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Dear Apple, Americans aren't in love with 'America First'

Commentary: The president has long been pressing Apple to manufacture here. Is that what Americans want? A new survey suggests it might not be.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


In the left corner, America First. In the right corner, Tim Cook.

Drew Angerer, Getty Images

He's suggested boycotting Apple products.

He's said he'll force Apple to manufacture its "damn computers and things" in the US. Presumably, the "things" also refers to its damn iPhones.

President Donald Trump, you see, believes in "America First." (And, some say, Russia close behind.)

Is this, though, what Americans actually want?

A new survey by NPR and Ipsos offers some interesting thoughts about the American psyche with respect to our relations with the rest of the world.

The survey focused on foreign policy. However, pressing Apple and other companies to manufacture in the US is a foreign and economic policy position. It's surely not a free trade position.

What, then, did Americans say about this "America First" thing?

Only 41 percent of respondents overall agreed that "American foreign policy should focus on enriching America and Americans."

Yes, 57 percent of Republicans thought it should. However, those pesky independents and Democrats brought the number down.

The survey also asked specifically about the slogan "America First."

There was considerable division between those who thought it was about taking care of business at home first and "putting the welfare and focus on our people."

Others, however, thought it "short-sighted" or "xenophobic."

This is the problem executives have with making important decisions in the Trump era. They could decide to throw the government a bone or two. They could even conclude it's best to contribute wholesale to a changing of the world order.

This survey, however, suggests the public's feelings about "America First" simply aren't that strong.

Indeed, 42 percent of Americans actually believe that American foreign policy should prioritize promoting democracy and human rights in other countries.

A surprisingly small proportion -- 24 percent -- say that American foreign policy should look out for Americans, even if it harms people in other countries. This, despite a mere 40 percent believing that we're still the dominant foreign power in the world.

It appears, then, that we're a little more sanguine about the state of the world and perhaps not quite as selfish as we appear.

Some believe that if Apple decided to manufacture the iPhone in the US, it would cost twice as much. Well, if rumors that the iPhone 8 will cost $1,000 are true, that would be a $2,000 phone. Would many be happy about that?

Apple has always insisted that its primary focus is the customer. And, yes, this is just one survey of 1,009 adults conducted May 15-16. I wonder, though, whether Cupertino has made calculations about how popular US manufacture of its products really would be. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many might conclude that we always have high ideals, but when it comes down to money, we'll always take the selfish option. Perhaps, though, even our high ideals aren't all that high anymore.

We've come to accept that the world is something of an ugly place and we'll just try and deal with it the best we can. As long as it doesn't cost us too much, that is.