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Featured image: Screenshot from Kevin Rinke's Twitter Account. Fair use, commentary.

Cars

No, Kevin Rinke, We Aren’t Going To Force You To Drive A Yugo

This freedom-loving Republican thinks a failed brand from a company that got bailed out by public funds is a great example of the GOP.

A recent article at Jalopnik alerted me to an extremely dumb ad in the upcoming governor’s race in Michigan. A “conservative businessman” named Kevin Rinke, whose family ran car dealerships uses cars to show us what he thinks of himself and the incumbent Democratic governor. He’s the GTO, and of course, Governor Whitmer is the Yugo. The Yugo is also used as stand-in for every communist bogeyman the Republicans are pulling out for the midterms.

If you’ve followed me as a writer at all, you’ll know that I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a member of the Green Party, either. So I’m not going to approach the Kevin Rinke ad from either of those angles. As an independent who came from a conservative household, I want to do what I usually do: point out just how absurd this is on its own lack of merits.

Thinking Past The Sale

In some ways, this political ad reminds me of one I wrote about a couple of months ago. That time, Marjorie Greene wanted us to think that guns represent freedom and a busted Toyota Prius represents everyone who disagrees with her on anything. The trick was to get her opponents so distracted by the gun that we allow her to convince conservatives that we want to force everyone to drive a Prius. Many on the left fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Truth be told, the Prius wasn’t a bad vehicle. It wasn’t as slow as many people think, and avoiding buying more fuel from Southwest Asia during the War on Terror was a pretty patriotic thing to do. But the oil companies successfully convinced many people that the Prius was an attack on everything from freedom to masculinity. Even now, with hybrid technology largely becoming obsolete, it’s still used as an example of “green = bad.”

A similar tactic is being used here, but without the paranoia that Greene usually injects into things. The Yugo, which has a bad reputation it probably doesn’t deserve, is being used to represent anything Kevin doesn’t like. The difference this time is that instead of just tricking people into thinking past the sale, he’s using a false choice to drive it home.

A False Choice

In 1992, he might have had a point. But, then again, conservatives would love to drag us back into the 90s. While they were busy telling us everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to MC Hammer was destroying society with sin, it really was a high point for them. Getting something like the Defense of Marriage Act (which banned federal recognition of gay marriage at a time when no state allowed gay marriage) through Congress and signed by a president would be impossible today, but it was done easily back then. The SUV craze that peaked in 2007 was just getting started. Muscle cars could still be had for relatively cheap, and the only relatively green cars were penalty boxes like the Geo Metro and, of course, the Yugo.

Truth be told, the Yugo wasn’t a terrible car. Sure, it wasn’t as nice as the average $10,000 car of the day, but it was available for less than half the price and got almost 30 MPG (an impressive figure back then). That’s a pretty good value proposition. If we want to bash the Yugo on build quality, let’s keep in mind that many cheap American cars of the era were just as bad, if not worse. Comparable American cars weren’t any faster, either. It stayed on sale for 16 years after it was discontinued in the States, so it really couldn’t have been that terrible.

But even if we accept the idea that Yugos were the worst car ever made, it’s still 2021, and both the Yugo and the GTO have been off showroom floors for decades. It’s pretty rare to even see antique examples on the road, and both are starting to become something an eccentric collector would pick up for fun. It isn’t the 80s or the 90s anymore.

If Anything, We’ll Make You Drive Something Fast & American (But We Probably Still Won’t)

Today, in 2021, the biggest selling clean vehicle in the United States isn’t a Geo Metro, nor is it a Prius, or any other penalty box. It’s actually the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y. Like them or hate them, they’re fast, they run on American fuel, and they’re basically the most American cars you can buy today in terms of both manufacture and parts content. It practically drips patriotism.

But nobody is forcing anybody to buy a Tesla, even if it’s probably the most conservative and patriotic car you could buy. No state has banned gas-powered vehicles, and even places that want to do this aren’t going to do it for at least a decade. Even then, nobody is going to force the GTO or other muscle cars off the road. The most aggressive proposals all apply to new vehicles only, and would allow people to drive their existing gas cars for as long as they want. Even in future decades, it wouldn’t make much sense to force people to scrap antique cars, as they’re a tiny fraction of what’s on the road and don’t affect the environment that much.

Say what you want about Democratic Party policies outside of automobiles. It’s a free country, at least in theory. Nobody will put you away for speaking out against mask mandates, lockdowns, the gay agenda, underground cities where Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of children and then exits through a secret door in a pizzeria, or even Jewish space lasers that set forests on fire in California (yes, these are all real conspiracy theories).

Just don’t go saying or implying that we’re going to force you to drive a Yugo. That is, unless you’re referring to this electric Yugo concept. If you don’t want to drive an American car with tons of torque, an electric Yugo that’s faster than a stock GTO was could be just the hot hatch you’re looking for, right?

Rendering by Dejan Hristov, Creative Commons Attribution License.

Featured image: Screenshot from Kevin Rinke’s Twitter Account. Fair use, commentary.

 
 
 
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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: https://twitter.com/JenniferSensiba

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