[THE THIRD WAY] El Paso magnifies Trump’s anti-democratic impulses

We’re still talking about the border. Two days ago, President Donald Trump held a rally in El Paso for the finishing of the border wall. This happened while pragmatic Democrats and Republicans came together to hammer out a deal that is far from finishing the wall. The number agreed to — 1.3 billion, is something Trump is not happy with. He said that he’d want to explore many other avenues before signing the funding bill, but that another government shutdown might be out of the question. Though Trump plans not to demand the 5 billion he was arguing for at the beginning of the year, he’s decided to tell his supporters in El Paso that the wall is being built.

The wall is never going to be built, so the next best thing for Trump to do is just tell his supporters that it’s under construction”

Make no mistake: not one mile more of border fencing has gone up during Trump’s two years in office, yet he still claims that he needs support to finish the wall and that he’d somehow be able to magically build the wall without congressional support or an emergency declaration. Trump’s denial of the truth becomes even more perplexing when you look at what else he said at the rally. Trump claimed that there were 10,000 people at this rally — to which the El Paso Fire Department responded that there were only 6,500. Later, Trump claimed that likely 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke’s anti-wall rally had 200 people in it. Estimates based in truth have Beto’s rally attendance at about 10,000 to 15,000.

Trump has always been a liar, but this wall situation reveals a different, more sinister strategy. The wall is never going to be built, so the next best thing for Trump to do is just tell his supporters that it’s under construction. Yes, a couple of them might go on a road trip along the border to see the lack of a wall — but the majority would just believe him. Why wouldn’t they? He’s the president, after all — presidential words used to and still have power. It’s the same with crowd sizes: Trump can say that there’s thousands more at his rallies and thousands fewer at Beto’s, and many would take that as truth. The crowds are both a malicious and stupid example of Trump’s estranged relationship with the truth; there’s no impact or significance of crowd sizes, but Trump chooses to lie about them because he can.

This mob mentality that leads people to believe easily provable lies is becoming more and more dangerous. At Trump’s El Paso rally, he blathered on about how the media is the enemy of the people, leading a supporter to assault a BBC reporter while the crowd jeered. I can’t see you, reader, but I bet you didn’t raise an eyebrow at that. We’ve slowly become accustomed to harassment of reporters by the right. It isn’t just supporters, either, now-Congressman Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter two years ago. It was news at the time, but the news didn’t make much of a difference since he’s been elected twice since. This Trump-driven mob mentality has become so normalized that it’s barely a story when someone is assaulted at his rallies. In summation, a guy who spouts “jobs not mobs” daily gets his mob to attack someone because of their job.