We believe in America.
Don't question that for a moment. But UAW President Dennis Williams' talk of a "Buy American" ad campaign is one of those insipid '80s tunes we can't seem to tap our toes to.
Williams' pitch isn't about America. It's about boosting the profile of the UAW. That's his job, of course, but the approach he's taking sounds especially anachronistic at a time when Williams' rank-and-file members at General Motors are sharing in the bounty of record North American profits made possible by vehicles built in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, South Korea and China.
It may be politically fashionable now to drape oneself in the flag, but Williams' planned campaign smacks of the bad old days when Detroit couldn't compete on the merits of its products. It needlessly confuses consumers. And it goes against the spirit of the groundbreaking Detroit 3 labor agreements that ended an era of mutually destructive relations.
It would take IBM's Watson to figure out what constitutes an "American" car these days. (A China-made Buick Envision? A Kentucky-built Toyota Camry? A Jeep from Detroit with an engine from Mexico?) And the last thing we need now is a campaign designed to pit one kind of "American" against another. Every car designed, built, exported, imported, sold, resold, repaired, fueled or insured here makes a worthy contribution to the U.S. economy and the well-being of American workers.
The most quintessentially American thing the auto industry has to offer right now is freedom of choice.