30 Oct 2016

Donald Trump: the Brexit effect reaches Detroit

They are talking about Brexit in Detroit! Yes for Donald Trump read Brexit. Whilst we want to leave Europe, Trump wants to leave the World Trade Organisation, the local deals with Mexico and Canada, the Climate Change Treaties and much else. No more manufacturing job losses to Mexico, or China, or anywhere else for that matter. Oh yes, and he’s questioned the premise of NATO.

Mr Trump wants to make America Great again with tariffs against companies that out-source their manufacturing abroad and then bring the products back for sale in the USA. In cities like Detroit that kind of talk can sound pretty…until the people who hear it hear him talking about women or Muslims, or Mexicans.

What has surprised me in the few hours I have been here is how fed up people are with this campaign. ‘I don’t like either of them’ said an African American DJ I was talking to. ‘just let’s get the hell over with this thing…I won’t be voting for either of them’.

The Immigration Officer at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport talked to me candidly as I was entering his country, about how much Trump needed to be elected. How badly he was needed and yes, he hoped the Brexit factor would deliver an unexpected vote here too.

Amazing that things have reached such a fever pitch that a public official in full uniform with his gun on his hip feels confident of being able to talk to fervently to a complete stranger from halfway across the world.

I don’t find the same passion for Clinton. Although there is a lurking confidence that she will win, a lot of caveats are entered by some of those who have told me they are voting for her. The fact that she would be come the first woman ever to become President of the United States has none of the romance and fervour that Barack Obama’s runs for the White House engendered.

This is still an ugly contest. Trump is coming to Detroit on Monday. Clinton’s running mate Senator Tim Kaine comes tomorrow. There’s a fight going on here in Detroit – a city in an impressive kind of recovery. At the very least, people here are hoping that what ever happens doesn’t derail it.

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