Instead of the “Great Wall of Democracy” we’ll be getting a plain old barrier

Forrest Johnson

The debate over immigration has revealed that as a nation we are woefully short of walls.

We have hemmed ourselves in with the most expensive health care, a needy president, endless military expenditures, the whimsy of the free market and income inequality and a belief that deception is truth. In terms of walls, moats, barriers, speed bumps or impediments meant to keep us in and them out, we are in league with small Third World nations when it comes to defensive gestures such as walls around our borders.

Now we’ve got our eyes on the big leagues of walled or gated nations but once again we’ll be doing it on the cheap. A creative and attractive border wall for $20 billion? Hah. A nation that’s been to the moon and back will settle for the economy model just watch and see.

You certainly don’t make America great again with a half-assed wall.
Back in 2007 passage of the Secure Fence Act authorized several billion dollars to start ensuring our place in history with a 700 mile wall that would rival other walls in history in terms of mileage. It turned out to be a dud. Just a wall separating one side from the other.

Now in 2017, believers of the Celebrity Apprentice and the New Conservative Neanderthal Party have crowed that this wall will be HUGE. It could go all the way. It will be a statement of who we are as a people.

Yeah, right.

Once again we’ll be going for quantity, not quality, for our wall. It will be soulless and indistinguishable. Just a stupid wall. Not reflective of us as the Beacon of Freedom and Innovator of Walls.
I’m a little ashamed of the effort, actually. If we’re going to build a wall along our southern border, let’s build a great wall. Something that shows our national character, our willingness to be innovative against all odds. Something functional, yet artistic. Something to be proud of.

Forget the flimsy chain link fence with razor wire on top, forget the pilings driven into the ground and the sheet steel.

Let’s build a wall, a Make America Great Again Wall.

All great empires that have walled themselves in have become lasting footnotes in the history books. Our wall will look like it came from Walmart or Home Depot. It will lack character and panache. It will be dull. Where’s the craftsmanship?

Where there is no fence, the border will be patrolled by drones. How impersonal is that?

In 2007 there were 106 miles of fence along the 1,952 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Now there is a barrier, ramshackle in places, of 700 or so miles. If we can’t build something functional and graceful, why build anything at all? Maybe we should just take it all down, save our money and leave it for more creative future generations to build.

The math doesn’t look favorable that we’ll ever fully protect ourselves from intrusions from the south. And if we keep pushing such favoritism towards Mexico it will only be a matter of time before Canada says, “Hey, what about us? We want a wall, too.”

The U.S.-Canada border stretches 5,525 miles, that’s 8,891 kilometers for those of you thinking in metrics. Perhaps our two nations, bound in a union closer than any two cultures, could think big and work together on a monument that could make the Great Wall of China look like a backyard fence.

Nope, we’re spending our money, alone, on a half-baked scheme to wall ourselves off from Mexico in an artless attempt to keep out potential terrorists as well as illegal immigrants. Others like me aren’t impressed by our efforts. “Show me a 50-foot wall,” said former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, “and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”

As long as we’re on the path to building a very standard barrier I’m surprised that we haven’t talked of outsourcing the building of the wall to control costs. Forget Made In America. If we can’t make a great wall why would we even put our label on the thing?

Perhaps we could help control the immigration problem by having the illegal immigrants and potential terrorists themselves build the wall for us. There could be jobs for years to come and we’d know right where a good number of those “bad hombres” and radical Islamists are at any given moment.

We could also hire the needed migrant farm laborers and other low-paid workers so much of our economy has hidden from view “...right at the wall.” Mobile, U.S. government-authorized employment offices could be set up near the wall, providing ample work opportunities for any and all who approach the area in search of honest labor. It won’t pay much more than picking beans but perhaps any illegals hired could even earn a few points toward U.S. citizenship for working on the wall intended to keep them out. After extreme vetting, of course.

As long as we’re not going to build the Great Wall of Democracy, let’s at least try to solve a nagging immigration problem while we build a plain old boring barrier.