December 17, 2018; Arizona Republic
President Trump is reported to have backed off his threat to shut down the federal government in response to the refusal from Congress to organize the votes to pay for the border wall. In fact, congressional leaders even balked at supporting the funding of a $1 billion “slush fund” to support general security upgrades at the border of the president’s choice.
His retreat may have saved us all from national embarrassment. New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin wrote a column floating the notion of a national crowdfunding campaign on Saturday, one presumably in the range of $8 billion to $67 billion.
Later, he told Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade he believed the idea had legs: one reader, he said, wrote in to say, “If the 63 million people who voted for Donald Trump each contributed $80, that would get you near the $5 billion mark.” Another enthusiastic commenter said, “All someone has to do is start, and I guarantee money will flow in like the thousands of illegal immigrants bum rushing the border.”
But, cautions Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic, Arizona has traversed this ground before. Back in 2011, Governor Jan Brewer and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature declared that if the Feds wouldn’t build a 372-mile fence, then they’d raise the money—then estimated at $50 million—from donors to do so themselves. Six years later, the fund was closed having raised $270,000. At the time the failed effort launched, then-Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said, “I call this Extreme Home Makeover: Border Security Edition. Instead of a family in need, it’s a country in need, and people are willing to step up to help.”
Goodwin is carrying this dream forward. “I think that’s the kind of thing that needs to happen,” he said, suggesting that one might even sell advertising on it. “It could be a People’s Wall.” “The important thing is,” Goodwin says, “the public could step in and effectively do this thing that the president wants.”
Roberts writes, in response, “I can see it now. Advertisers lining up to put their logo on a wall along Arizona’s remote rugged desert stretches, especially if their target audiences are rattlesnakes or drug mules.”
One thing is for sure: None of the $1.75 million that remains from the Trump Foundation would be directed to that campaign.—Ruth McCambridge