Imagine this scene. It's 2002, and Governor Don Siegelman has just announced that Hyundai Motor Company has chosen Montgomery, Alabama, as its first automotive plant in the United States. It's one of the best news economically that this state has heard in years. The plant will make 300,000 cars a year and employ 2,000 people. The plant has since grown and become a major economic factor in Montgomery County.
Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when the Donald Trump, the kremlin-elected president of the United States, has started trade wars with countries who are supposed to be our allies. His 25 percent auto tariffs specifically will hurt U.S. sales and affect as many as 20,000 jobs at Hyundai's factory in Montgomery, according to Hyundai's labor union.
Unfortunately, the executive branch dictates policy on trade, so Congress and the other powers that be are limited in their powers to help. But what they can do is speak out. Governor Kay Ivey has strongly opposed these tariffs, but the politician I'm looking at is my congressional representative, Rep. Martha Roby. The congresswoman has been in office since 2010 and has already taken flack once for not supporting Trump because of the infamous Access Hollywood tape. She has been silent on the issue of these tariffs, which is odd considering the Hyundai plant is in her district. I understand she can't stop the president, but she does wield some influence considering her consistent conservative voting record and her recent endorsement from the president during her runoff election in which she faced ardent Trump supporter and longtime rival Bobby Bright.
Some liberals like myself might be saying "I told you so" to the state of Alabama, which easily gave its nine electoral votes to Trump in the 2016 election. But this is no time for arrogance.
This is a very real emergency for the entire state, not just for the conservatives or for the liberals. A shutdown of the Hyundai plant would be devastating for Montgomery County as well as the whole state. And the tariffs likely won't just affect Hyundai. There's also a Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa as well as a Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama, and the new Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville. If all four of these plants shut down, Alabama could see itself turn into the next Detroit, a city bankrupt due to the bankruptcy of its auto industries.
So if Congress can't fix it, and the Alabama government is essentially helpless against these tariffs, what can we Alabamians do? There are really only a couple of options. We can hope that someone persuades Trump to not implement the tariffs, or we can elect representatives who will remove Trump from office. Since Alabama is one of Trump's most staunch supporters, it would be hard to imagine a scenario in which it supports his removal from the Oval Office. Even when their jobs are on the line, there's an unfortunate proportion of Alabamians who would risk losing their jobs if it means sticking it to the liberals.
For a state that seems to really seems to dislike immigrants, it sure will be bittersweet to see our auto manufacturing jobs move to Mexico.