Wall nut

8. He has pursued a disastrous border policy

DT hates immigrants. One might be more specific and say that he hates immigrants who aren’t independently wealthy white Europeans, but there aren’t very many of those who are itching to move to the United States, so the qualification is unnecessary. Over the last four years, he has transformed U.S. immigration policy from flawed but functionality into something that is, by any measure but that of the xenophobe, a complete failure. From his Islamophobic ban on Muslim immigrants to his terming African nations “shithole countries,” his racism has been front and center as he tore down tenet after tenet of longstanding American policy on immigration. Among the ruinous actions he’s taken, none has been more malign than the strategy he has pursued along the border with Mexico.

Like the swindler he is, DT promised his crowd something he knew he couldn’t deliver: a wall. To be fair, he has delivered bits and pieces of the wall, mostly in the form of butt-ugly, environmentally devastating steel fences that are shoddily built and easily breached by scaling or tunneling. One section is so unstable that it may soon topple over. Others are already rusting out. Some sections were built by diverting funding from the military, meaning that our armed forces are less well-equipped to deal with actual threats, should any arise. Others were privately financed in haphazard, illegal ways, including one section that actually blocked access to a government-owned dam. Oops! Still others were supposed to be privately financed, but the donations sent by thousands of gullible DT supporters were instead used for boats, SUVs, and other luxury items by a group of crooks, notably former DT aide Steve Bannon. But the wall is nowhere near finished, and even if (God forbid) DT gets another four years, it never will be. No one with the slightest clue thinks it will be.

Nor should it. The whole idea of the wall is asinine—a cynical ploy to exploit the racist fears of uninformed Americans who mistake anecdote for evidence in thinking that immigrants from south of the border are taking our jobs, raping our daughters, and otherwise proving detrimental to our blissful lives in the land of the free. News flash: two thousand miles of rugged terrain, replete with deserts, cliffs, rivers, and ravines cannot be secured by walls or fences. Not at a cost that can be borne, at any rate. Writing such a project into public policy is the worst kind of boondoggle: it would enrich a few people and impoverish a whole nation, and it would fail to achieve its purported objective.

Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans…these and other people from Latin America will continue to migrate to the U.S. as long as conditions in their home countries are so dire that they have no choice but to leave. Some of those conditions are the result of American foreign policy. And, as noted previously in this blog, the number of migrants will increase as the effects of climate change add to the political and economic woes of equatorial regions. Rather than wasting a dime on the fool’s errand of trying to block them at the border, we should receive them with as graciously as we know how, make them safe and welcome in their new home, and provide them with a path to citizenship. History shows that if we do that, they and their children will rapidly become integrated into the fabric of American society, and they will enrich our culture in the process. Meanwhile, we should correct our foreign policy to promote democracy abroad, instead of thwarting it, while increasing the southward flow of money, technology, and expertise to make other countries more livable; doing so will reduce the flow of migrants to a trickle. No way will any of that happen with DT in the White House.

The land of the lost

In addition to his half-assed attempts to build the wall, DT has waged war on immigrants in other ways. He has forced those seeking political asylum to apply for it before they enter the country—an impossibility for many, if not most, migrants fleeing life-threatening situations at home. He has overseen the transformation of ICE into a nightmarish gang of unaccountable thugs who use any means necessary to snatch undocumented migrants from their homes, workplaces, places of worship, then detain them in abominable conditions where they are subject to arbitrary beatings, torture, and medical malpractice. He has ordered the deportation of people who, while technically undocumented, have lived in the U.S. since infancy and don’t even speak the language of their mother country.

Most chillingly, he has instituted a strategy of separating migrant children from their parents. Sometimes the parents are deported, sometimes the kids, sometimes both—but always separately. This was a calculated change in policy designed to deter migrants with children from trying to enter the U.S. The result was the severing of all connection and communication between family members with no means of finding each other. To this day, hundreds of parents don’t know where their children are, and hundreds of children have been placed in unsafe conditions. Children held in cages, without bedding or medical care or even so much as toothbrush. Toddlers crying in the night for the parents and siblings they may never see again. This is the legacy of DT.

Reality denier

19. He has deliberately stalled the nation’s response to climate change

Despite what Amy Comey Barrett may say to avoid answering a question, climate change isn’t controversial. Although society’s response to it has engendered enormous controversy, the phenomenon itself is not; it was long ago proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. The basic mechanism behind it was first described almost 200 years ago, and alarm bells have been ringing for several decades now. To date, no disinterested scientist has presented one shred of credible evidence to counter either of two fundamental premises:

  • our planet is warming, and
  • human activity, specifically the large-scale emission of greenhouse gases, is the primary cause.

Predictably, various entities concerned about their short-term earnings have attempted to muddy the waters. Much money has been spent on a disinformation campaign intended to delay governmental action as long as possible, so as to maximize profit as long as possible. This delay has caused us to lose valuable time in addressing the problem. Now, due to 30 years of inaction and insufficient action, we are faced with a crisis of staggering proportions—the greatest challenge ever to face humanity. Exceptional leadership, not to mention much sacrifice, will be required to avert complete catastrophe.

America’s leaders do not have an impressive track record in addressing the crisis, thus far. President Bush the Elder at least acknowledged the problem. President Clinton took a baby step or two to address it. Bush the Younger’s record was shameful. President Obama’s leadership on this issue was inadequate, although he likely would have done more if he hadn’t been stymied by Congress. In 2016, he did sign on to the Paris Agreement, a too-little, too-late accord that nevertheless represented a foundation on which to build an effective global response. Then came the election of 2020 and a sneering, angry man with a pronounced disdain for science took over in the White House.

One of DT’s first actions as president was to announce the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. When the withdrawal takes effect next month—on Election Day (!)—the U.S. will officially join the company of eight other countries that aren’t on board with the agreement: Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Turkey, and Yemen. With the possible exception of Turkey, whose authoritarian leader he admires, those aren’t exactly countries that DT professes to like. Some are even what he calls “shit countries.” Funny that he should want the country he supposedly leads to be associated with them.

DT has spent the last four years publicly questioning the reality of climate change, ignoring what scientists are clearly telling him, and denying that there is a problem, let alone a crisis. While this has played well among the deeply gullible and the willfully ignorant who constitute his voter base, the clock has kept ticking, the planet has kept warming, and climate-fueled disasters have kept occurring. One wonders how many of those attending his super-spreader rallies have seen their homes destroyed by hurricanes or wildfires. Perhaps whatever flavor of Kool-Aid he’s served them blinds them to reality, even when tragedy strikes them personally. At any rate, one hopes there aren’t enough of them to grant him another four years. When it comes to climate change, it’s not only the U.S. that is directly threatened by the prospect of DT’s being reelected; it’s the whole world.

Migrations

One of the more startling ironies of this troubled age involves the connection between climate change and the migration of people. Opposition to immigration has become almost the sole province of the Republicans, and yet it is climate change, which Republicans steadfastly refuse to address, that will play an increasingly large role in large-scale migration to the U.S. over the coming years. As the planet continues to grow hotter (which it will do for the rest of the century, even if we take drastic action now to inhibit it), there will be mass movements of people away from the equator—e.g., the tropical regions that include half of Mexico and all of Central America—to temperature regions such as the U.S.

So yeah, let’s keep our heads in the sand, guys. No need to convert over to renewable energy—just keep building more of that wall. If they dare to breach it and sully the purity of America with their brazen desire for food, water, and shelter, we’ve got ICE and citizen militias to handle it.

(The preceding paragraph contains irony, a mode of communication that DT and his followers don’t appear to comprehend. More on that soon.)