As an employee of a daycare, I get a feeling of déjà vu whenever our president has to sit and eat his vegetables. He required a lot of “here comes the airplane” coaxing from his cabinet and advisers, but eventually, after throwing his broccoli at the wall, his spinach on the floor, and vomiting in the face of anyone trying to feed him, U.S. President Donald Trump manages to relent. His relegation of the wall to a national emergency is perhaps not getting him to chow down, but it is at least stopping the onslaught of legumes flying all around the room. And since the national emergency is clearly overstepping his constitutional power and has prompted countless lawsuits, Trump soon may have to finally chew and swallow. His recent threats to shut down the border are a sort of flip of the plate. Borne of a defeat and deeply rooted in insecurity about his dainty little hands, Trump is now demonstrating just how far he is willing to go in order to win an arbitrary pissing contest that endangers the economy of the entire country, something Trump frequently cites as his biggest concern and the biggest measure of a president’s success. By his own metric then, the threat to shut down the border is a failure; not only does it signal desperation from Trump in regards to immigration reform, but it also puts into jeopardy the very thing he claims to value the most, and the thing his supporters point to as his greatest policy-related merit.
Even the President’s closest allies recognize the folly in closing the southern border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said quickly after Trump’s remarks that such a decision could have a “potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country.” It remains to be seen whether McConnell will choose Trump or the well-being of the country, but it makes me uneasy that we have reason to worry about a decision that would be obvious if we were not dealing with an obstructionist with almost as little respect for the democratic process as he has integrity.
The intent of the whole affair is ambiguous at best. It’s unclear what Trump is trying to stop, or what crisis even exists at the border. Is it drugs he is worried about? Not that he would be receptive to reality, but cutting off trade with Mexico will not stop illegal border crossings by sea, plane, or avoiding border officials since they can not cover 1900 miles constantly. What about immigration? Stopping all immigration to the United States from Central and Southern Mexico relies on the assumption that immigration is a net bad when in reality, it’s a necessary stimulus to the economy. Maybe it’s one of the caravans he’s so worried about. You know, the ones that only show up near election cycles when he needs to revitalize his base. I would assume that the stunt is political by nature, but, considering the possible economic fallout of such a move, even the most die-hard Trump supporters will realize that it is not the fault of immigrants. And besides, if Trump can just close the border and stop all of these “problems,” what’s the point of a wall in the first place?
Trump seems to always find a way to top his last incompetent tirade. He’s an entertainer at heart, of course, but not the sort of entertainer with any talent or craft. He entertains sheerly through absurdity. I find myself much less entertained now than I was when he first descended the golden escalator in 2015. His actions are random, sporadic, and motivated by a paradoxical narcissism and insecurity. He is not rational, he is not normal, and he is not politically inspired. To think that the reins of power are in the hands of a man who is driven only by the constant hunger of his ego is not entertaining. It is scary, and what is even more terrifying is that it is uncertain whether he will be at the very least stopped by his own party, or if they will make another cowardly decision to follow Trump blindly into madness. Soon, the entire party will have to decide if they’re going to chew and swallow their vegetables or choke. I’m not sure which one I would prefer.