Archived Opinion

Government shutdown is not really about a wall

Government shutdown is not really about a wall

By Norm Hoffman • Guest Columnist

Now we have yet another federal government shutdown. We have to ask if there ever was a government shutdown that Rep. Mark Meadows did not like or have a possible hand in making happen.

In 2013, as a freshman representative, Meadows and his Tea Party colleagues in the so-called Freedom Caucus helped shut down the government. Meadows seems to subscribe to the “my way or the highway” philosophy in making compromise a dirty word in government. Never mind that functioning governments require negotiations where neither party gets everything desired.

The 2013 shutdown cost businesses in Western North Carolina hundreds of thousands in lost revenues during tourist season. When the impacts of the 2013 shutdown sank in with people in the district, Meadows sought to downplay his role in the shutdown.

Now we have reports that Meadows was one participant in the right-wing group that visited with President Trump to urge him to resist any compromise on his demands for “funding” a border wall. Trump was reportedly willing to go along with a short continuing resolution to get the government past the holidays. But after that meeting and the lambasting by media celebrities from radio and Fox News in criticizing the resolution, Trump reversed course and dug in. We now have a shutdown because a weak and impressionable president can’t think for himself.

Make no mistake: this is not about a wall. If it was about a wall, Trump would have had his wall with the compromise given months ago when the Democrats agreed to the wall appropriation in exchange for a permanent solution to the so-called DACA DREAMERS. As with the present situation, Trump had said he would agree to the compromise to resolve the issue of youngsters brought to the U.S. who knew no other homeland. Again as with the present situation, right-wingers objected to any DACA solution, and Trump again changed his position.

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The real issue is that Trump, Meadows, and the other right-wingers don’t want anyone who is not lily white to enter the U.S. from any direction. If this was not the issue we would have 5,000 people processing asylum applications to determine if they were valid or not instead of 5,000 soldiers on the southern border putting up razor wire and doing other useless tasks. People who meet formally stated requirements are actually turned away without being allowed to present their case.

The other reason we know this is not actually about any wall is that a wall of any kind is useless without the surveillance required for a border. Additionally, a wall is not necessary or practical in many parts of the border. Why build a wall next to a river? In some locations the government would have to buy or take via eminent domain private land to build any wall. Anyone who has actually looked at the geography of the border with Mexico for more than 30 minutes realizes that a physical wall is not relevant except for limited areas — many of which already have some type of physical barrier.

Finally, the $5 billion solution Trump keeps repeating has no basis in reality. There is no plan for why that amount is required. Why not more or less than $5 billion? There is no explanation on how that money would be spent. How can you come up with a figure for a wall or any other solution without knowing how and for what the money will be spent? The wall is a red herring to give the impression there is a simple solution for a problem that Trump and the Republicans do not want to solve.

(Dr. Norm Hoffman is a semi-retired clinical psychologist living in Waynesville. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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