Election 2016

Clinton's 700-Mile Border Fence Is Just 300 Miles Shorter Than Trump's

The 2016 election is a master class in the "narcissism of small differences" when it comes to major-party candidates.


Star Trek, CBS publicity

Who (besides libertarians) would have figured that the 2016 election is really an extended case study in what Freud termed "the narcissism of small differences," or "the phenenomen is the phenomenon that it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and that are related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and are ridiculing each other because of sensitiveness to these details of differentiation"?

That seems a pretty apt description not just of the Democratic and Republican parties but their two presidential nominees. Hillary Clinton wants to jack spending from 22 percent of GDP to 22.7 percent of GDP over the next decade, while Donald Trump wants to increase it by…22.5 percent (and this calculation was done before either candidate revealed more spending). Both are anti-trade and pro-zero-sum thinking about economics, want to punish American businesses that ship jobs overseas (whatever that means), and indulge in baby-boomer nostalgia. Each wants to bomb other countries (though their targets and reasons do vary a bit) and both have pledged to censor the Internet in the name of the global war on terror.

And then there's immigration, especially the issue of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump's rise to the GOP nomination was founded upon his enthusiasm for deporting all the illegals, especially the Mexican rapists, drug mules, job-takers, and disease-carriers, while Clinton served as secretary of state for the Deporter in Chief. And what about that wall? As The Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reports, Trump wants to build a 1,000-mile long beauty to stop the non-existent flow of Mexican illegals (we reached peak Mexican in 2007; after that our rotten economy created a better barrier than all the steel made in China would ever provide). And Clinton? Well, back in the day, as a New York senator, she voted for a 700-mile fence.

"Look, I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," she said at a campaign stop last November in video flagged by the conservative tracking group America Rising. "And I do think you have to control your borders."

She may have been alluding to 2006, when she voted for the Secure Fence Act. That legislation, which Bush signed, required 700 miles of double-fence physical barriers along the southern border. It also required more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, cameras, satellites, and drones, as its GovTrack.us page details.

And back in the day, she also sponsored legislation that would create "a biometric entry-exit tracking system [which is] exactly what Trump called for Wednesday night (and in the immigration plan he released last summer)." Read more here. And she was, of course, "adamantly against illegal immigrants" for a spell and wanted to screw over folks who employed them (Trump wants to do that too!).

So the distance between Clinton and Trump on immigration, especially now that he has "softened" his deportation language," is pretty narrow. Indeed, it might just be 300 miles of useless pork-barrel spending on fencing in the Southwestern desert.