What would seduce putative conservative political leaders in America into making common cause with foreign leftist revolutionary forces? The sad answer is money. It is the influence of Big Business lobbyists who bankroll the Republican Party that keeps open our borders. They believe it is essential for giving them access to cheap labor; by relocating factories to Third World regions and bringing into the U.S. Third World labor to do jobs that cannot be sent overseas.
By William R. Hawkins | February 24, 2014
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue supports Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for President Obama
Jonathan V. Last writing his “Cold Open” column for the Weekly Standard February 5 revived the term “Stupid Party” for the Republicans. John Stuart Mill, a leading 19th century classical liberal is credited with branding conservatives as “stupid” because they weren’t up on the latest intellectual fads that he promoted. This is not what Mr. Last meant.
There were two parts to Last’s criticism. First, why would the Republican leadership rally behind President Obama, a very liberal Democrat President who has been taking a nosedive in national opinion polls? Last’s second point was about giving amnesty to illegal immigrants, but it should have also applied to the proposed grant of “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which was the subject of my prior column. The principles on immigration that the GOP leaders presented to the Congressional rank and file were not as effusive as the statement made supporting the transfer of power over trade policy to the White House on January 9, but it did include a path to the voting booth, the central goal of President Obama and his party. Indeed, according to the Heritage Foundation, the House leadership approach was essentially identical to the wrong-headed bill passed by the Senate. No one who looks at the numbers can possibly conclude anything other than that the new enfranchised foreign voters will give large majorities to the Democrats.
The question that was not asked nor answered by Last was what makes the GOP leadership so stupid? It is not because they cling to traditional values and national loyalties as Mill charged. That would be a good thing. Instead, it is just the opposite. On both the immigration and trade issues, these supposed conservatives have adopted liberal notions about how the world works – or would work better, if only borders were eliminated. No one should be protected (and thus nothing can be conserved) from change sweeping in from the outside world. Leftists have often embraced overseas socialist regimes or declarations from the United Nations as models for transforming the United States. Indeed, their hatred for American society is so intense that they will accept anything that is disruptive. Breaking down the authority of existing institutions and beliefs opens the way to build a New Order on the ashes of the ruined society.
The Cheap Labor Trap
What would seduce putative conservative American political leaders into making common cause with such leftist revolutionary forces? The sad answer is money. As Tucker Carlson observed on Fox News, it is the influence of Big Business lobbyists, who bankroll the Republican Party that keeps open our borders. They believe it is essential for giving them access to cheap labor; by relocating factories to Third World regions and bringing into the U.S. Third World labor to do jobs that cannot be sent overseas.
There is, of course, one strand of American “conservatism” that has always held this view: the antebellum slave-owners who were willing to divide the country to defend their narrow economic interests. They were also “free traders” who preferred to deal with foreign merchants than with Northern ones. Their descendants at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington are even more dangerous because no longer confined to a single part of the country. Indeed, the Midwest-Northeastern core of the Union, whose industrial strength and productive workforce of “free labor” gave President Abraham Lincoln the means to win the American Civil War have been the areas most gutted by the “open border” policies of U.S. Big Business; American corporations which are no longer national, let alone sectional, in allegiance, but rather multinational and global.
The Left Gives Up on the Working Class
A more thoughtful conservatism, however, understands that America’s greatest achievement has been to turn the working class into the middle class. The United States has vanquished the “proletariat” which was to provide the muscle for the socialist uprising. This was not done violently at the barricades, but peacefully in America’s post-World War II suburbs. For decades the Left has been trying to recreate a poor and alienated base that would support radicalism. It has given up on the white “working class.” When labor unions purged communists from their ranks during the Cold War and “hard hats” beat up hippies in the streets during the 1960s protests, the Left realized that a new proletariat had to be found that could be kept from assimilating into the dominant middle class culture. Immigrants were the natural recruiting grounds, especially if they could be sold on “diversity” and cultural isolation rather than assimilation. Racism became central to the Left’s program, rekindling segregation (reinforced where possible by language) and counting on welfare dependence to pile up huge majorities among the descendants of slaves and the new “cheap labor” working poor. These groups were lumped together as “people of color” who could be turned against “Western” society.
The rise of blue-collar Reagan Democrats was the final straw. In 1986, Marxist theoretician Mark Davis called for “a prospective alliance of non-white Americans and Third World revolutionaries, all taking their orders from white Leninists” in his book Prisoners of the American Dream. He saw “a black and Hispanic working class, fifty million strong. This is the nation within a nation, a society within a society that alone has the numerical and positional strength to undermine the American empire from within.” He must have been encouraged in his vision by the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to illegals who were in the country prior to 1982; underestimated to be 3 million people. That bi-partisan measure was supposed to settle the immigration issue, but it did not as the “control” part of the bill was never effectively implemented. The “reform” part only called forth further assaults on the U.S. border and on U.S. laws. A second edition of Davis’ book was published in 2010 by Verso.
It is not mere coincidence that with the hope for “comprehensive immigration reform” with a “path to citizenship” at its peak, President Obama ramped up his “class war” rhetoric about “income inequality, expanded food stamp programs and higher minimum wage rates. He can almost taste the increased power the extension of the franchise to millions of illegals will bring to the American Left.
Unlikely Allies: Big Business and the Socialist Left
Yet, it has been Big Business in the U.S. which has enabled leftist intellectuals and community organizers to dream of becoming the vanguard of the revived proletariat. Though firms want middle class customers, they do not want to pay their own employees middle class incomes. They have sent millions of jobs to China, transferring wealth and technology to a rising geopolitical rival of the United States, merely to cut labor costs. And to do jobs that cannot be outsourced, they favor importing cheap workers to substitute for Americans who expect decent treatment. As the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has reported, “Immigrants overwhelmingly filled blue-collar jobs (operators, fabricators, and laborers) but also accounted for as much as half the growth in categories such as administrative support and services….It also means that as immigrants entered these occupations, native workers exited.” With one-in-six men between the ages of 25 and 54 having no jobs, and the pool of discouraged workers growing, there is no economic reason to increase immigration. Common sense supports the Congressional Budget Office analysis that with amnesty, ‘average wages would be slightly lower than under current law through 2024.” While most people would find such a conclusion to be an argument against the bill; it is exactly the result that motivates the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to work harder for passage.
House Speaker John Boehner’s push for action on immigration amnesty seems to have been slowed by the push-back he has received from the rank-and-file in the Republican caucus, representing the core voter base of the party. However, Big Business lobbyists in the halls and left-wing protesters in the streets will redouble their efforts to get the last words in on the issue as Congress moves into summer session. A handful of bought-and-paid for “Chamberpot Republicans” could join with the Democrats to pass amnesty in the House as happened in the Senate, if Boehner opens the path to the floor.
The High Cost of Cheap Labor
Of course, this kind of labor is not really “cheap” for the rest of society. As work done by the Heritage Foundation has shown, immigrants are heavy users of welfare and other public services. They do so because they are the “working poor” whose incomes must be subsidized to allow them to survive. Business is simply shifting the cost of labor from their books to the pockets of taxpayers. Thus, Americans not only lose job opportunities, they must pay to help the very people who took their jobs. That’s the business program that is undermining the U.S. economy both at home and in world markets – not that Big Business cares anything for what happens to this country (or any country or any party).
Cheap labor is also expensive for the Republican Party. People vote their wallets even when they are empty. Two policies that the GOP leadership has embraced under pressure from Big Business have been largely responsible for the collapse of The Emerging Republican Majority laid out by Kevin Phillips over forty years ago. An open borders attitude towards low wage immigration and manufactured imports changed the demographic trend in California and undermined living standards in the industrial heartland. GOP presidential candidates no longer even bother to campaign in California, the largest state in the union and a state Phillips thought was trending more Republican than the rest of the country during the Nixon years. A rising Hispanic vote has also changed Illinois from a swing state into a Blue state. The loss of millions of jobs associated with manufacturing has devastated Midwest communities, breeding the kind of economic insecurity that the Democrats love to exploit and alienating the Reagan Democrats.
The GOP has offered nothing to displaced industrial workers. Indeed, with the party’s opposition to saving the American auto industry, it kicked once solid Republican Ohio into the Obama camp in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. The GOP has fallen far from the days when William McKinley could move from governor of Ohio to the White House on the promise of protecting American industry and labor from foreign rivals.
Defending a Conservative Society
Importing poverty is not a recipe for national prosperity or conservative politics. The irony is that in the long run it is not even good for the Big Business interests who drive the process. To many businessmen, cutting labor costs by reducing wage levels seems expedient. But if these same workers vote they will get their revenge by supporting candidates who promise to redistribute income and bring the “greedy” business community to “social justice.” The great economic thinker Joseph Schumpeter feared that socialism would triumph through democracy even though it was inferior to capitalism in performance. In his seminal book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter noted, “We have seen that the industrialist and the merchant, as far as they are entrepreneurs, also fill a function of leadership. But economic leadership of this type does not readily expand…into the leadership of nations. On the contrary, the ledger and the cost calculation absorb and confine.”
Capitalism is a way to organize economic activity. It is, however, only a means to an end. The end is a secure and stable society with a broad middle class exhibiting sound values. Republican leaders need to throw off the green eyeshades and think like conservative statesman rather than corporate lackeys. They need to look at the larger national picture. As Schumpeter observed, Americans have favored restrictions on trade (and immigration) because they “wish to build and keep a world of their own” – an inherently conservative endeavor. Anyone who claims to be on the right, let alone lead the right, needs to embrace this view.
William R. Hawkins, a former economics professor and Congressional staffer, is a consultant specializing in international economics and national security issues. He is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.