There's Still a Path to the Wall

There's Still a Path to the Wall
AP Photo/Elliott Spagat, File
There's Still a Path to the Wall
AP Photo/Elliott Spagat, File
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Those of us who care deeply about the 2016 movement led by Donald Trump should not equivocate about the near-term damage inflicted by last week’s political events.  Though Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls only one-half of one-third of our federal government, her tactics, plus the unanimity of her caucus, imperil the central animating objective of the America First electoral ascent: The Wall.

In her Machiavellian disregard for the personal, economic, and national security of Americans, she correctly ascertains that allowing large-scale construction of Trump’s wall all but assures his re-election in 2020.  After all, Trump’s leadership on the economy, judicial appointments, and a restrained foreign policy already more than justify another term.  However, the unfinished business of border security remains a cornerstone of that goal. 

Pelosi and her allies, therefore, have suddenly determined that physical barriers are “immoral” even though, for decades, Democrats gladly supported hundreds of miles of barricades.  To paraphrase the words of their former Capitol Hill colleague John Kerry, they were for walls before they were against them.  What Pelosi’s party actually stands against is … allowing a major victory for the president, regardless of the harm their obstinacy inflicts on American citizens.

Despite these significant obstacles, a path exists for the administration to both secure our country’s border and advance the 2020 re-election cause.  But the coming days and weeks will be mission critical. 

First, the White House must pursue a détente over shutdown politics. Elections have consequences, and the ruling House Democrats now find zero motivation to facilitate a wall.  Yes, they will give lip service to boundary “security” and perhaps even isolated pockets of “smart fencing,” but they will thwart any real wall except perhaps as a trade for massive, untenable amnesties for illegal aliens.  Consequently, the administration should use this three-week window to obtain as much productive funding as possible for immigration personnel and facilities, but then move past the losing game of shutdown brinkmanship. 

Instead, President Trump must embark upon a steady and determined effort to build the wall without the Congress.  During this needed public calm, law enforcement experts and administration attorneys can determine the most efficacious logistical and legal frameworks for large-scale wall construction by executive action this year.  Both long-standing precedent and statutory specifics validate presidential power to protect our homeland unilaterally.  The National Emergencies Act of 1976, for example, was used by President Obama in 2015 to declare unrest in Burundi a U.S. “national emergency.”  Surely, the border of Brownsville matters far more to our country than the border of Burundi, a country most Americans would have difficulty finding on a map. 

Nonetheless, activist judges are sure to contest the wall aggressively, requiring a robust legal counter-attack.  In addition, the administration must stand ready to assert the supremacy of the executive branch on matters of security when challenged by unconstitutional bench edicts from the likes of the Ninth Circuit. 

Just as important, during the period of détente with the legislative branch, the administration must persuade the public of the dire threats a lawless border presents to the peace and prosperity of our nation.  An all-out public relations effort should commence, with presidential interviews, Cabinet member op-eds, and town-hall-style events featuring those hurt most by our porous border.  The campaign can highlight the many brave Hispanic American agents of Customs and Border Protection and also angel moms like Mary Ann Mendoza, whose policeman son Brandon Mendoza was killed by a previously convicted illegal alien who was not deported.  

Such a composed and careful approach will advance the cause of border security far more than endless dueling between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.  President Trump was indeed elected, in large part, to disrupt the comfortable cabal of cronies who dominate our capital. But the turbulence must also arrive at tangible results, or else the constant agitation will exhaust the patience of the people.  Looking ahead to 2020, the president must prove to the voters that his pugnacity has purpose.  He fights, and fights hard, but not just for the sake of confrontation itself, but rather to achieve otherwise unattainable results – such as the promised border wall.

If extensive wall construction is not well underway by re-election time, no amount of messaging skill can compensate for that void.  In addition, the GOP is unlikely to face an opponent as utterly corrupted and unlikable this time around as Hillary Clinton.  Therefore, the wall represents not only a key tool to reclaim our land’s long-neglected national sovereignty, but also a political imperative for November 2020.  

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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