The Wall by The Donald and The Wall by Pink Floyd

The Pink Floyd rock opera, The Wall, can provide insight into how to examine and understand President Trump’s desire to build a wall along the border with Mexico. The lyrics, written by Roger Waters, add a different perspective to the building of a wall along the southern border of the United States. What does Trump want exactly and what does he think will happen once the wall is completed? Donald Trump has pushed for his wall since his Presidential campaign. On the one hand there is the need to actually go through the engineering and construction process and a realistic timeline of how long it would take if serious construction of something eventually agreed upon got off the ground. Then there is the aspirations of the wall’s impact, since that is the best that can be used to understand what happens next. At Christmastime people say “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men,” a nice aspiration, not really a goal, more of a sentiment. Then Christmas ends and thoughts and plans regarding New Year’s Eve start to bring out a whole different type of sentiment. Getting beyond Trump’s wall as imagery to a construction venture and then a completed project, is a long and twisting process. Now what happens to America? What happens in America? Aspiration is one thing, realistic goals another thing, the lofty aims put forth by many a politician about anything they propose, are interrupted by reality.

It may or may not be coming.

Pink Floyd released The Wall in 1979. Roger Waters co-founder of the group as well as songwriter, singer, bassist, apparently started seriously working on it in 1977. He became hostile, frustrated, cynical of the audiences watching the band perform. In one situation he spit at a fan. Now, more than four decades later he seems to have changed. As one reviewer of a performance wrote, “the rugged 74-year-old grins, air-punches and even seems to wipe a tear from his eye at the audience reception.” 1 The origins of the album go back farther than that, judging by lyrics that address his father, but it would appear that the greater motivation to actually do the album came in the mid-to-late 1970s. The Wall was seen as a rock opera, so a lengthy story put to music. As with Trump’s wall, the storyline of Pink Floyd’s The Wall is really about what is eventually achieved. “Another Brick in the Wall,” leads to the wall eventually completed and Pink, the character developed by Waters who is building the wall getting what he wants. Pink is secluded, isolated behind his wall and becomes severely depressed. Pink, the ever-consummate musician, will not perform and needs to be nudged back onto the stage with the help of a doctor and his drugs. The performance leads to hallucinations where Pink believes he is a fascist dictator and elements of what takes place on stage look like Nazi rallies. Be careful about what you wish for.

The Wall seen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

Donald Trump is somewhat specific about what his wall will achieve. There are numerous derogatory ways that he has expressed what his wall will accomplish. A typical tweet says it all, “We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world.” challenged Trump’s assertion about Mexico’s dangerous status ranking, pointing out that Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala had higher homicide rates. 2 To Trump supporters, however, as well as Trump himself, challenging Trump’s claim no doubt carried no water.

The wall is part of Trump’s larger Make America Great Again (MAGA) package deal. There is a similarity, however, with his approach toward health care reform where whatever he wants tends to go through a process of change that can leave a bewildered feeling among those trying to clearly understand what he wants, how he wants it done, and what it is supposed to accomplish. For example, regarding health care reform, during the campaign leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, Trump showed his support for the individual mandate, requiring everyone to have insurance which was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. Trump stated in February 2016, “Well, I like the mandate. Okay, so here’s where I’m a little bit different. I don’t want people dying on the streets. And I say this all the time.” 3 Very different than his statement as President in January 2018 where he said, “We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.” 4 The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, established that the penalty for not having health insurance is now zero. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that some thirteen million people will stop getting health insurance since their incentive to do so is now gone. We will need to wait until the end of 2019 to see if the CBO is correct in what will happen since the zero penalty policy only went into effect in 2019. People without health care insurance will not be seeking preventive care so the discovery of any health issues before they become a problem will increase for a number of Americans: Consequences follow poor policy planning.

In the opening part of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the lyrics go, “Is this not what you expected to see? If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes, You’ll just have to claw your way through the disguise.” We need to peal away layers, to see beyond what is in front of us. One can get the feeling that people, generally speaking, are behind walls but that there are people outside, beyond those walls. In the case of the wall, Trump version, he tweeted the “Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country.” 5  The Wall, Pink Floyd version, provides an interesting insight into Trump’s wall, where the imagery is that of clear separations, inside and outside. Unfortunately, in the case of Trump’s wall, imagery does not match reality.

One visual of Pink Floyd’s The Wall

Donald Trump creates the impression that his wall will provide some separation between us and them. The use of “us” and “them” is important to his vision. Some of this imagery, however, does not come from what he expects the wall to achieve but, for example, how he shows his disdain for people he has dealt with in business dealings. Omar Qaddafi, the former leader of Libya, had little in the way of positive attributes as the leader of a country, but an interesting statement was made by Trump regarding dealing with him. Trump stated:

I dealt with Qaddafi. I rented him a piece of land. He paid more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land. That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word “screwed”, but I screwed him. That’s what we should be doing. 6

Trump used the word “screwed” elsewhere, when he discussed his upbringing. Regarding his father he said:

[He was] strong and tough as hell…[and] an unbelievably demanding taskmaster. We had a relationship that was almost businesslike. That’s why I am so screwed up, because I had a father that pushed me pretty hard. 7

The wall which Trump wants is more than just about what he sees as good for America, but also about himself and his personality. James David Barber who wrote about Presidential character stated, “The President’s fundamental self-esteem is his prime personal resource.” 8 In the case of Trump he brings his personality, his fantasies, to building the wall and what it is expected to achieve. In The Art of the Deal, Trump wrote (or rather his ghostwriter wrote):

I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do…People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular…It’s an effective form of promotion. 9

Roger Waters in writing The Wall, has Pink partially based upon Syd Barrett. Barrett who died in 2006 was a founding member of Pink Floyd and was kicked out of the band in 1968. Barrett probably suffered from some issues associated with mental illness. Barrett’s influence on the band was pointed out by one author who wrote, “With Syd the direct [of the band] changed; it became more improvised around the guitar and keyboard.” 10 Pink is also partially based on Waters himself who lost his father in 1944 at the battle of Anzio during the Second World War. At concerts, fans were encouraged to bring photos of members of their family who were killed in combat and they were displayed on a screen. One wonders how fans seeing loved ones on a large screen with their favorite band playing suddenly made them feel. Obviously, the death of his father greatly affected Waters, which is understandable, and that void, that anguish, comes through in understanding Pink. 11 We can recognize that Pink suffers, which is why he is building his wall, but in the case of Trump, by only trying to understand his wall in some detached political test of wills sense or evaluating its policy implications, avoids addressing it related to Trump’s personality and, by extension, the attitudes that Trump’s most hardened wall supporters feel.

Roger Waters on stage

Why it matters that understanding Trump’s personality has a relationship to his wall is that there is a very good chance that if it is ever built, it will still not satisfy Trump’s desires. Will he feel contention, satisfaction, a job well done? That is highly debatable. If construction could actually take anywhere between five and eight years to complete, assuming there is a clear understanding of what Trump wants and is eventually agreed upon between him and Congress, there is a reasonable chance that along the construction path, he would revise his mind about the desired outcome. In 1997, Trump in an interview was asked who he unburdened himself to during times of success, his response was “Nobody. It’s just not my thing.” 12 In 1983, Trump bought the New Jersey Generals, a football team in the United States Football League (USFL). This twelve-team football league played in the Spring so was not in competition with the Fall schedule of the National Football League (NFL). Trump pushed to have a Fall schedule for the USFL, believing that the competition would lead to a merger of the two leagues. That did not happen, instead the USFL folded. One observer, familiar with developments stated, “It’s all about [Trump] and the brand and moving on to the next thing if it doesn’t work out.” 13 One may develop an understanding of what construction on America’s southern border might involve, but that can change suddenly. A political battle that might appear to reach some resolution, may simply be nothing more than sand under ones feet. The personality of the man in the White House matters and simply grasping the political process between the President and Congress is not enough.

We can assume that whatever government reports that might come out about a completed or even near completed wall and whatever they report would in no way provide comfort to Trump. How he would be determining the success, or even partial success of something constructed would be simply based upon his own mood of the moment.

Too much of the attention, cable TV news version of Trump wall talk, is about the give-and-take between Trump and Congress over funding issues, and a little about different construction issues, less, if any, focus is on what an America gets if a wall, meeting Trump’s changing specifications, is actually completed.

The Wall with Pink Behind It

The lyrics to The Wall have three parts titled “Another Brick in the Wall.” In the first part, the death of Waters’ father can be heard in the lyrics, “Daddy’s flown across the ocean,” leading to “All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.” In the second part of “Another Brick in the Wall,” the lyrics, which might the best known of the entire rock opera go, “We don’t need no education, We don’t need no thought control, No dark sarcasm in the classrooms,” eventually leading to “All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.” In the third part, the lyrics, “I don’t need no arms around me, And I don’t need no drugs to calm me,” leads to, “All in all you were all bricks in the wall.” There is an evolution in the building toward the wall. With the wall completed the lyrics “I have become comfortably numb” are a strange complacency that lead to “And the hammers batter down the door, you’d better run,” and “You better run all day and run all night.” Finally, the lyrics, “it was only a fantasy, The wall was too high, As you can see, No matter how he tried, He could not break free.” In the end getting what one wanted was not enough to satisfy, to make Pink feel secure.

The trauma that Roger Waters felt and probably still feels regarding the death of his father can be heard in his lyrics. His father died at 29, Waters was born the year before he died. This is a son who had no memory of his father, but he must have felt later on that a father who could have been there for him in his early years, particularly as he began school and went through those early years leading to maturity, could have helped him emotionally in adjusting to the things that life puts in your way. A therapist addressing emotional trauma wrote, “Why is it so difficult to heal emotional trauma? Maybe it is because we do not understand what our emotional wounds really are, and therefore we go about healing in ways that can never work.” 14

Pink’s finished wall with psychological overtones.

With Pink’s wall completed, issues are raised about the wall Trump wants. A fund raising site was created online to have citizens contribute to the construction of the wall. The founder of the site, an Air Force veteran (Brian Kolfage, Jr.) who was wounded in Iraq said, “They are going to put up the wall.” Maybe. Arizona wanted to build something as a border separating their 200-mile long border with Mexico. The project would have cost $50 million but was project only raised $265,000 by 2015 and so was closed down. 15 In the first days of the campaign to raise $1 billion for Trump’s wall, over $4 million was raised. That may sound like a good start but millions and billions are lightyears apart. A million may have six zeros and a billion nine zeros, which just in a numerical way introduces the tremendous financial mountain that has to be climbed: A million seconds is twelve days, a billion seconds is 31 years. 16 Or, in mathematical terms $4 million is equal to $0.004 billion. 17 In the case of this fund raising site, after approximately one month, and $20 million raised, the triple amputee veteran who started the site announced he was shutting it down and, instead, starting a foundation to privately build sections of a wall. As Kolfage stated:

We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border. Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications. 18

The assumption that somehow privatization will be able to achieve some construction may be debatable. Some two-thirds of the border that would be the focal points for construction are on private land. The federal government has the power of eminent domain, the ability to seize private land for public use and deal with paying the landowners later. At the state and local levels of government, this power also exists but not as forcefully as at the federal government level. How a private organization expects to proceed is open to question. 19

The border with Mexico is slightly less than 2,000 miles but, more or less, what can be stated with some degree of changing uncertainty is that 1,000-1,300 miles is what Trump wants a wall to span. Trump, the builder, has thrown around a number of cost figures, interesting for someone so familiar with concrete and steel. By the way, he uses the term “the Trump Wall,” one way to immortalize whatever the legacy of his Presidency will be. One figure he threw out was $4 billion, another was $8 billion, then there was $10 billion, and even $12 billion. He did add, however, just to give himself credibility, “I’m very good at this, it’s called construction.” 20

One study that attempted to be more of a feasibility study on the cost of Trump’s wall, put the figure between $15-$25 billion. 21 That is a big spread in an estimate. In the case of the National League Central Division for Major League Baseball, there are five teams (Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St Louis Cardinals). Ask the question, “Will the Cardinals win the pennant in 2019?” and instead of “yes” you get “I expect them to finish in the top three,” does not say a whole lot. Seeing an estimate with a $10 billion spread, means just as little, and, $10 billion is equal to counting seconds over 310 years. In other words, throwing around figures between $15 and $25 billion is less about estimating cost and more about guessing.

Since cost associated with building a wall is simply a guesstimate, an alternative is the use of fiber optics which would be cheaper than any wall construction. Fiber Optics laid under the ground along the border, have been developed over the past decade but, as a university professor stated about this technology, “there was a lot of interest from the federal government. But like anything else, it just dies off.” 22 A fiber optics system would be able to detect crossings and provide an alert which could lead to border patrol agents dispatched to investigate. In 2017, a Republican Congressman from Texas, who’s Congressional district runs approximately 800 miles along the border, introduced the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act. This proposed bill went nowhere when the Republicans were the majority party in the House of Representatives. This act would have mandated the Department of Homeland Security to explore and deploy technologies that would help to secure the border. 23 One study that tested fiber optics pointed out that burying optical cables between one and four feet yielded different degrees of detection results but added, “all tested configurations performed satisfactorily.” 24 Interestingly, this was a 2007 study. Since a wandering horse as well as an illegal immigrant crossing the border could set off the detection equipment, then a judgment call would have to be made whether to dispatch agents. Nevertheless, the belief is that the technology would allow a more rapid response to any crossings.

Trump did say that Mexico would pay for the wall, a cute sentiment, totally meaningless. When two former Mexican presidents were crystal clear that was not going to happen, Trump felt the need in a Republican primary debate to say the wall just went up another ten feet after those responses annoyed him. In other words, Presidential mood swings might influence wall construction. Most people assume that somewhere after political battles over financing a wall end, there will be an agreed upon design and cost. What may need to be taken into consideration is Trump’s mood swings. This is not unusual, mood swings might matter to wall construction, the point being that there is not one ultimate political battle to determine the faith or size of a wall construction budget. In a law suit that Trump filed against Timothy O’Brien author of the book, TrumpNation: The Art of Being Donald, a case that centered on Trump being annoyed that the author estimated his worth as less than Trump felt it was, Trump stated in a deposition regarding his wealth, “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.” 25 Just as Pink is not content behind his wall after it is completed, it might be better to assume that Trump will not be content before any construction begins or even if something eventually gets off the ground.

Eleanor Roosevelt Matters

Eleanor, former First Lady, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) made an insightful comment about Americans:

A trait no other nation seems to possess in quite the same degree that we do — namely, a feeling of almost childish injury and resentment unless the world as a whole recognizes how innocent we are of anything but the most generous and harmless intentions. 26

It is natural to think well of ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it is not done in a way to create a simplicity of thought about how to address complex problems. Illegal immigration and drugs entering America will not end with the wall. A wall might do something to further hinder illegal immigration and drug trafficking, but that is not the same as ending it. In Jurassic Park (1993) Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum) says, “Life will find a way.”

Trump supporters for his wall with T shirts that could almost pass at a Pink Floyd concert

Fatalism as a thinking process where nothing is done, is not the same as building a wall and expecting tremendous changes. The focus of a public, or some segment of it, expecting significant changes that in some ways can be visibly seen and felt has to be of concern. A good quote on politics is, “The First Nobel Truth of Politics is Frustration.” 27 Frustration is normal, it is the expected, dilemma and conundrum are the everyday in politics. Escape from frustration comes in the form of fantasy thinking, the search for simple solutions to complex problems.

The Album, Amused to Death written by Roger Waters, released in 1992 loosely evolves around watching television. Television provides a way of distancing oneself from reality. One of the songs on the album “Watching TV” addresses the killing of demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in Peking in 1989. Protests in support of democracy led to a crackdown by the Chinese government with incredibly wild variations in the number killed ranging from several hundred into the thousands. Lyrics in this song go, “The children who died for you, Long live the Republic, Did we do anything after this? I’ve feeling we did, We were watching on TV, Watching TV.” Assume frustration is the norm, which encourages people to want action to address problems, any problems. For evening political news shows, the usual approach is designed primarily to berate and elevate blood pressure, frustration is usually addressed by painting everything in the context of liberal versus conservative, no hard and uncomfortable decisions to be made, just choose a side.

Richard Nixon resigned as President over Watergate on August 8, 1974, and on that day he had a 24 per cent public approval rating. 28 Admittedly, quite low for Presidential approval but nevertheless, a quarter of the public still supported him. Despite who is president, there will always be some portion of the public that will not lose its support for whomever is in the White House, Trump is no different. One CNN commentator, a Republican, felt the need to classify Trump supporters as “not sophisticated,” a comment that could be made about many Americans. 29 Learning to see the complexity in issues is a long and difficult journey and the really hard part comes in convincing people that they need to take the time to learn. The short circuit method of understanding the complex in politics is to reduce it to liberal versus conservative. This particular commentator stated, “[Trump] is a con man who works unsophisticated people very successfully. He has always done this. He has always been this… Donald Trump works his con on people who are not sophisticated and this is something that they love because it’s a simple thing.” Trump may be many things but a public, or some portion of it, that jumps at the chance to embrace that shiny new object because it offers some glimmer of hope, is a constant in politics.

Television news, particularly cable news, embraces a quote made by a well-known Political Scientist who wrote, “news that entertains and in some measure diverts attention from…distress [people feel]…are likely to be repelled by accounts that reiterate what afflicts their everyday lives.” This was written in 2001, while Trump was still a reality TV star. 30 Trump’s wall will not help most American save well for retirement or reduce the amount deducted from their paychecks that goes to pay for family health care plans so there is more for other essentials in life. It will not increase job security or make one feel the quality of life for them and their children will significantly and suddenly get better.

The Wall, Pink Floyd version, is one hour and 35 minutes. Psychologists can easily understand that some patients who experienced trauma will aim to do what Pink wants to achieve, wall themselves off from life around them. One way to look at this soundtrack is that it consists of eight sections with a total of 26 parts. The wall is completed by the time we get to “Goodbye Cruel World” which is the thirteenth part, so living with the wall still consumes half the soundtrack. Those parts after the wall is built reveal a disturbed personality. The part titled, “In the Flesh,” illustrates Pink’s disgust for people or particular segments of them. The lyrics go, “I’ve got some bad news for you sunshine, Pink isn’t well,” followed by, “Are there any queers in the theater tonight? Get them up against the wall! There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me, That one looks Jewish! And that one’s a coon!” It is difficult to see any redemption in Pink by the time we get to the second to last part where the lyrics go, “The evidence before the court is Incontrovertible, there’s no need for The jury to retire,” and “I have never heard before, Of someone more deserving of the full penalty of law.”

The wall, once built reveals a truly unapologetic, disdainful individual: Pink. Here is where concerns about Trump’s wall should make people wonder. How will Americans, some or many, feel about countries to the south of us if a wall is fully completed to Trump’s unclear expectations? Israel began construction of walls, fences, barriers in 2003, some completed, some not, with the aim of reducing or eliminating terrorist infiltration into Israel. Using this series of walls or barriers as a simple analogy for Trump’s proposed wall, where the only issue is to use the Israeli construction as a way to justify Trump’s wall, should only be attempted by the most superficial of TV political commentators, particularly since some of the construction weaved through territory occupied on the West Bank during the 1967 War. As one study stated, “[construction] seldom adher[ed] to Israeli’s internationally recognized border, often protruding, sometimes very deeply, into the territories.” 31 On the Israeli side the use of the word “security” goes with referring to the wall or barrier, on the Palestinian side, the use of the word “apartheid” goes with referring to the constructed entity. One scholar who studied the impact of the wall or barrier stated, “social networks built through family networks are falling apart because of barrier closures. People are becoming more alienated and society more fragmented.” 32 One Trump supporter who expressed his reason for supporting the construction of a wall wrote, “Build the wall to start putting Americans first.” 33 Regardless of whatever that means exactly, the sentiment should raise concerns that a completed wall can adversely impact attitudes many Americans might feel toward foreigners in general and our involvement in the world at large. Other supporters frequently referred to illegals taking jobs away from Americans. Trump made a similar claim. In July 2015 he stated, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” One study that questioned that claim stated, “the impact of immigrant labor on the wages of native-born workers is low… However, undocumented workers often work the unpleasant, back-breaking jobs that native-born workers are not willing to do.” 34 Detailed studies questioning a popular belief are one thing, believing the fable is something else.

Will a wall, once started in earnest, assuming that happens, only serve to heighten attitudes hostile toward foreigners, particular those from south of the border? Donald Trump seems to have emboldened supporters to feel more empowered about expressing their hostilities, their resentments, against anyone they feel somehow does not belong here, within America. In a Pennsylvania high school, a student marched through the hallways shouting “White Power!” soon after Trump was elected President. In a survey of 400 middle schools in Virginia, it was noted that there was an increase in bullying–but not in every school. The New York Times reported on this study stating, “The Trump areas [where there were middle schools] saw particular increases in teasing about race and, to a lesser degree, sexual orientation. The greater the margin of Trump support in the community, ‘the higher the prevalence rates’ of bullying [one of the researchers of this report said].” 35 In other words, children seemed to be learning from their parents who supported Trump, that it was acceptable to behave in ways that showed their disdain for certain segments of people.

A Trump wall that drew supporters

Regarding the notion that drugs will somehow no longer enter America, just think in terms of nothing more complicated than a high-end drone bought in any electronics store. In August 2017, for example, border agents arrested someone with methamphetamine weighing more than thirteen pounds with a value of $46,000 which arrived by way of a drone. It is believed the first drug smuggling arrest where a drone was used to fly in over thirty pounds of marijuana occurred in 2015. 36 Young men as smugglers able to climb border fencing and rappel down the other side, have developed a name, they are called, “Mexican spidermen.” That wall, finished somewhere more than a half decade from now that Trump wants, well maybe, might finally force them to learn other techniques for scaling a wall. 37 Drug traffickers who have testified at the trial of drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, did not point out the use of the border with Mexico as a means of bringing drugs into the country. As CNN stated, “after the government cracked down on smuggling tunnels, they began relying on legal ports of entry to bring drugs into the country.” False compartments in oil tankers and trains have been used as methods to smuggle in drugs. 38 Regarding terrorism, Alan Bersion, who was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency Commissioner in 2011, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee at the time that, terrorist crossings from Canada were more of a threat than was the case with the Mexican border. 39 A 2015 report issued by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee stated, “The nexus between known or suspected terrorists in eastern Canada and the northern parts of the U.S. represent a significant national security threat.” 40

The wall, currently as nothing more than a state of mind is about attitude. Different barrier constructions have been underway since the Clinton Presidency, but the impression created by Trump is that, basically, nothing of any significance has been done, which is inaccurate. In fact, Trump stated, regarding past Administrations, “This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me and they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.” Actually, none of them have said anything of the sort. In a biting understatement, former president Jimmy Cater stated, “I think it’s well-known that the incumbent president is very careless with the truth.” 41 That security along the southern border was of concern to presidents prior to Trump, there is, for example, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized construction along the border. More than 600 miles of fencing has been completed under this act. In part this act stated:

[This Act] authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border; Authorizes more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting to help prevent people from entering our country illegally; Authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border. 42

While the word “fence” may give the impression that it can easily be penetrated, the various designs for a wall, Trump version (cement or steel, or some combination of both) may also be penetrated. A report by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pointed out that any prototype constructions being considered might be penetrated. This report was heavily redacted so it was filled with parts blocked out, as a result, it is not always clear what level of confidence exists any construction agreed upon will completely work. It was noted that some sixty different tools to breach the different designs were used and that “all of the prototypes were deemed vulnerable.” 43

Just as Pink keeps putting another brick on the wall, Trump keeps building up what his wall will become. His use of terms such as “big” and “beautiful,” or “the greatest wall that you’ve ever seen,” add to the heightened expectation of a project completed with tremendous results. Although, admittedly, his flowery terms make the wall sound more like a future tourist destination than a security barrier, much like the Griswolds visiting the Hoover Dam in Vegas Vacation (1997).

Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold at Hoover Dam in Vegas Vacation. Maybe there can be a sequel: Wall Vacation.

Pink builds his wall because he sees life and people around him in incredibly nasty and hostile ways. Toward the beginning of The Wall the lyrics, “There were certain teachers who would Hurt the children in any way they could,” makes one wonder what type of childhood Waters experienced, if his lyrics are part autobiographical. Added to this misery are the lyrics, “When they got home at night, their fat and Psychopathic wives would thrash them, Within inches of their lives.” No wonder Pink needs a wall. Pink who comes across as paranoid and in need of therapy, so someone who can be treated with sympathy in the first part of The Wall, evolves into an odorous individual after his wall is completed, where he shows disdain and looks down upon certain types of people. Trump supporters are more likely to believe that undocumented immigrants commit crime more so than Americans which is why they support more law enforcement along the border, assuming “more” is an easily quantifiable term. 44 This greater sense of negative or even hostile attitude when looking south of the border fuels Trump’s supporters. Regarding crime rates, however, by illegal immigrants one report stated, “experts say the president’s rhetoric [about crime rates by illegal immigrants] overstates the threat posed by [them, they] tend to commit crime at lower rates than people who are born in the United States.” 45 A 2018 report released by the Cato Institute, based on 2015 crime data from Texas, pointed out that illegal immigrants were 25 per cent less likely to commit homicide than people born in the United States.

A familiar Pink Floyd image

Roger Waters has always been politically vocal, it just seems that there is more awareness of that since Trump has been in the White House. In 2017, his “Us + Them” tour flashed images on the giant screen of Trump in lipstick wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, and selected insulting Trump quotes on women and Mexico flashed on the screen. 46 The tour continued into 2018 and included an inflatable pig with Trump’s face on the side. One CNN host called the tour, “as much an anti-Trump rally as a rock concert.” 47 He was not enthusiastic about the thought of Hillary Clinton, however, becoming president, calling her “scarily hawkish,” and, “I have an awful worry that she might become the first woman president to drop a f**king nuclear bomb on somebody.” 48 Waters has expressed an interest in performing The Wall near the Mexican-American border. He noted the relationship of The Wall to Trump’s wall stating, “[The Wall is] very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions. [The album was] about how detrimental building walls can be on a personal level, but also on broader levels.” 49

Pink Floyd is no more but Waters understands that it lives on through him. In an interview he stated:

[I]f I’m being given the mantle of Pink Floyd, it behooves me to take a good, strong, long, loving, nostalgic look at the work that David [Gilmour] and [the late] Rick [Wright] and Nick [Mason] and Syd [Barrett] and I did together between 1967 and 1982, which is the years that I was around. I think it’s a great body of work, and I’m happy to…tip my hat to them and to that band. 50

When you get what you wished for and it falls far short of what you expected, therein lies another level of political hostility, since inevitably it will lead to questioning who to blame for the lack of success that was expected but never realistic in the first place. Among Trump supporters, in a survey that was conducted during the primary and caucus period in 2016, they were significantly more likely to support the statement that read, “People like me don’t have any say [in government policies;]” 86 per cent of Trump supporters agreed with this statement, while Republican supporters for Trump’s two closest challengers for the Republican nomination to run for President (Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) were in the negative (below zero). 51 Trump’s wall is about “having a say,” it is about a segment of the public who have felt alienated from their government and the wall is about them participating in the political process. Voting is just one of the ways people participate in politics, contacting members of Congress, or the state legislature or city hall are others. Showing support for the wall is another way of “having a say.” Ironically, many of those close to the action, living near the border in Texas, oppose building a wall. In a 2016, survey, 72 per cent of Texans near the border opposed a wall. As one resident stated, “our opinions as residents are not taken into consideration.” 52 In January of this year, the mayor of McAllen, Texas, stated, “[The military] came and put concertina wire around the bridges and didn’t even ask us. We started to take them down after they left, but there’s still a lot left.” 53 So much for residents on the border “having a say.” One writer stated, “The thing we asked for is not quite what we desired. …[B]e careful how your wants are impressed, make sure it is a complete thought and not a half-thought.” 54 Both Pink and Trump just assume their walls will do the trick, we know Pink was wrong, will that provide insight for The Donald’s Wall.

Works Cited

  20., and,
  30. Murray Edelman, The Politics of Misinformation, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 76
  41. https//
  43. The actually report can be accessed through this article with all of its redactions.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Editor, Missouri Policy Journal, Lindenwood University.
Edited by CatBeeny.

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  1. Trinity

    I spent much of my early adult years listening to Floyd. Although Waters has not written a decent rock song in about 35 years, given the marvelous Floyd stuff, I still hope for a few more decent tunes to emerge at some point.

    • Joseph Cernik

      I always enjoy The Wall. We can always hope Waters might do more.

  2. I am stealing a line from a colleague. Look, the Chinese kept building walls, big beautiful walls for the over two thousands years. It worked! It worked! No Mexicans came across!

    • Joseph Cernik

      A perspective colleague, keep those Mexicans out of China.

      • Joseph Cernik

        I should proofread late at night–A good perspective by your colleague, keeping those Mexicans out of China.

    • Yep, the Xiongnu, Turkic tribes, Mongols, Turks again…The walls did no good!

  3. One does begin to wonder when/how this is all going to end?

    When you see Trump performing just for the cameras, in his idea of a presidential setting, you can almost believe that he’s forgotten that he failed to get the cash for the wall during almost two years in which the Republicans controlled both houses, which means that blathering against the Democrats and mistaking can’t for won’t about his failure to reach a deal with them is his way of justifying, or trying to justify, his existence…

    • Joseph Cernik

      Beyond just The Wall, undocumented immigrant crossings will not go away. I expect the numbers to increase and become a continuing issue, with or without Trump in the White House.

  4. The Wall, or rather this entirely manufactured “emergency” on the USA’s southern border, is Trump’s Reichstag Fire.

  5. Trump still thinks he’s on “reality” TV (a form of TV game show) rather than accepting lived reality that underlies our responsibility for enduring outcomes. This is a presidency without precedent, at least for the US. Not that we were never ever conned by presidents in the past (think the “cakewalk” war to expose Iraq’s WMDs) but the scale of sheer presumed autocracy and irresponsibility has never before been as glaringly blatant or anti-democratic.

    • Joseph Cernik

      The reality show image is probably of concern. That is the environment he was use to for so many years.

  6. Building the wall is an affirmation of Trump’s power – hence it must not built. This narcissist requires that this be done and will point to it for his reelection.

    He must never be reelected – he needs to be impeached to maintain the integrity of American politics and the American people must realized that the Constitutional approach to government must stand higher than any American president’s ego.

    • Joseph Cernik

      The notion of doing something drastic to address people crossing the border as been an issue in American politics for years. It’s possible to find attempts to do something beginning in the 1930s.

    • buzzkiller

      Ideally he needs to be voted out, even if it does mean another two years of this. We will never hear the end of it otherwise. God only knows what his rabid, tooled-up supporters would do if their Trumpenfuhrer was removed from office. Especially if he told them to take to the streets in protest.

      • Joseph Cernik

        Trump will still matter even if he is not President. His election was part of a broader expression of political frustration, which will still be there even without him in office.

  7. War is such an ancient concept – I find it hard to get my head around the fact that we still start them. I mean it’s like still believing in invisible gods and fairies when we have seen our world from space and know it is small and finite and beautiful and we should be looking after it.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Maybe Trump’s wall is on a par with invisible gods and fairies.

      • Hershel

        Problem is we are not all alike. That people chose ambitions of power I find bizarre. Even to the relatively low level of managing director or CEO. Who would actively set about cultivating that set of habits and attitudes that allows you to achieve that? One fucking life. People think not having wealth and power are a waste of your life. I think the opposite is true, well maybe the money would be nice.

  8. Roselee

    Holding people hostage – in this case, the government – as a bargaining chip is an act of a criminal and authoritarian. In any other democracy, this would be grounds for dismissing the ruling party in power. But with a fascist in the WH, it is tolerated and in fact celebrated by those wearing the modern version of the Nazi arm band, the MAGA hat.

    • Joseph Cernik

      I think if Trump had gone about this in less of a “bull in a China shop” way there would not be so much outcry. Which makes me wonder what raises to the level of distaste and resentment against his approach to immigration.

  9. This has got to be the first time a presidential address has been used to try to cause a panic rather than prevent one.

    Even Tricky Dicky wasn’t that morally bankrupt.

    • Joseph Cernik

      The movie “Wag the Dog” probably reflected a belief that stirring up issues for political gain is periodically going to happen.

      • Trump has already way overtaken Tricky Dicky. Any previous president would have been forced out by now..

        • Joseph Cernik

          Interestingly, if Fox News existed when Nixon was President, they might have defended him. In that situation one wonders if he would have resigned. He might have been forced out but fought it if he saw a TV station coming to his defense.

  10. All in all, Donald is just another prick in the wall.

    Apologies to Pink Floyd.

    • Joseph Cernik

      It may be the way he approaches the issue of people crossing the border. He makes no attempt to approach it in a way where reasonable people can support him and try to see if a problem can be solved that does not come across as filled with extreme hate.

  11. This is why I like Pink Floyd.

    • Joseph Cernik

      When I went through the words in The Wall, it was interesting how Waters could be so insightful. Waters wrote this years ago and it seems so relevant now.

  12. Chantay

    At least Waters is getting involved with the debate , inaction and apathy leads to people voting unwanted leaders in. He’s supportive of the Palestinians strongly too.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Waters, politically, seems like an interesting person.

  13. It was Waters getting all politically preachy which started putting me off Pink Floyd. I don’t mind music being political, but I prefer it to be done in a more subtle way than Waters was doing it. It was like being shouted at by some political zealot. For that reason I haven’t really followed his solo career at all.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Politics and music have been interwoven for years.

    • I never thought of The Wall or Animals as too politically preachy (merely preachy if you get me) and thought they stayed the right side of subtly political – but sure, re-playing in my head, I get your point, mind you.

    • The more Waters took over the songwriting, the worse Floyd got. The Wall isn’t a bad album but it’s not a patch on DSOTM or Meddle.

  14. It’s very simple, Donald. Even though the vast majority of Americans do not want your wall to be built, they will accede to your request on one condition. When Mexico pony’s up the cash.

    You know, just like you promised they would, when you were campaigning for the job you now hold.

    • Joseph Cernik

      I see lots of convoluted reasoning on how the wall will pay for itself-usually by people who want the wall and probably understand no check will be forthcoming from Mexico.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Without Mexico paying, new reasoning how the wall will pay for itself is emerging.

  15. Trump is ripping this country apart at the seams – socially, politically, economically, and internationally. He’s gotta go. We can easily handle a year and a half of my former governor, Trump not so much.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Even if Trump loses in 2020, his tweeter account will be very active so his voice will be heard loudly.

  16. Anderson

    Ooh, thank you, so very wise bass player.

  17. Despite his oafish incompetence and multiple blunders on any given day, Trump’s survival shows America would be easy meat for a smart wannabe tyrant. I’m sure there are plenty of GOP hyenas watching and learning, smacking their lips at the prospect of a conservative caliphate

    • Joseph Cernik

      A good book by David Frum, Trumpocracy, on Trump’s challenge to democracy.

  18. jazzyfunk

    Please Mr. Mueller, hurry up and let’s get this president removed from office.

    • Joseph Cernik

      The Mueller probe may or may not result in what Trump critics want. What always get me is the number of times someone on TV tries to act with an authoritative tone and says when the report will finally be released. Why not just say that it will get done but we have no clue when it will be released.

    • I imagine that the FBI much prefer to take their time to build a watertight case which will (and already has) implicate a number of players, instead of rush the investigation like they were forced to do with Kavanaugh.

      • Joseph Cernik

        It would be nice on cable TV news to see someone say we know little about the Mueller report and we’re all doing a lot of guessing.

  19. Some leaders seek to build walls between nations and peoples.

    Some leaders seek to build bridges between nations and peoples.

  20. That Trump supporters actually believe the crass nonsense he keeps conning out with, speaks volumes of their gullibility and extreme prejudices, both of which he relies on for their continued support. He described at some length and great detail gruesome murders of American citizens and tried to link it to his security wall. Has everyone forgotten how he sat sympathizing with parents and friends that had suffered loss at one of many recent school shooting massacres, even hinting that he would do something about gun control, yet at a meeting of the National Rifle association, giving them his full support and no change in the gun laws. Do not the American public ever contrast the difference between the few deaths that could be attributed annually to illegal emigre’s to the tens of thousands that die at the hands of their fellow Americans each year, with legally owned guns. Donald Trump The man who is forever declaring having achieved a “Home Run!” on this or that policy, when infact he has not even reached “First Base!”

    • Joseph Cernik

      Actually, lots of good Political Science writing shows his base acting the way it does is normal. Taking the word of the leader of the political party you support is usually the norm.

  21. The wall is a Trump folly, but the neanderthal base of Republicans love it. Even a caveman can yell “build a wall”. Yes, they still scream “lock her up” as Trumps campaign criminals are sitting in jail. We have a huge disconnect with reality.

    • Joseph Cernik

      My concern is that it is a simple solution to immigration. If, or when, it is completed, it may have some deterrence effect, but supporters may be expecting too much from it.

  22. Perhaps we should all chip in to buy Trump a big box of Lego so he can build his wall.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Hopefully I could express my concerns about his personality and its relationship to the wall.

  23. Xochitl

    Did Pink Floyd predict this narcissist in 1979 with their song Mother? Pretty accurate if that’s the case.

    • Joseph Cernik

      As I point out in my essay, I think some of Waters thinking, his feelings, are an outgrowth of his childhood without his father.

  24. Millions voted for that wall. Trump is a consequence of carefully constructed and sold ignorance.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Millions voted for Trump but the wall is not up yet. It will be interesting to see how the construction or non-construction (depending on where it is) will be addressed in the 2020 Presidential election.

  25. Well.. you gets what you elects. They elected him.. and given no one’s managed to impeach him, they’ll just have to not elect him again.. but given some off the pres they’ve ‘re elected in the past I wouldn’t hold my breath.. but that’s their look out

  26. We may not see the end of this villain till November 2020, if the Republican controlled Senate doesn’t act.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Even if Trump loses in 2020, he will still be a voice for many and we will hear about it nightly on the news.

  27. mahamma

    War isn’t about ideology, it’s not about religion. And it’s not about money. It’s about POWER. A basic power instinct that is deeply rooted in human nature and is expressed as ideology, religion, economic power (money). It will always exist, only its manifestations change as cultures evolve.

    • Joseph Cernik

      It’s not the wall (Trump version) that is about war: It may be about us versus them, and hostility, and suspicion. Oddly, those can sound like feelings leading to war but, in this situation I’m more concerned about hatred and hostility making it difficult to try to address issues surrounding immigration in ways that might help to solve some of the problems.

    • Agreed. In the old days Religion brought power, now money brings more power with the secularism of states in the developed world therefore undermining religion which is good in a way. But yes. It is about power.

  28. Thank you Roger Waters.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Yes, I agree. I would like to see a long conversation that he might have on how he sees his wall as providing some insight for Trump’s wall. More than just some random thoughts, which, at this point, is all I’m seeing.

  29. I think this is such an interesting topic! So well done! I would never think to put these two things together.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Thank you for enjoying it. The more I read about Trump and his wall, the more I remembered the Pink Floyd song. It is rather unsettling that a song from several decades back can provide insight into how to look at the current situation.

  30. Trump needs to set up a charity to build the wall and for his own enthusiastic and credulous supporters to make donations to pay for the wall. Start a fund of $100 billion and see where it goes from there.

  31. Joseph Cernik

    As I point out in my article, an organization trying to raise money privately may get nowhere.

  32. They need an intelligent solution to the drugs problem, probably involving methods in production countries as opposed to a wall.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Well a wall, as I pointed out, will not do a great deal to hinder the flow of drugs. Simple solutions are always seen as solving complex problems, which is never the case.

  33. He broke his promise about who would pay for the wall and he expects Congress to stump upi the cash.

    • Joseph Cernik

      The convoluted explanations of how the wall will be paid for are interesting to follow.

  34. Learning about the film, The Wall, in high school i thought it was such a crazy concept. Flash forward several years I never expected it to be a reality. Thank you for this insight i think many americans and supporters need to read this article.

  35. Joseph Cernik

    It is a strange feeling to be able to use Pink Floyd’s rock opera to help understand The Donald’s version of The Wall. I don’t think I would ever have thought that Pink Floyd’s The Wall would have some relevance to the presence, and yet, it does.

  36. Dave Mantsios

    Yes, I guess there are some parallels, but what strikes me about this piece is how poorly it was written. It was poorly written and conceived and full of grammatical issues.

    • Joseph Cernik

      I guess I’m happy I got responses from a handful of psychologists that they enjoyed my piece and that it was referred to in the ceremony when I was awarded Scholar of the Year at my university. This happens, maybe you’ll find others of my essays enjoyable to read. I lot of university faculty I know, in a number of states, are often almost afraid to write for publication because they anticipate being confronted with criticism–which is foolish. You should have seen the responses I got from NRA members when I wrote about the Trayvon Martin shooting. After just finishing writing and having chapters accepted for two different edited books (Trump’s Family Separation Policy, and, Education Financing Problems in Rural America), I’m now returning to work on several pieces for The Artifice. When you do a lot of writing, it is inevitable you will find some of what you write is unacceptable in various ways to some readers. At least, thanks for reading my piece.

  37. most informative info here and most unique contenet use admin

  38. Joseph Cernik

    Thanks for reading my article. Now you know all you need to know about Trump’s wall.

  39. Fantastic article!

  40. I’ve always enjoyed Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, also. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song that, in its own way, tells how people, either consciously, or subconsciously, build walls around themselves, or around others. This is a great article.

    • Joseph Cernik

      I don’t think I ever thought that one day I’d write an article on The Wall, which I’ve heard for years, and use it as a way to provide perspective on Trump’s wall.

  41. Thanks for this provocative (in the best sense of the word) article. When I read the clever title, it made me laugh even if I what I really wanted to do was cry. And thank you for the thorough footnotes — easy to fact-check and assess the credibility of your sources.

    I somehow doubt The Donald and Pink will ultimately reach the same conclusions. Nor would the former’s base ever stop to consider the cogent parallels you so aptly weave into your excellent article.

    In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath that Trump’s folly will become anything other than a symbolic as well as a literal barrier to addressing the issues that cause “having a say” frustrations, even one brick at a time.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Thanks for enjoying my article. Amazing that a song from years ago can provide insight into an issue today–Trump’s wall.

  42. Pink Floyd’s The Wall has intersected with politics previously–particularly in the late Cold War, given the timing of the album’s release and Reagan’s televisual moment in Berlin, during which he made the famous quip, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down down that wall.” And then Pink Floyd responded to the actual destruction of the actual wall with a famous 1990 concert reprising the album in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (literally between East and West Berlin). We build real and metaphorical walls in politics to keep people apart and preserve ideologies; by tearing them down we do the opposite.

    • Joseph Cernik

      Good point about Reagan, the Cold War and Pink Floyd’s concert. I did not know that about the 1990 concert.

  43. RBoileau

    This is an extremely well done article and a very interesting comparison!

  44. Joseph Cernik

    Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is odd, however, to think that the Pink Floyd version of The Wall can provide insight into the wall Donald Trump wants. The Pink Floyd version points to problems to come if Trump’s wall actually gets built.

  45. I think the building of the Wall is also a reaffirmation of the US’s sovereignty. American nationalists see Trump as the only instrument they have to get their policies passed. A good article regardless. Cheers

  46. Joseph Cernik

    Thanks for enjoying my article. I wish building the wall would the wall would solve all sorts of problems, I just don’t see that happening. In fact, I suspect if it were built, it would cause unforseen problems. In the study of Public Administration there is the issue of something called: The Law of Unexpected Consequences.

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