Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump has clamored for a wall to be built on the southern border of the United States. The plan is problematic and his intransigent stance on the issue has resulted in a government shutdown.
Trump’s characteristics can explain the vacuous conceptualization of his plan. According to many news reports, Trump is intellectually lazy — he spends much of the day watching television and his briefings are short, bulleted presentations. This laziness is exemplified by his tenuous grasp of policy when speaking unscripted. Trump comes from a sales/marketing background, relying on easily digestible concepts and hyperbole — “build the wall,” “lock her up,” “fake news.” He is also impulsive and makes promises extemporaneously.
This combination of characteristics resulted in a simplistic, reactive slogan (“build the wall”) rather than a thoughtful, detailed policy. Trump’s changing claims on the source of funding for the wall is proof of its flimsy intellectual basis — “Mexico will pay for the wall,” “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying,” “Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal.”
Relatedly, the constant turnover of administrative staff complicates matters. It is hard to develop consistent, long-term policies when the people developing those policies are in constant flux.
There are undoubtedly problems at the southern border that require policy solutions. However, in this case, it feels like President Trump is trying to find a problem to fit the need of an ill-conceived, empty promise.
Jeb Blain, Bakersfield