Why is a border wall such a polarising issue in American politics?

  • I don't understand why this is such a big deal. Many countries around the world have a hard border with a physical barrier in place to stop illegal crossing/smuggling. It doesn't seem inherently unreasonable that the US has one as well, especially given the border with Mexico is well known for illegal crossing and drug smuggling.

    Why is this seemingly normal function of government seen as such a contentious issue that it's worth shutting down the government for, and what do the Democrats have to gain politically from the continued illegal activity on the border? Surely Democrats are equally affected by the criminal behaviour as well(?).

    They could make a deal and get something that would make a real material difference to the electorate, and I don't see why they're going to the mat for this.

    Comments deleted. Comments should be used to provide constructive criticism to the question or to add relevant meta-information. They are not for answering the question or for debating the subject matter of the question.

    Is this question is about American politicians or Americans? Some of the phrasing seems to suggest politicians.

    Comments removed. Please do _not_ attempt to answer the question in comments. If you feel you can answer the question, do it properly.

    Many countries have a hard border? I think you need to provide some examples, I know only of china's wall. - And the romanian border. However they're all criticesed, with the US in the past being the strongest opponent of a wall splitting countries (berlin wall, famous "ich bin ein berliner" speech was against the idea of building walls).

    @paul23 I thought so as well, but it turns out border barriers aren't that uncommon. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_barrier#List_of_current_barriers.

    @yannis That list contains less than 40 barriers for a grand total of 20,000 km (about 12,000 miles). There are a little less than 200 counties in the world. Based on this there are something like nearly 450 unique land borders and roughly 250,000 km of land borders. Maybe not completely uncommon, but definitely a small proportion. Most of those barriers are small. Like a few hours of biking length.

    Would you accept an answer which argued that a border wall is not actually a polarizing issue for American politics, but rather the polarization was already in place and the border wall issue was primarially a crystalization out of that existing polarization? Such an argument steps away from the issue of the wall itself and would focus more on the personal styles of the major players.

    While a question about why the Wall is such a polarizing issue in the US is entirely valid, this Question contains a lot of pointed rhetoric, rather than asking the question in a neutral manner. It contains talking points about the walls being normal (they are in fact uncommon) and stating that a wall is a normal function of the government (which is not established). The question currently conveys a sense of trying to push towards a particular answer, that the US is wrong to make the Wall a contentious issue. Questions should be asked as neutrally as possible.

    “what do the Democrats have to gain politically from the continued illegal activity on the border” Could you please clarify why you are assuming A) the wall is opposed by all (and only by) Democrats B) that this is because they have something "to gain politically from the continued illegal activity on the border" [citation needed]? Thank you.

    The phrase **"_they're_ going to the mat for this"** seems needlessly biased. It would be more correct to say that *both sides* are "going to the mat".

  • Joe

    Joe Correct answer

    2 years ago

    The border wall is polarizing because Donald Trump wants it, and Donald Trump is a polarizing figure.

    This is a cynical answer, but I think it’s actually more accurate than the other answers, which attempt to discuss the relative merit of the border wall as a policy. The thing is, the merit of a border wall as a policy has been whatever it has been for many years, but widespread opposition to the border wall has only started since Donald Trump started talking about it.

    This article shows that a number of polls going back to 2006 (when a border fence was originally authorized by Congress) showed broad support for a barrier, until Donald Trump entered the Presidential race: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/americans-used-support-border-wall-what-changed-their-minds

    Also perfectly explains why Obamacare was so controversial back in the day: Obama wanted it, so Republicans were against it. Few people actually had specific issues with the program.

    @JonathanReez I’m not so sure, because at least there had been prior policy discussions about various other healthcare schemes and polling of them showed that the country was divided on them before the ACA was proposed. However, there are definitely other examples of this dynamic one could find that involve Obama or George W. Bush (who were both polarizing Presidents not named Trump). Pretty much any form of questionably-constitutional executive power now seems to suffer this sort of treatment. Also, attitudes toward Putin’s Russia (all three attempted some rapprochement early in their terms)

    @JonathanReez - As for Obamacare, no, the Republicans had rejected the idea of government-sponsored or single-payer health care for a long time before Obamacare was proposed. Also, Obamacare affects the health and taxes of US citizens. A border wall does not, at least not directly or nearly as much.

    @Joe - Correct. Most Democrats are on record as opposing illegal immigration and supporting a border wall long before Trump made it one of his key campaign issues (even going back to Reagan's Amnesty in the 1980s).

    @DavidRTribble Maybe many republicans had, but things like the Healthy Americans Act suggest that not all of them felt that way. It was much more a real single-payer plan than Obamacare, and had numerous Republican co-sponsors, including even Committee Head Grassley (the same guy who later said Obamacare would "pull the plug on Grandma"). Notably, that was in 2007. When it was reintroduced in 2009 after Obama took office, two thirds of the Republicans who backed it in 2007 no longer did so.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM