The other day I opened up my back account and I liked what I saw. I had more money than I did in December. Those tax cuts are working. A very basic Republican economic policy, tax cuts are what helped Ronald Reagan get re-elected, and even Bill Clinton said he wished he had lowered them. America’s capitalistic system only works if people have the capital to spend. There are so many wonderful, intelligent and interesting things to say about tax cuts. So on Thursday, April 5, when President Donald Trump went to West Virginia to back up all the good his tax cuts were doing, why did he have to open his mouth about Mexico? Because for every step forward, he has to take five steps backward. His default is barking attacks, and with no new tricks, he’s creating more division than needed.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion in West Virginia, the president decided to ditch his script. “You know, this was going to be my remarks, it would’ve taken about two minutes, but to hell with it,” Trump said, throwing the papers in the air. “That would have been a little boring, a little boring.”

Playing one of his “greatest hits” from 2015, he reminded the audience of his campaign’s first speech. “Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened? Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough.’ I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”

He was referring to a report about women and children fleeing crime in Central America. While the argument could be made that there is a rape culture in that part of the world, America has its own rape culture as well, which is not discussed. The article wasn’t about the immigrants coming to America to commit crime. It was about people fleeing to America to enjoy peace and security. Trump earlier that week set in motion a plan to put more troops on the Mexican border, until the wall is built. The Washington Post broke the plan down.

“Under Trump’s plan, National Guard troops will assist Border Patrol agents until Congress passes legislation to deal with what the administration says are legal loopholes in immigration enforcement, according to an official familiar with the plan. The official, who would discuss the unreleased details only on the condition of anonymity, said the troops are expected to be in a support role, conducting tasks such as road development and intelligence gathering.”

I understand the need to protect the border and call out evil. But Mexico isn’t our enemy. It is our neighbor. Illegal immigrants come here to work. Especially in California, and especially in Ventura County. Over the years I was a wrestling coach and teacher, I met many students whose parents were illegal immigrants working under-the-table jobs, sometimes for major companies, and the kids were productive students, athletes and members of the community.

What upsets me is that President Trump had a chance to play the part of president and instead went back to his old tricks. Trump believes he must create an enemy that only he can protect us from. First it was Mexico. Then it was China. Then it was Sen. Ted Cruz. Then it was Hillary Clinton. Now it’s back to Mexico.

What the president should be doing is showing how, by applying a few conservative economic philosophies, America is growing in the right direction. Making Mexico the enemy is not the way to do that. Feeding into fear only hurts the country. Later in the roundtable discussion he threw out conspiracy theories about California letting people vote twice. He knows California will fight him on the war with Mexico, so he’s making the state a target as well. None of this is good.

He had a shot to make it about the American people. Jessica Hodge, a West Virginia speaker, talked about saving $2,000 because of the GOP tax bill. That’s the real story Trump should have been applauding. Not his fake war on our neighbor. Reagan and Clinton would have made the day about Ms. Hodge, not about themselves.