A man whom I’ve become friends with in the last month or so often shares thoughts on email about political issues. He sent along an email he received from a friend and it includes an email from a New Zealand friend.

The New Zealander’s email contains two confusions. I think they’re basic and I worry that most EconLog readers will too, making this post unnecessary. But just in case, I’m posting the exact wording of both the New Zealander’s comments (with his name changed to “X” to protect his privacy) and the exact wording of my responses.

I wrote to my American friend:

I have a different take on X’s letter. I think he misunderstands both the political system and the nature of borders.

First, the political system.

X writes:

My understanding is the Trump was quite clear, before being elected, that folk illegally in the US would be returned to the place from whence they came. He said that this is what he would do, he got elected and wants to do it. I don’t quite get why the Democrats have a problem with this.

My [DRH’s] response:

They have a problem with it because they don’t agree with it. We can talk about why they don’t agree, but X seems to be saying that simply because Trump got elected on a promise to build a wall (true) and deport illegal immigrants (true), the Democrats should go along. X lives in a country with a parliamentary system like that of Canada, where I grew up. The executive and legislative branch are the same. In such a system, if the Prime Minister and his party get elected on a platform promise, then yes, that’s what they are committed to do. But that’s not our system. We have an executive branch that differs from the legislative branch. When politicians in the legislative branch disagree with the President, they are acting within their delegated powers to oppose his policies. I’m not discussing the merits of the wall. I’m simply discussing whether the Democrats are somehow breaking the rules or acting illegitimately by opposing it.

Second, secure border.

X writes:

It seems to me that if you don’t have secure and well managed borders you actually don’t have a country.

My [DRH’s] response:

I don’t think that’s true. Think about something we both know something about: the border between Virginia and West Virginia. It’s not “well managed.” It’s not “secure.” Does that mean the Virginians don’t have a state?