As of this writing President Trump just finished his televised speech, and the partial government shutdown is still in place, as President Trump stands firm on the southern border wall. He hasn’t asked for a northern border wall yet.
Now Mr. Trump has had, until now, a completely Republican Congress, and accomplishing this sordid end should have been easier then. But it seems he couldn’t accomplish it then, so he has resorted to a kind of blackmail at a time where he can make the case that it is the other party that is being intransigent.
Whatever the motives, here we are. Neither side can give in without losing credibility, so we’re left with a staring contest.
In sane times, compromise is sought. That’s how political business used to be done in the United States. But these aren’t sane times. Politics has been elevated to the level of religion now, and no one can compromise their religion. The Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate this development. They banned religious tests for office, guaranteed everyone the right to religious freedom, and provided that there would be no state church. But they didn’t foresee that politics would become religion, and it is understandable that they did not: it is really quite insane, all of it.
Yet let us imagine that we lived in a sane country. In such a country, compromise would be possible. Sure, there are profound moral issues that can’t be compromised. A representative cannot justifiably agree that a certain segment of the population will be enslaved so that he can get a military base in his district. But is the wall such an issue? I think not. Allow me to explain.
Our national psyche is still wounded by the sight of children in cages, and the two recent child deaths in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Our nation can never act in that manner again if we want to be considered anything resembling a Christian nation, or even a righteous one. But the wall is a different kind of issue. The problem with the wall isn’t that it will visit atrocities of that ilk, but that it’s plain stupid.
From 1990 to 2015, 182 illicit tunnels were discovered along the southern border.  And unless we’re going to station a border patrol agent every ten feet along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, now might be a good time to open a ladder franchise.If there was a serious effort being made to stop illegal immigration, the penalties for hiring undocumented workers would be much higher than they are. Right now, one can be incarcerated for up to six months if he has engaged in a pattern and practice of hiring illegal aliens.  That’s what one can get for a misdemeanor.
But they’re not serious. For companies which can’t move to other countries for the cheap labor, undocumented workers are the next best thing. Undocumented workers can’t complain if you underpay them, or decide on any given week not to pay them at all. And getting worker’s compensation can be complicated if you’re trying not to be noticed.
So we have the wall.
But would it be that bad? Sure, it would be a waste of money, and certainly an eyesore. But maybe the Democrats could get something in return, something that the people really need, something that could even save lives: something like universal healthcare. They can say, “Mr. President, we’ll help you fulfill your promise to build a wall, and you give us universal healthcare in return. Actually, you said during your campaign that you wanted universal coverage.  You don’t remember that? You absolutely did. So now you can fulfill two promises.”
If he balks at the proposal, the Democrats can walk away and say, “I guess he doesn’t think border security is that important.” On the other hand, with a sufficient level of cajolery and flattery, Mr. Trump might buy into it. He might even decide that it was his idea all along.
Of course, the Democrats would be more likely to demand government funding of abortions. But your humble servant can dream.
The icon of St. Joseph the Worker is by Daniel Nichols.