Opinion: Wall scuffle shows pitiful state of American discourse

Mike Banerian
This is the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Las Playas on January 6, 2019 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. government is going into the third week of a partial shutdown with Republicans and Democrats at odds on over President Donald Trump's demands for more money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This week the president addressed the nation regarding the government shutdown and the need to build a wall at the southern border. Through the endless squabbling between Democrats and Republicans on social media over the wall (myself included), I found myself incredibly frustrated by something far more concerning, the inability for Americans to have an intellectual discussion on important issues.

The arguments made by the Democrats regarding the wall and immigration reform is one such area of concern. As far as the border wall goes, a barrier along parts of our southern border would clearly stem the flow of illegal crossings. We know this because we already have barriers in some areas on our border, and those areas have seen a 90 percent reduction in illegal crossings.

Democrats also argue that such immigrants will find another way around, an argument with little merit considering that’s kind of the point. Building out these barriers purposefully funnels illegal crossings into narrow choke points that are significantly easier to patrol with more agents, and therefore easier to catch those who are crossing illegally.

Next is the argument that most people  in America without legal permission don’t cross the border illegally, but overstay their visas, therefore we shouldn’t fund a wall. This argument doesn’t make much sense. Since when do we only peruse policy only when it solves 100 percent of a problem? We don’t. We pass policies that help reduce a problem, and the wall is a proven concept that will help reduce the problem by the hundreds of thousands.

Finally, the Democrats make the moral case. This is a flawed argument for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that the Democrats have repeatedly voted for a border wall and border security in the past. The wall is a reasonable aspect of border security, and the security of our borders is our right as a sovereign nation; a right that every other country in the world takes advantage of and takes far more seriously than America.

This points to the larger issue, Americans now seem to only argue important issues by discrediting the individual making the argument, rather than discrediting the argument itself. This is exactly what Democrats in Congress have done on the issue of immigration, and we are worse off for it. Democrats have employed this tactic because discrediting an argument is far too much work, especially when Americans on both sides have become so lazy in their ability to formulate informed opinions on important subjects.

Our free society must be able to have intellectual discussions on areas of disagreement in order to survive, and this applies to every issue. I’m sure you can point to other issues where Republicans have employed this abhorrent tactic, and you’d probably be right. So, here’s my message to everyone, let’s all get off our high horses from which we’ve come to disregard people’s arguments based on our uniformed perception of their character, and actually have a discussion, the survival of this nation depends on it.

Mike Banerian is a former vice chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and 2016 Presidential Elector.