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Monday, December 09, 2019

The GOP’s Unhealthy Fixation On Building New Walls

The following editorial appeared in the Kansas City Star on Friday, September 4:

If Republican presidential candidates were as fixated, say, on tall buildings or rockets or guns, we might turn to famed psychologist Sigmund Freud for some insight about what’s going on in their heads.

Instead, the Republican field is oddly fixated on walls.

It’s hard to know what to make of that. Even Freud would probably be stumped.

Most of the talk has focused on walling off the United States’ southern border with Mexico to stem the tide of undocumented immigrants that has Donald Trump especially hot and bothered. In reality, the actual number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has remained relatively steady for the last five years.

Until recently, the silliest part of the wall fixation was Trump’s insistence that he could get Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall. Then Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker upped the ante on Meet the Press by endorsing the discussion of a wall along America’s other land border with Canada as a “legitimate issue.”

To be fair, Walker didn’t raise the issue himself; anchor Chuck Todd did. But Walker’s response was what guaranteed the northern wall discussion would make news, even though that part of the interview didn’t air on television and was only available online.

“Why are we always talking about the southern border and a fence there?” Todd asked. “We don’t talk about a northern border — where, if this is about securing the border from potentially terrorists coming over.”

He then asked Walker if he would “build a wall on the northern border, too.”

“Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire,” Walker replied. “They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So, that is a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

Walker naturally tried to backpedal after ridicule was heaped on him. He said his comment was misconstrued, claiming he had not discussed “a wall of the north,” focusing instead on infrastructure, personnel and technology to secure the border.

“People should go back and actually watch what I said. I didn’t say that at all,” he said on Fox News.

Give Walker the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he misunderstood Todd’s question, or wasn’t sure how to respond to it. After all, if secure borders are important, surely it’s as important to secure the northern border as the southern border.

Maybe America could get a bulk discount on wall construction. The Canadian border is more than twice as long as the Mexican one, after all.

Meanwhile, the question of why the Republican field is more interested in building a wall between the U.S. and its Latino neighbors than between the U.S. and its Canadian neighbors could lead candidates into uncomfortable areas.

So could the unfortunate truth that — especially considering the antics of the current crop of presidential candidates — Canada just might be far more interested in securing its borders against us than the other way around.

(c)2015 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Illustration: Artist’s impression of U.S.-Mexico border wall (National Memo)


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