We’re in a strange cultural moment right now where fortunes can be raised on GoFundMe to make a point.
Earlier this week, a campaign to fund President Donald Trump’s southern border wall went beyond viral, taking in more than $6.2 million in its first three days. The effort, led by American veteran Brian Kolfage, is still nowhere near its campaign goal of $1 billion, to say nothing of the $5 billion in funding Trump is asking for from Congress.
But then I suspect a good chunk of the more than 100,000 donors to Kolfage’s campaign don’t really believe the money will result in an actual, physical wall. As my colleague Cale Guthrie Weissman pointed out earlier, this is more about “owning the libs,” and many comments on Kolfage’s Facebook page indicate that the supporters’ true motivation here is to revel in the sweet sound of Trump critics losing their heads. Whether or not that’s a good reason to part with $20 is not really for me to judge.
But GoFundMe is a knife that cuts both ways. And as Trump supporters continue to donate millions to a wall that will probably never happen, his critics have unleashed a platform-appropriate remedy—launching a GoFundMe campaign to build ladders to “get over” Trump’s wall. According to the campaign page, the idea was the brainchild of the Twitter account @HoarseWisperer, and indeed, this campaign is now also going viral. At last check, it has taken in more than $20,000.
From the campaign:
Even though at a rate of $1.7 million daily, it would take their fund about 35 years to raise the $21.7 billion that Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security says would be needed to build said wall, we wanna make sure ladders are ready to send over to our undocumented friends and help them.
The would-be ladder builders acknowledge that their idea is ridiculous—as is the idea of funding a border wall through GoFundMe—and for their part, they say they’ll donate the money to the pro-immigrant nonprofit RAICES in the event that the wall doesn’t actually get built, thereby nullifying the need for ladders.
So what’s the harm in all this? Maybe none at all, unless you believe there are more positive ways to motivate people to donate to good causes. A spokesman for GoFundMe told me neither of the campaigns violate the site’s terms of service, so donors are free to keep pouring money into them. But it’s hard not to wonder where the GoFundMe arms race ultimately leads. Didn’t anyone else read The Butter Battle Book as a kid?