Why Trump’s Border Attack Is Deeply Personal
Politics will always be personal, regardless of who is in power and when. Even if we’re not actively involved in partisan play with those who view and treat politics as a sport, we’re all affected by authority figures, their methods of leadership, and the results of their work.
That is, of course, if they’re even competent enough to perform.
This is especially true in the age of President Donald Trump, whose administration has expertly exploited everyday American identities for the sake of cultivating and maintaining the rich, white, cisgender power our society has historically promised them. Just ask the transgender servicemember now fearing discharge after years of service; the Somali-American who’s unsure whether their Muslim family members will be able to enter the U.S.; the separated Guatemalan child whose parents have disappeared into our flawed immigration system, just one instance of many immigrants coming to our borders only to be mistreated; or the Black teen possibly trying to remain calm in the presence of a MAGA cap–wearing adult who is still angry about the fate of the Confederacy.
When seemingly every racial, sexual, or gender minority is under attack right now by a self-identified “nationalist” leader and his arguably like-minded followers, it’s particularly hard to civically sit this unprecedented moment in American history out and think it doesn’t involve you or someone you know. It certainly involves me, a queer Mexican-American millennial originally from Eagle Pass, Texas, which is along the U.S.-Mexico border. You’ve probably seen my town in the news lately — it’s directly across the Rio Grande from where a Central American caravan arrived last week.
But in all actuality, it’s Trump and his cohorts who are the ones really engaged in this calculated game of Marginalization Bingo, because they’re constantly selecting disenfranchised communities to play with, in the hope of winning the ultimate prize: supremacy. And Trump’s White House is currently going for broke — literally — with its proposed multi-billion-dollar border wall. Neither the longest government shutdown in U.S. history nor the perpetually teased “national emergency” has been reason enough for right wingers to cease supporting a man who appears unfazed by brown hurt.
Trump has spent his political career denigrating Mexicans, advocating for his discriminatory wall, and calling my home “the very dangerous southern border,” a place that apparently must be controlled for the sake of protecting white America. I have a strong feeling that Trump’s notably xenophobic advisor, Stephen Miller, is part of this overarching plan to divide and conquer, with sadly no sign of meaningful pushback from White House officials. The New York Times even reported that Trump sought Miller’s counsel ahead of last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, which is where the president actually said, “Walls work and walls save lives.”
That is, of course, after he vowed that night that he’d finally build his “big, beautiful” structure, on the kind of American soil that his designer shoes would hardly recognize. Well, that is until this week.
After misleading the American people by saying El Paso was historically one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, and that it became one of the safest because of the supposed efficacy of existing fencing, the president was scheduled to set foot there Monday, February 11, to begin his re-election campaign — likely by drumming up support for a taxpayer-funded wall that 60% of Americans don’t want. This comes almost four years after Trump initially vowed to have Mexico pay for the barrier that it, as a government, condemns.