An Iraq war veteran named Brian Kolfage has started a campaign on popular crowdfunding website GoFundMe, with the goal or raising one billion dollars to erect a wall on America’s southern border. When I went to sleep last night it had raised ten million dollars and this morning it is almost at twelve million. Kolfage is a triple amputee and the co-founder of veteran branded coffee products, as well as being an avid Trump supporter who is frustrated by the delays in building the wall on Mexico’s border.
On a personal level, I’ve never regarded the building of the wall as more than security theater mixed with the three-ring circus that is American politics. It’s a horse and pony show revolving around a piece of infrastructure that would give many the illusion of security because it is something they can physically see. People still sneak across the most heavily militarized borders in the world. Perhaps segments of a wall should be built in specific urbanized areas, but the answer to our border security issues probably lies in a combination of security measures — such as buried seismic sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, and hiring more border patrol officers.
But that said, there is one undeniable fact: a huge number of tax paying American citizens demand that our government construct the wall. While President Trump falsely promised his supporters that Mexico would pay for it, nearly 200,000 thousand people (as of 21DEC19) have made private voluntary monetary contributions to the GoFundMe campaign. Despite paying federal taxes, they are willing to open up their wallets again and chip in more money towards getting it done.
I think this raises several interesting questions. One of them is regarding the legitimacy of our government in the eyes of our citizens. Academics and media pundits (such as the editorial board at the New York Times regarding our withdrawal from Syria) offer their opinions which are often out of touch with the leanings of average Americans. If we are to be honest with ourselves, they have a point. From 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 housing crisis, our experts are frequently wrong. Meanwhile, citizens are demanding something of their elected officials, something they have not followed through on. Politics have repeatedly prevented the tightening of our border security going back multiple administrations.
A small section of wall was built during the Bush administration. The Obama administration appeared to want a horse trade with Republicans, trading border security for amnesty of current illegal aliens. The Trump administration promised a wall but has been unable to deliver, the promise seeming even more far-fetched now that Republicans have lost control of Congress. And yet, voters want the wall.
Another interesting question is whether or not we are looking at the future of governance, via some sort of voluntary opt-in option in which citizens choose to fund the features of government which they support. Granted, this particular GoFundMe is a bit of a gag or gimmick and no one has ever crowdfunded one billion dollars before. However, the underlying feelings behind it should not be dismissed so easily. Imagine a future where instead of being involuntarily taxed that individual citizens voluntarily pay into programs to build roads, bridges, maybe even to fund wars. Endeavors that they don’t support would never receive the funds to get off the ground. Projects that become untenable over time, like say a war in Afghanistan, would be quickly defunded. I suppose this is a concept that anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists alike would enjoy.
As for now, we’ll keep an eye on Brian’s “we the people will build the wall” campaign… out of curiosity, if nothing else.