Tim Marshall, British author of the excellent 2018 book ‘Divided, why we’re living in an age of walls,’ described the planned US-Mexico wall as being a product of the push to the right by conservative columnist Ann Coulter.
Mr Marshall reminded his readers in the outline of the chapter on the US wall that fellow author Ms Coulter had drawn up a plan for US President Trump’s first 100 days in office. It read: day 1: build the wall, day 2: check on the wall, and so on.
Two years on, and many are starting to wonder whether it was indeed Ms Coulter’s latest tweet that pushed the President over ‘the wall’ and into a ‘shutdown’
Approximately 380,000 civil servants at nine of the fifteen ministries have been sent home because they are not performing ‘essential tasks.’ Another 420,000 others have to keep working to keep the country’s essential services running, but are not paid.
Those 800,000 Americans and their families are the biggest victims of the shutdown in the US now that Senators were unable to agree on a budget Friday evening. According to the White House, the closure could last until January.
President Trump maintains that he should be allocated $5 billion for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico. Democrats continue to refuse.
Nevertheless, the third shutdown since Trump took office was avoidable. The Democrats were prepared to give to $1.6 billion for border security and the construction of a fence. On Tuesday, President Trump said he was ready to agree with an emergency budget that would keep the government running until February.
In Trump we trust
But last Thursday, the president changed his mind. That change came right after a series of statements by conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
It was especially Coulter's attack that hit home hard. In the summer of 2016, during the campaign for the presidential election, she had published a book about her then preferred presidential candidate entitled ‘In Trump we trust.’
In that manuscript, she described Trump as a 'tasteless billionaire attention-grabber,' but all that she was willing to forgive as compensation for his plans for a hard immigration policy. "Whatever Trump does, it will be forgiven. There is however one exception: if he should change his position on immigration,” she claimed.
Last week, Ms Coulter apparently got the impression that President Trump was planning exactly that.
In a column, she called him a ‘gutless President in a Wall-less country.’ According to her, this wall is necessary because politicians have done nothing for decades against 'the millions of illegal immigrants who enter our country every year, commit crimes, deal drugs, drive drunk, molest children and kill Americans'.
In a radio interview, she threatened not to vote for Trump in 2020 if he did not keep his promise to build the wall. "Nor the majority of his supporters either. I mean why would you," she declared, predicting that Trump's term could be commemorated as "a mockery of a presidency that deceived the American population."
Republican Senator Bob Corker, who did not run for re-election, connected the dots between those statements and Trump's sudden change of heart: "This is tyranny by radio presenters, right? Do we have to give in to that tyranny?"
Most columnists now agree that Trump at that moment also concluded it was time to draw a line and stand up for …. the wall.
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