The government shutdown caused by President Trump’s insistence that Congress appropriate nearly six billion dollars for his border wall continues into this week. A wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico is a wasteful and ineffectual project dreamed up by the Trump campaign to rally Trump’s most rabid and ignorant voters. The Democrats, fresh from a major win in the recent midterm elections, see an opportunity not only to derail an ill-conceived project but also to deliver a devasting blow to a dangerous and incompetent president. Trump recognizes the threat and is seeking to avoid defeat at all costs.
I suggested earlier that the current standoff will likely end when constituents pressure the Congress to reactivate those parts of the government that have been closed down. At that point, a funding bill could be passed over a presidential veto. Before that happens, Trump may declare an “emergency,” which could trigger a constitutional crisis those outcome cannot be predicted. Is a compromise available that delivers at least a partial victory to each side? I think there is.
Trump’s wall is clearly a wacky idea that, even if built, would not fulfill his promise of its being paid for by the Mexican government. That said, our southern border already contains lengths of barriers that have been considered necessary and effective by both Republicans and Democrats. Trump’s funding demand clearly will not complete a Great Wall of America. However, what if the president proposed building a specific type of barrier in specified places and articulated credible justification for the project? If he is incapable of doing this, gridlock will continue. If Trump can offer a rational argument for a limited construction project and not just his I-want-it-so-you-have-to-give-it-to-me reasoning, perhaps politicians can find a compromise to fund an enhanced border barrier and reopen the government.
Likely, neither the president nor congressional Democrats will be fond of my suggestion, but, if politics is the art of the possible, there may be a way forward to be had on the table.
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