If Donald Trump wants to cede the affluent suburbs to the Democrats and lose the support of an even greater proportion of the formerly Republican white professional class, he could hardly do better than threatening people’s Audis and BMWs. Where I live in the Philly suburbs, the Republicans are already on the verge of losing at least three House seats, and it seems like approximately a third of the vehicles on the road would match the description of being “German luxury cars.”
Several U.S. and European diplomats told the news outlets that Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron about his plans last month during a state visit.
Trump reportedly told Macron that he would maintain the ban until no Mercedes-Benz cars are seen on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Shares of Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen were lower on Thursday, shortly after the weekly German business magazine published the report.
Of course, some of these cars are actually manufactured in America, so this wouldn’t cause a complete blackout of all makes of German luxury cars. On a substantive level, if we ignore the fallout from reciprocal actions that Germany would take, this could result in more car manufacturing jobs in America. German carmakers could open new or more plants here to avoid the importation ban, and American carmakers might be able to expand if they gain a greater share of the luxury car market. There’s a political upside in the sense that it would give Trump more credibility when he casts himself as a populist who doesn’t cater to rich people and their car preferences.
But, overall, this looks like a policy that would do some really serious damage to Republicans in some of the swingiest districts in the country.