In case you didn’t get the message, Donald Trump is going to “make America great again.”
Typically, campaign slogans try to capture something or other about the candidate by alluding to experience or values or whatever it is politicians believe will set them apart from the field.
But not Trump.
No, the brazen billionaire decided instead to go with something more grandiose by eschewing the slogan for a proclamation - an explicit promise to restore some bygone glory the billionaire imagines has been lost over the past two centuries.
After all, what kind of treasonous Benedict Arnold wouldn’t want to “make the country great again?”
Of course saying you’re going to right all of the wrongs on the way restoring American hegemony and striking fear in the hearts of those countries bold enough to challenge the US economically or militarily is one thing, while explaining how you’re going to do it is entirely another.
So far, it’s as yet unclear how Trump plans on making things “great again” and indeed it’s not even clear what the GOP frontrunner means by “great” other than “better than things are now.” Fortunately, voters don’t seem to care about the details and now, there’s a very real chance the Teflon Don ends up in the White House.
As we come up on the Iowa caucus, voters want to know how the candidates plan to turn campaign trail word into political deed and Trump has some ideas on how to reinvigorate America's dying manufacturing sector. For one thing, Trump thinks, we should shutdown Foxconn and get to making iPhones in the Rust Belt.
"We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries," Trump told a crowd at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday.
As ZDNet notes, Trump didn't elaborate on how he's going to compel Tim Cook to build his "damn computers" in America (perhaps Trump's friend Carl Icahn can help with that), but presumably he's threatening to impose punishing tariffs.
"Trump has similar plans for carmaker Ford, which he once again censured for investing $2.5bn on manufacturing plants in Mexico," ZDNet writes. "His answer to forcing the auto-maker's hand on the issue is a new tariff on vehicles made in Mexico, although the plants he referred to in fact make parts, rather than entire vehicles."
"For every car, truck and whatever else you're building, you're going to pay a 35 percent tax every time you bring a car across the border," he said.
We suppose you can just substitute "iPhone" for "car" in the bolded passage above. Note that there's something terribly ironic about claiming to support "free trade" and then threatening to impose 35% tariffs on imports.
For his part, Tim Cook says it's not about cheap labor, but rather about a skills gap. "You could take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in the room we're sitting. In China you would need football fields. It was a focus of their education system and so that is the reality," Cook said last month.
But Trump isn't interested in "reality," and indeed his poll numbers suggest he's rather adept at defying it.
If there's any truth to what Cook says however, Trump may want to consider how to go about changing the face of America's higher education system which currently churns out millions of job seekers with "skills" that nobody wants. These graduates go on to become highly educated waiters and bartenders forced to resort to serving beer and wings to pay off the $50,000 loan they took out to finance an art history degree. Taxing iPhones to force job repatriation won't fix that. Neither will a Bernie Sanders-style free college for everyone scheme. And neither will the continued push towards a increasingly financialized economy.
As usual, Trump seems to have the right idea (that America would do well to start making things again) but the wrong action plan.
Full speech at Liberty University below.