Do not say that Donald Trump failed to build his wall. He built it. But he built it in Washington, D.C., not along the southern border, and he built it to shield himself from his fellow citizens, not to shield his fellow citizens from the existential threat posed by Mexican job-seekers.
The White House today is hidden behind a welter of barricades, anti-scale fencing, bollards, and Jersey barriers. The tens of thousands of people who flooded downtown D.C. in a celebratory release of pent-up anti-Trump feeling this weekend could barely see the people’s house. Lafayette Square, the scene of one of Trump’s most vulgar assaults on core American values, is now impenetrable. The White House fortress is a physical manifestation of Trump’s loathing for transparency and accountability, and it should be undone. The decent thing for Trump to do—though he seldom declines an opportunity to do the indecent thing—would be to disassemble this crude obstacle course before he leaves Washington for good.
Most presidents have taken seriously the idea of the White House as the “people’s house.” Most have not gone as far as Andrew Jackson (a hero of Trump’s), who let a mob of his supporters overrun the house on Inauguration Day (something Trump would never do, given the way he actually feels about his supporters), but most presidents understand the nature of their tenancy. The house is meant to be the home of a citizen chosen by other citizens to lead the executive branch for a finite period. It is definitively not meant to be a palace.