Stop Trying to Make the Wall Happen

Government Shutdown, Build a Wall

The great Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

People, more or less, are predictable. You can observe patterns in traffic to predict when you’re about to get cut off on the freeway. You can anticipate someone running to tell someone else something you said. If that guy or girl doesn’t text you back? Well, the signs were probably there that he or she was just not that into you.

After a few decades on earth, there should be little that actually surprises you regarding general human behavior.

And yes, Maya Angelou had a point. People will often tell you one thing, but they can’t help but show you the most authentic, true version of themselves. It’s only ever a matter of time.

A good rule of thumb is to lower whatever expectations you have for people, as far as how you’d like them to think or behave. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic here, either. People are always capable of great achievements, of being the bigger person, or of generally bettering themselves, but you can’t always go into an interaction with them expecting the absolute most of them. Maybe they’ll get there someday, but again…

They’ll show you who they really are. If you expect (different from hope) that they’ll be any different than you know them to be, then as the other saying goes, shame on you.

When Trump announced his candidacy for president, people laughed. I never understood why. The man was dead serious. The more we laughed and gasped, the more we were fueling his marketing campaign. The more we listened in disbelief to the things he said, certain that no one would fall for his brand of ridiculousness, the closer he got to the White House.

And as we all scratched our heads trying to figure out why this was happening, despite the fact that we were constantly clicking on any headline with his name in it, we hardly took a moment to consider the base he was actively building.

The more he ranted about things that were factually inaccurate or socially unacceptable, those who tried to justify voting for him said that he’ll suddenly act presidential once he’s elected.

Even Mitt Romney touted this belief recently.

Mitt Romney and all others who said that during his candidacy, for who knows what reason, were surprised that on Election Day 2016, Trump didn’t suddenly morph into a different person than he’d always been.

When he proposed building a wall as a solution to illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the US-Mexico border, we scoffed at the idea.

Who were we, Germany? Korea?

What was that actually going to help?

How much was this wall going to cost?

Who was going to pay for it?

19 days into what will likely be the longest government shutdown our country has seen, we’re trying to fund this damn wall.

Trump’s initial response to the “Who’s going to pay for it?” question seemed about as thought out as his solution to illegal immigration.

“Mexico’s going to pay for the wall, and they’ll be happy to pay for it.”

And that was it. People didn’t question it much further than that, even though you can’t make another nation pay for anything they don’t want to pay for.

Even when the Mexican president flat-out said in no uncertain terms, “I declare, I’m not going to pay for that f*cking wall…Mexico will not pay for the f*cking wall,” Trump’s supporters really, genuinely (I guess?) believed that Trump was a magician dealmaker and would somehow convince or strong-arm Mexico into paying for the border wall.

I suppose if you say something enough times, people will believe you, even when the idea itself is nonsensical.

After two years of a Republican-held Senate and House, Trump failed to secure funding for his wall.

Now, with a Democratic House, we’re in a government shutdown because unless Trump gets funding for the wall in the spending bill, he won’t sign it.

Democrats obviously don’t want to allocate money to this cause, but they have offered a compromise at one point that was deemed not good enough by Trump.

In an effort to justify the shutdown, Trump and his cronies have been hitting the media circuit, but they’ve found themselves fact-checked and criticized at every turn, even on Fox News.

For instance, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders did an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace, and it didn’t go well for her.

Wallace: “’Special interest aliens’ are just people who come from countries that have ever produced terrorists – they’re not terrorists themselves. The State Department says that there is…no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico.”

Huckabee-Sanders: “We know that, roughly, nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.”

Wallace: “Do you know where those 4,000 people come [from], where they’re captured? Airports! The State Department says there haven’t been any terrorists that they’ve found coming across the southern border.”

They’re trying to frame it as “a genuine humanitarian and security crisis,” as VP Pence put it, because they’re trying to justify the president potentially declaring a national state of emergency to fund the wall. Trump, himself, has referred to the situation as a “growing” crisis where terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminals are entering our country illegally via Mexico.

Let’s debunk a few things.

According to Politico, illegal immigrants are far less likely than natural-born United States citizens to commit crimes and be incarcerated for them.

The threat isn’t “growing,” either. Illegal immigration and border crossings has been down since the Obama administration.

The funding for the wall won’t come from Mexico, which was Trump’s actual campaign promise, nor will it come indirectly from a trade deal made with Mexico (and Canada). You can read more about that here, but briefly, the trade deal, which hasn’t even been ratified by Congress yet, would largely benefit individuals and corporations. In other words, the money from it wouldn’t go into the national treasury. I guess the “indirectly” part means that those individuals and corporations, through taxes, donations, and the incredibly flawed theory of trickled-down economics would eventually return their capital gains back to the government. Or through money “saved” by switching from NAFTA to Trump’s unpassed USMCA deal, Mexico would essentially be paying for the wall.

One of my favorite parts of this whole saga was when Huckabee-Sanders tried to push this idea on a room full of journalists. At one point, someone asked her,

“Sarah, have you done the math on that?”

Nope. There’s no way she has.

Moving on, Trump blames the Democrats for the government shutdown, even though he explicitly stated that he would 1) take responsibility for it, 2) gladly shut the government down, and 3) be happy to keep the shutdown going for months or even a year.

He says that the Democrats don’t want to allocate funds for border security, which is not true. They’ve offered $1.3 billion for border security – just not $5 billion for a wall.

“Border security” is not synonymous with “build a wall.”

By the way, what happened to that caravan from November? Nothing? Nothing.

Last night, President Trump gave his primetime address on the major news networks regarding his stance on the wall. I haven’t watched it. I’ll probably watch it at some point on YouTube, but considering the rhetoric coming out of the White House regarding the reasoning behind this shutdown, I can’t imagine his address is more than falsehoods, incoherent ramblings (although it looks like someone hooked him up with a TelePrompter), and fear-mongering. From the reports that have come out since the address, it seems like that’s exactly what it was.

Fact-checkers from major reporting outlets have been working overtime debunking his speech line by line, starting with his opening sentence. I don’t see how this is productive in ending the ongoing shutdown. It seems like an attempt to reaffirm to his base that he’s fighting this fight for them. In fact, he’s regularly asserted that the people directly affected by this shutdown want him to keep pressing for the wall, despite the fact that they can’t pay their bills.

One thing I know about the American people is that they’ll stand for any cause they believe in – until their bank accounts are hit. He said furloughed workers will figure out a way to get by, as they “always do,” apparently, and his administration even (seriously) suggested they start taking on odd jobs to make up for their missing paychecks.

Pass. Pass on all of that.

Last night, instead of watching Trump, I was listening to Michael Jackson. That’s not unusual for me, by any means, but I busted out the History album. Haven’t given that one a listen in a while.

I’d been going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to watch the address.

I have to know what’s going on and what’s being said, especially if I’m going to write about this shutdown, right?

Then again, how do you deal with a narcissist? You ignore them. But can you ignore the president?

Then again, again, I already know what he’s going to say because he and his team have been saying it all this time in the media, and I can’t support his stance by giving him my viewership. It’s the same reason I try not to consume media that I know won’t be worth my time, either because it’ll be untrue or toxic. A click and a view are like currency. I’m not going to give my money to junk just because I’m curious about it.

Michael helped me with my dilemma.

One of my favorite songs off of that album has always been “Tabloid Junkie.”

Let’s see…that album came out in 1995, so I was 6 or 7 years old when it dropped. I remember liking the song back then, mainly because it has a super catchy beat and…it’s Michael Jackson. I didn’t know what a tabloid was, though, so I had to ask my mother to explain it to me.

Once she told me tabloids were slanderous publications that used shock value to spread rumors and sell copies, I knew what she was talking about. I’d seen them in the grocery store stands.

I didn’t understand it on a personal level because I didn’t really understand the lure of gossip and scandal yet, but I got the concept.

Listening to Tabloid Junkie as a kid, I felt bad for him. Keep in mind, this was the mid-90s, so Michael was fully and deeply embroiled in scandal. If anyone knew the media circus, it was him.

The lyrics of Tabloid Junkie are timeless, and one part stood out to me as I was listening last night:

“And you don’t have to read it, and you don’t have to eat. To buy it is to feed it. No wonder we keep fooling ourselves. Just because you read it in a magazine or see it on the TV screen don’t make it factual, though everybody wants to read all about it.”

Trump’s doing all of this for attention, to save face, and to appease his base, which is small. Even within his base, he’s losing supporters.

Crystal Minton, a furloughed Trump supporter said in a quote that’s gone somewhat viral,

 “I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this. I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

The main part of the quote that’s rubbing people the wrong way is obviously that last sentence because it provides some scary insight into what his base actually believes, how they think, and what their priorities are.

Crystal Minton really was confused as to why this wall is literally costing her money right now.

But, it’s like Maya Angelou said…

People are predictable. Don’t be surprised when they act as they always have.

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