Long before the presidential election, my husband Drew and I booked a trip to Mexico with our children and grandchildren. With the recently scheduled meeting between the president of Mexico and President Donald Trump being un-ceremonially cancelled by our neighbor to the south, I took the opportunity to take the pulse of that country’s feelings about our president and our nation.
Relying on the internationally indisputable, reliable sources on world politics — taxi drivers — I was treated to a variety of very interesting opinions.
One driver expressed a trend prompted by our president’s statements and assertions about Mexican immigrants to the United States that I had not thought, read or heard about.
He said while he personally felt both his president and ours were pretty much “idiots,” he was really pleased by the negative remarks made by Trump about the Mexican people. Drew and I looked at each other in amazement as he continued. The remarks have ignited a strong sense of country, Mexican pride and have prompted a “buy Mexican products, not U.S. products” sentiment.
I asked how widespread this sentiment was. He answered with great certainty that it is growing throughout the country.
Conducting my own purely unscientific survey of other taxi drivers, when asked about this buy-Mexican effort, I was assured that it is indeed a sentiment being widely circulated because of Trump’s perceived vitriol toward the Mexican people.
Another driver, with head shaking in dismay, bemoaned that while Mexico has its own oil, it hasn’t the refineries to process it. So the oil is shipped to the United States. The Mexican people must then buy their gasoline back.
“Pretty dumb, huh? But I hear since Trump’s bad-mouthing our people, Mexican companies are looking into starting refineries here in our country.”
Trump’s very popular campaign pledge to renegotiate all our trade deals, starting with NAFTA, seems on track judging from statements recently made, not only by the president but also by Wilbur Ross, his newly confirmed commerce secretary.
I think taking a fresh look at our trade deals is a good thing. Many are multiple decades old. With the global markets changing at breakneck speed, new terms should be on the table.
But I wonder about our president’s approach. Much has been said about his seemingly impulsive reactions and his blunt verbiage, particularly in regard to comments he has made to and about our allies and neighbors.
Taking my totally unscientific survey of Mexican taxi drivers into account, I wonder if there might be some unforeseen results from the president’s lack of tact and accepted diplomatic practices — results that in the long run might negatively affect our economy?
I continue to watch and listen with great interest to our newly elected president. I am curious to see if his “sock ‘em in the eye first, then start to negotiate” style of the art of the deal will work on the international political stage.