. Either there will be a wall, or there won’t.
It’s a pretty binary thing.
Given that about four years will have passed, excuses won’t cut it. That’s why the political stakes of the border wall could not be higher.
If President Trump would like a second term in the Oval Office, he had better find a way to fulfill his promise and get the wall built one way or another. If Democrats want to make Trump a one-term president, they can do so by finding a way to stop the wall.
Even if it is technically a fence.