With both Halloween and Election Day around the corner, a college professor in Connecticut has taken the construction of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposed border wall separating the U.S. from Mexico into his own hands … sort of.
Upset over Trump’s hardline stance on immigration and his divisive rhetoric about Mexicans, Central Connecticut State University history professor Matthew Warshauer has constructed an 8-foot high cardboard version of the GOP nominee’s controversial wall outside his home in West Hartford.
The barrier comes complete with barbed wire, a Styrofoam version of the real estate mogul, armed guards and Mexican skeletons carrying politically-charged signs.
“I find Donald Trump’s views on pretty much everything pretty troubling,” Warshauer told Fox News Latino. “I don’t like the message of nationalism and bigotry … What he has said about Mexicans is very troubling. To paint a broad, diverse group of people with one brush is just wrong.”
One aspect of the wall that Warshauer is particularly proud of is the figure of a soldier telling a skeleton woman holding a baby wrapped in an American flag to move away from the wall.
“It’s a criticism of the idea of taking away birthright citizenship,” he said, referring to the proposal endorsed by Trump to no longer grant automatic U.S. citizenship to children born here. “Although I’m not sure how many people get the idea.”
This is not the first year that Warshauer has gotten extravagant with his Halloween displays – he’s been putting up out-sized decorations for the last 18 years – nor is it the first time he’s gone political. In the past, he has lit George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney’s pants on fire, had an Alice in Wonderland political Tea Party and recreated the Vietnam War complete with a replica Huey helicopter constructed out of cardboard.
But he says he hasn’t had nearly as much interest in anything has created before.
“When I was building the wall, I knew it would be big, but I didn’t expect it to be this big,” Warshauer said.
People gather nightly to gawk and admire his construction, he says, which he started in August and took him about 50 hours to complete, and he has received inquiries for interviews from reporters in places as far away as Dubai.
“It’s been really difficult to grade to papers with the number of phone calls I’ve been receiving,” he said.
Mixing politics with Halloween is nothing new – practically every Halloween store in the country sells overpriced masks or costumes of presidents ranging from George Washington to Barack Obama – but during such a divisive election season, Warshauer said, he is lucky to live in a town where people support what he does.
“My town is awesome,” he said. “I could not do what I do every year if I didn’t live here. I don’t think I would be able to do this if I lived somewhere in Tennessee or Texas.”
Warshauer, a registered Democrat, added that he does not always vote straight ticket Democrat and that, while the focus of his massive display might be on Trump, it doesn’t spare Democrats. There’s a toothy Hillary Clinton riding a donkey and the face of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders peeks out from behind prison bars over a sign that reads, “Jailed by the DNC.”
“I’m not enamored with Hillary Clinton by any means,” he said, “but I believe she is a far less dangerous candidate than Donald Trump.”
Warshauer's wall may be political satire, but he says that it is stirring actual political discussions between people who stop to ogle his creation.
“I’ll be outside talking to someone about the wall, and I’ll see people who don’t even know each other having political discussions when they come to see it,” he said.
While it may be the most controversial and talked-about display he’s put up so far, Warshauer said that he’s not worried about not meeting expectations when the holiday rolls around next year.
He said, “Every year my friends tell me that I won’t be able to do any better, but, somehow, every year I am able to up the ante.”
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.