September 19, 2021

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Wall of Words: Trump and the Democrats Face Off Across A Philosophical Border

by | Jan 9, 2019 |

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It’s a new day in America. We have returned to a government digging its heels in. Populist outsider Donald Trump fights against the establishment, a growing army of politicians assisted by a ratings hungry media attempts to isolate him and his agenda from the American people.

There’s a philosophical wall between President Donald Trump and the Democratic leadership headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. That wall is about whether and how the federal government of the United States should secure its border.

The President wishes to create a tangible and credible deterrent that materially changes the politics and economics of crossing it to a mode where illegal activity is minimized. He asked for assistance from Congress to do so in his State of the Union address on January 30, 2018.

Following that address, Congress passed a budget that contained nothing of what the President asked for. Instead, Congress sent the President the 2019 Budget in September that make Trump swallow a bitter pill to get the Defense Department funded and kicked the can down the road on the border for a showdown in December 2019.

The political maneuver made Trump recoil in disgust and swear that he would never let Congress do that to him again.

Well it came to be December 2019 and Congress tried to do it again. With no “can’t do without it” budget appropriation to force Trump to sign it, Congress attempted to put in little more than lip service budgeting to border security; something that the White House had strongly signaled was a “never again” move.

The result was a partial government shutdown beginning on December 22, 2018 furloughing around 800,000 federal workers out of a civil service workforce of 2.79 million. That’s worth about $2 billion in missing paychecks every two weeks according to US Office of Personnel Management. Trump’s wall would cost $5.7 billion, roughly six weeks of the affected workforce’s payroll.

Let’s be frank. That’s not a lot of money for America. Particularly so in the context of the societal costs of the presently less secure border system that the President stated was around $500 billion a year, almost as much as the defense budget. So why are the Democrats continuing to kick the can down the road at each turn? Surely, it’s not about the money.

I am reminded of the besieging of another president against whom another establishment army determined to thwart his quest to save the soul of his nation, Abraham Lincoln. The analogy isn’t as far off as you think. The question in Lincoln’s time was whether to let go of the United States of America as the founding fathers envisioned it or fight to preserve it. We see America divided arbitrarily again, this time not North vs. South, but Coastal vs. Heartland. The vision at stake is the same, should America as we know it be abandoned.

This is the elephant in the room that establishment Washington does not want to face. The thing that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Chuck Schumer “disagree” with President Donald Trump about what to do.

Trump is clearly trying to preserve traditional America. It’s clear he is sincere in his belief that his call to Make America Great Again is something he believes and that he is doing everything he can to bring that vision to fruition. He is being opposed blindly at every turn.

Pelosi and Schumer also want to preserve their version of America. Theirs is a one of an establishment political class that acts as the caretakers of America reigning over ordinary Americans as willing vassals of the land. It’s a rose-colored vision of Democratic Camelot. One where importing willing vassals to outnumber unwilling traditionalists is a good thing.

But I’m not so sure that establishment America isn’t about to see this blow up in their face.

The Democratic Party is flush with a new crop of representatives and senators who would change America even more than them. In their America, traditional American culture is the enemy to be wiped away without mercy. Bringing in immigrants to help make that change happen is about the only thing they have in common with their establishment cousins.

The change metaphor can be stated another way. Tradition minded Americans are the new native Americans and the immigrants are coming not to assimilate but to settle on the land and eventually send the traditional Americans off to reservations.

The new breed will all be Democrats of course. Or so Pelosi and Schumer think. Me I’m not so sure. I worry that, just like the Europeans discovered a century ago, catastrophic revolution is more likely as social cohesion erodes into animus. These things do have a predictable pattern.

Me? I’m really not of a mind to take that much of a risk on losing the core of American culture. I see too much value in it for this country and for the world. American pluralism that respects Americans founding values as the most important beacon for human rights and liberty on this planet. It’s something worth preserving.

Compared to kicking the can down the road endlessly on border security, I see much more merit in the principles of Donald Trump’s approach of securing the border to create the equivalent of what US immigration history in the 20th century called the “immigration pause” where people from Europe stopped coming in large numbers. This slowdown in people coming to America in the early 20th century enabled assimilation.

More important, it enabled the adoption of traditional American culture to take root in the second and third generations of immigrants. It facilitated a Great America culture that would eventually save the world from the Axis and planted the seeds for a view of universal human rights that would see the United States experiment with something called the Great Society.

What’s not to see in the merit of an America that sees that securing the border is about securing the viability of our culture? Why shouldn’t ordinary Americans, including the 2.79 million federal civil service employees and the 5 million federal contractors that work with them let Congress know that preserving the Nation’s culture means something to them.

Personally, I’d pick up the phone and call Congress and tell them to spend the measly $5.7 billion already and see where it goes.

Now if only Donald Trump could Tweet a Gettysburg Address of his own.


Dennis Santiago is an author and commentator on national policy and global stability issues. His subject matter expertise was developed during the Cold War as a strategic warfare systems analyst, missile defense architect, and arms control analyst. He is the author of the US Imperfect Defense Theory of Strategic Missile Defense. Dennis has worked on conventional warfare, nuclear warfare, and asymmetric warfare. His expertise includes combat aircraft, ordnance, electronic warfare, command and control, campaign design, and game theory.

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