First thing’s first, this is not another story about NAFTA, family separations, or imaginary walls – at least, not in the usual vein of negativity.
No, this is a positive story about an underdog senatorial candidate who is shining through the fog of immigration, trade, and wall building rhetoric, leading a steamrolling campaign that is focused on strengthening the country’s relationship with Mexico – Mr. Beto O’Rouke.
This congressman from El Paso is the exact opposite of Trump. Where Trump wants to destroy NAFTA, O’Rourke intends to improve it. Where Trump is content with separating families, O’Rourke is highlighting the urgency of reuniting them. And where Trump wants to build a massive wall, O’Rourke is introducing legislation to prevent it happening.
An end to NAFTA would be terrible for the nearly 1 million jobs in our state that are connected to trade with Mexico. 1 out of every 4 Texas jobs depend on trade with our southern neighbor. https://t.co/tnXwJ3cAv7
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 30, 2018
Judging from recent developments in his campaign, this defiant approach seems to working.
Five Years Later, His Message Remains Relevant
Nearshore Americas spoke with Rep. O’Rourke in 2013, when he first voiced with us his message of cooperation and the country’s reliance on a cross-border relationship with Mexico – something that has remained constant.
“Showing what’s positive and how important the border is rather than focusing on [security] issues is crucial,” he said in the interview. “A good relationship with Mexico is critical to the success of the United States.”
O’Rourke also referenced a common misconception that border communities are unsafe, violent places. In fact, El Paso has often recorded the lowest crime ranking in the US. “Border communities are much safer than they were years ago,” he said. “The fact that El Paso is the safest city in the US disproves this myth that the border is insecure.”
If only Trump’s voter base had listened to reason a few years later.
Flash forward to today and O’Rourke’s message is clearly making waves with US citizens. The Democratic nominee for the US Senate in Texas raised US$10.4 million between April and June from nearly 216,000 individual contributors, and not a dime of that came from political action committees (PACs).
Compare that to incumbent Republican Ted Cruz, who reportedly only raised US$4 million in the same period, according to the Washington Examiner.
For this cycle of Senate candidates, Beto O’Rourke’s total numbers have been high enough to place him among the country’s top fundraisers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In predicting the direction that Mexico-US trade winds will blow next, these numbers really speak for themselves – if the Texan population is personally funding a senatorial candidate who is campaigning on cross-border collaboration, increased bilateral trade, and rights for Mexican immigrants, then Washington’s antagonistic proposals are clearly falling on deaf ears.
A Relationship worth Mending
Bilateral trade between Mexico and the US is worth US$1.5 billion a day and half a trillion dollars a year, according to numerous studies. This is not lost on either country.
In March this year, Mexico and the US signed three accords on customs border cooperation, with both countries agreeing to implement joint cargo inspection programs.
Still, huge trade figures and developments like this haven’t stopped Trump from attacking Mexico to get his political base riled up – he is still threatening walls, tariffs, deportation, and the end of NAFTA. Just last month he imposed a 25% tariff on Mexican steel imports, showing that his administration does have the capacity to follow through on these promises.
But has Mexico lost interest in Trump’s continuous taunts? Has the US President become “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in its neighbor’s eyes? Apparently so.
“[Mexico’s position on trade migration and security] will not vary, neither because of offensive rhetoric, nor because of unilateral and unjustified measures of this kind,” said Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, cited by the New York Times.
In this environment, it’s no wonder Beto O’Rourke is slamming home runs with the voter base in Texas, as the nationalist threats that are spewing from Washington are far from the reality of the day to day down at the Mexican border.
For those of you invested in Nearshore and the cross-border collaboration that the industry depends on, it may be wise to avert your gaze from the orange monstrosity in the White House and pay attention to progressive politicians like Beto O’Rourke, because its individuals like him who will help this industry to continue thriving.