Subscribe

Do Trump and Clinton use fear of the foreign to sway voters?

Clinton has expressed support for tightening "rules of origin" regulations, which would make it more difficult for automakers to claim that their vehicles are manufactured in America if they use too many foreign-made parts.

  • close
    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters and takes photos during a campaign event at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, N.C., (March 14, 2016).
    Carolyn Kaster/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump isn't afraid to make xenophobic statements if they'll rile up his base of supporters. For example, he's repeatedly promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. And of course, he proposed a ban on all Muslims traveling to America.

For those sorts of inflammatory comments, Mr. Trump has received loads of press, most of it negative. He and his fans have been accused of xenophobia, misogyny, and worse.

But Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton isn't entirely innocent on that front, either. Late last week, she expressed support for tightening "rules of origin" regulations, which would make it more difficult for automakers to claim that their vehicles are manufactured in America if they use too many foreign-made parts.

Rules of origin: their purpose and effect

Rules of origin change from industry to industry and from country to country, but at heart, they're designed to help governments distinguish between goods that are made domestically and those made in other countries. Those classifications have a major impact on how many foreign products are allowed into a country, how those products are taxed, and, therefore, how competitively they'll be in the marketplace.

Clinton's primary focus appears to be U.S.-made steel, which is being shut out of the market by cheaper metal from China. However, changing the rules of origin could also affect how other car elements are classified, which could leave some Detroit automakers reeling.

For example, last year's Made In America Index revealed that FCA, Ford, and General Motors generally produce the "most American" cars sold in the U.S. That assessment is based on the location of the companies' headquarters, the location of their assembly plants, and the countries where their engines, transmissions, and other components are made.

However, there are some notable exceptions. For example, while the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Corvette, and GMC Acadia tied for the #1 spot on the 2015 Index, the Chevrolet Caprice, Spark, and SS tied for 66th. The Toyota Camry and Sienna, by contrast, ranked at #9, with many Toyotas and Hondas close behind. (A couple of years earlier, the Camry ranked as high as #2.)

All of which is to say, in today's world of international business, it's become increasingly difficult to define what an "American" car really is.

Our take

Both Clinton and Trump ground their fears of the foreign in economics (though Trump also plays on worries over national security). To Trump, migrants from Mexico and further south are taking American jobs. To Clinton, many products classified as American should be relabeled foreign, giving domestically manufactured goods an edge over competitors from overseas and keeping jobs in the U.S. 

Both are kinds of xenophobia, and both are thoroughly calculated: Trump needs to keep his base excited, and Clinton needs to appeal to union workers to keep Bernie Sanders at bay.

However, as much as we might like to remain out of the political fray and say that Trump and Clinton are doing the same thing, they're clearly not.

Clinton's fear of the foreign manifests itself in wonkish discussion of tax policy and regulation. Her aim is to keep U.S. goods competitive in the American market. Most importantly, she speaks of products, not people. 

You might argue that Trump's xenophobia has some of the same underpinnings, but his rhetoric goes in a very, very different direction. He's gone well beyond rational discussions of immigration policy and instead created bogeymen of Mexican immigrants (whom he's labeled "rapists") and Muslim refugees (whom he's said hate America). 

We can discuss whether xenophobia is ever justified, but there's no justification for comments like those.

This article first appeared at The Car Connection.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK