It's hard for me to understand how you can simultaneously believe that a border wall is a wicked policy and also will not work.

Surely the wickedness is in fact dependent on the effectiveness.
If you think walls don't work, then building a wall harms basically nobody.

But if you think the wall is harming migrants somehow, then you presumably believe that walls work, right?
"But Lyman the wall is a symbol!"

We already have physical barriers across a huge share of the border!

The symbol is already there!

This is just a debate about some extensions of it!
The question is not, "Should we have a border wall or not?" We have got at least some of one.

The question, the whole question, is, "Should we expand the border wall which already exists?"
"But Lyman it's a waste of money!"

Oh, darling.

If you want to shut the government down over $6 billion in ineffective spending, you're just an anarchist who never wants any government.
This is an interesting response and I'll take it seriously:

Waterboarding, which is torture, enacts its evil (pain) long before the desired outcome (information), and that outcome often does not manifest.
But a wall *only* inflicts its alleged evil (suffering in crossing, prevented crossing) *in the precise instant and to the extent that* it is effective. That is, it has no later desired outcome; the alleged wickedness (prevented entry/difficulty in transit) *is the goal*.
I'm not a partisan for the wall. I recognize that it is unlikely to be effective at all, which is the consensus of most academic literature on the subject.

But precisely the fact that it's not effective convinces me that, in real terms, it's not a big deal.
I'm happy to trade a meaningless wall with, in the grand scheme of things, a small price tag, for some other set of immigration reforms. I'll trade you the shiniest wall you ever did see for other reforms!
My understanding is such a deal was on the table, the President favored it, but then he changed his mind on it, which makes the present problem quite his fault. I don't know if that understanding is correct, but it's what I understand to be the case.
But the *rhetoric* I hear, that a wall is totally unacceptable, doesn't match what seems to be reality, which is that both sides have actually cast votes in recent months to extend the wall in exchange for some other reforms.
And this agreement is possible because informed people all understand that a wall is meaningful to many less informed people, but ultimately doesn't really hurt anybody.
In the meantime, stuff which could actually reduce illegal immigration is mostly technocratic stuff within executive discretion, for better or for worse.
I see lots of people all like "ITS A SYMBOL ITS A SYMBOL ITS A SYMBOL."


Symbolic politics are awful and you should not participate in them!
And yes I think populist Republicans are wrong too for cherishing this symbol so much!

It's ridiculous!

But the Republicans who want the wall *believe it will work*; they're at least consistent.
That is, your generic wall-loving GOP voter does not perceive of himself as engaging in symbolic politics. He thinks he is espousing a hard-nosed, practical, realistic solution. He may be quite wrong but he is coherent to me.
What perplexes me, what I find incoherent, is a person who *perceives themselves* to be engaged in purely performative, symbolic politics, *and endorses their own conduct*. And I am seeing that from many left-leaning responses.
I should also note that I don't take "but it violates property rights" seriously from anybody who favors a 90% marginal tax rate or nationalization of healthcare and education finance. Libertarians are free to make that complaint. All others are not.
"But it hurts the environment"

is a totally fair argument!

But I just don't believe that's really the source of outrage. Sorry, you're lying if you tell me this is all about migrations of small desert mammals or something.
"But Lyman, we don't negotiate with terrorists."

Okay first of all your fellow Americans aren't terrorists: something that must be said frequently to wacko America-haters on both sides of the aisle.
But the broader logic of not wanting to reward a destructive strategy I get!

In which case your argument is, "We caused the shutdown as a tactical decision to influence future political process choices."
And here's the thing.

I don't regard shutdowns as existential crises. America will be fine. I am willing to accept the argument that causing a shutdown is an acceptable political strategy for short-run tactical goals.
But if that's your argument, SAY IT!

"It's not about the wall, it's about demonstrating to the president that we are exactly as belligerent, determined, destructive, and insane as Republicans were when they were in opposition."
I actually regard that as a coherent response and one I can begrudgingly respect. Of course, I was roundly critical of and abhorred GOP conduct while in the minority: but many Republicans supported it.
I understand Democrats supporting tit-for-tat. I hoped for better, but it its no surprise to find Democrats of the exact same fiber as Republicans were for 8 years. Enjoy your tea party.
Oh one last argument.

"It's the intent that matters!"

Oh give me a freaking break, you naive, petulant child. Grow the heck up. Intentions do not matter in politics. You think we got civil rights because everybody loved rainbows?
Politics is the art of the possible, and often, you take policies intended for one thing and use them for another. You cobble together votes of people with widely varying intentions. Arguing about intentions is stupid.
If you insist on policing the *intentions* of your fellow Americans then I regret to inform you that people are often bad and you will never get anything done.
All this to say.

I don't support the wall.
I'm not even saying Democrats should cave.

I'm saying that the only rational justifications for holding out are:
1. Walls work
2. Tit-for-tat on Republican obstructionism
Make one or both of those arguments.
Okay one more.

"But Lyman, this makes us look so evil to the world around us! We look like such jerks!"

I'm sorry but if you think the big complaint the world has against America is a *fence* then *facepalm*.
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