Democratic leaders are negotiating in bad faith, against good policy, and to lamentable results in the current border-wall-funding theater on Capitol Hill.

Set aside for now the realities that President Trump has played his pro-wall poker hand incredibly ineptly, that conservatives in general have badly overstated the relative importance of immigration-related policy, and that the Trumpian Right has cultishly turned “The Wall” into an item of absurdly talismanic significance. Those contentions can be handled in another column.

For now, what matters is that Democrats are refusing to vote for a funding bill otherwise to their liking, and thus shutting down about one-sixth of the government, for the sake not of principle but of cynical politics. They know border control of some sort is an important element of sovereignty. They know physical barriers work. They know Trump’s requested $5 billion is not exorbitant and can be spent effectively. And they at least pretend to believe that shutting down large parts of the federal government actually hurts people.

Other columns have amply demonstrated that many key Democrats have hypocritically changed their positions, without real explanations, on the importance of border security and the utility of walls as part of the mix. They have acknowledged that stopping illegal immigration is important in the fights against crime, illegal narcotics, and terrorism. They have said it is crucial to “get tough” against illegal crossings, and they were right.

Back before the boogeyman of Trump appeared, the argument among serious Democrats wasn’t whether border walls were good policy, but where. There are many spots along the Mexican border where a wall is less practical (if at all) than others, for reasons of cost, topography, or ecology. Democrats said it would be foolish to try to wall the whole border — but admitted that in some places, such as San Diego, walls work….

[The full column is at this link.]




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