We knew it was coming. Remember, several years ago, when Trump, and Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan were all blathering about the great economic progress the Republican party was producing by bringing in Foxconn to the state? They were going to create all these new jobs and trigger an economic renaissance in the entire midwest. I recall watching Wisconsin going down the tubes, instead, compared to Minnesota, which did not fall for the Republican hokum…but it did help turn their state red. It still is. It’ll be interesting to see how the state goes next month.
Because Foxconn was nothing but a lie, yet another Republican grift. They got billions of dollars in subsidies, and there’s nothing to show for it.
That vision got Gou regular access to the White House during a trade war and gave Trump a groundbreaking and almost a ribbon-cutting, too. But maintaining the mirage required a culture of secrecy. Employees were warned not to talk to the press (including, specifically, me). Many were afraid to speak — afraid of getting fired, or of retribution even after they’d left. Publicly, the company issued announcement after announcement — innovation centers, career fairs, smart cities, AI 8K+5G, the AI Institute — each one erasing the memory of the last missed deadline. (One employee quipped that one of the few things Foxconn succeeded in making in Wisconsin was press releases.) The illusion was defended by GOP officials at all levels of government, from Mount Pleasant to the State Assembly to the White House, who accused anyone pointing out that the project was off track of trying to scuttle it for partisan ends, as if the existence of the factory were open to debate and positive thinking might make it real.
But in actual reality, the project has succeeded in manufacturing mostly this: an endless supply of wonderful things for the President to promise his supporters. This past weekend, in an interview with a local Wisconsin TV station, Trump insisted Foxconn had built “one of the most incredible plants I’ve ever seen” in Mount Pleasant and would keep its promises and more if he was reelected. “They will do what I tell them to do,” he said. “If we win the election, Foxconn is going to come into our country with money like no other company has come into our country.”
No one wanted to believe promises like this more than the people who went to work for Foxconn in Wisconsin. They each came to regret different things: the wasted time, the jobs they’d left, the integrity lost making deals and offering jobs only to have the company change course. But one common theme was frustration that it hadn’t turned out to be real and that long after they’d learned the truth, they saw the facade still standing. “There are a lot of good people who fell for this,” said one employee, shortly before departing a job at Foxconn. “Who wanted to see it succeed.”
At least awareness is slowly emerging. Ryan and Walker are out, let’s hope Trump gets 86’ed next.