John Rich is part of country duo Big and Rich. The song looks at the automotive industry crisis around 2008-2009, and juxtaposes this situation with the government bailouts of Wall Street and financial institutions.
Given that Rich has campaigned for Republicans, the message of the song has caused some confusion – that he’d sing for the working class when he’s behind a party stereotyped as being captive to those much better off. However, Shuttin’ Detroit Down could be rejecting the “crony capitalism” of Wall Street – firms interested in taking risks knowing they’d be saved by government. This close relationship would be contrary to the spirit of a free market. And is against the principle of fair treatment of all – the kind of treatment Detroit auto workers were not receiving…
Mind you, the “Big Three” car companies, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, did receive government support, including loans. General Motors even became owned by the USA as the majority shareholder.
All in all, perhaps this somewhat complicated explanation can be excused by noting “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” may be more nuanced than typical country songs.