(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/03/worker-construction-grinder-machiine.jpg)JFK won Macomb County, Michigan in 1960 by 75 percent. In 1980, Reagan won it by 66 percent. This heart of ‘Reagan Democrat’ country was closely split by Gore and Bush and Bush and Kerry… until Obama won it 53 to 45 in 2008 and by 51 to 47 in 2012.
The Republican Party doesn’t need to worry about the Latino vote nearly as much as it should be worrying about its inability to connect with white working class Americans. The pro-amnesty GOP establishment’s electoral vision of a party of corporations and minority voters already exists.
It’s called the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party’s fate in 2016 will be decided in places like Macomb County. It will be decided by white men and women earning $20,000 to $50,000 a year. It will be decided by working families struggling to get by and searching for answers from a government that keeps betraying them.
That is the point that Senator Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator who has stood tallest against amnesty, makes in his National Review article “Becoming the Party of Work.”
Sessions argues that slowing down immigration in a time of tremendous economic turmoil would actually be the populist thing to do. Three to one of those earning under $30,000 want to see reductions in immigration. Instead the Republican Party is alienating them further by championing illegal aliens.
“To open the ears of disaffected voters, the GOP must break publicly from the elite immigration consensus of Wall Street and Davos,” Sessions warns.
Too many Senate Republicans act like members of a globalist party who legislate while detached from the concerns of ordinary working Americans. McCain, the GOP candidate in 2008, and the most aggressive GOP proponent for amnesty in the Senate, whose daughter has made a career of “outreach” to her own class of hip young wealthy people, represents the opposite of what the GOP should be doing.
McCain’s infamous claim, “There are jobs Americans won’t do” was seen as embodying the detachment of the pro-amnesty elite from working Americans struggling to get by.
“Mitt Romney,” Sessions points out, “lost lower- and middle-income voters by an astonishing margin. Among voters earning $30,000 to $50,000, he trailed by 15 points, and among voters earning under $30,000 he trailed by 28 points.”
In 2008, McCain won only 25 percent of voters whose incomes fell below $15,000, 37 percent of voters whose incomes were between $15,000 and $30,000 and 43 percent of voters in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. That is not what a party that aspires to represent the silent majority of Americans looks like.
Inflation has changed income and demographics have changed as well, but still the only income group that Reagan lost in 1984 were in the under $12,500 range and even then it was close. Even in 1980, Reagan did not lose any income group by more than 10 percent.
George W. Bush was able to win back some Reagan Democrats, but the party never again equaled Reagan’s performance.
Senator Sessions however has some proposals for changing that from merging 80 means-tested poverty-assistance and welfare programs into one to be administered by a welfare office that doubles as a job training program to cracking down on corporate outsourcing and repealing ObamaCare.
The Republican Party has been able to put forward a credible pro-business agenda, but it needs a credible pro-worker agenda without assuming that talking about Staples is the same thing as connecting with Staples employees. If it fails to do that, it will be hammered by minimum wage and overtime measures until its voting base is limited to a shrinking upper middle class.
“Wherever the policies of the Left have been faithfully implemented, as in Detroit, human tragedy has followed. The future offered by the Left — a shrinking work force struggling to fund a growing welfare state — is not only unsustainable but uncompassionate. Compassion demands that we spare no effort in helping millions now jobless to realize the dream of financial independence. This is the urgent economic task of the 21st century,” Sessions writes.
The Republican Party has to stop merely running against welfare and start running on opportunity. The left’s response to the GOP’s anti-welfare rhetoric has been to swell the welfare rolls making more and more Americans complicit in the welfare state.
Instead of turning to 47% rhetoric, the critique of a political movement that has given up, it has to reclaim welfare voters and transform them into working voters.
Session’s agenda challenges the GOP to stop trying to plug a work culture hole with immigrants. Instead he urges the Republican Party to “help the millions struggling here today — immigrant and native-born alike — transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.”
Reagan understood that welfare was morally crippling. In his 1985 State of the Union address, he said, “Let us resolve that we will stop spreading dependency and start spreading opportunity; that we will stop spreading bondage and start spreading freedom.”
In a ringing critique of the welfare state, he stated that, “Policies that increase dependency, break up families, and destroy self-respect are not progressive; they’re reactionary. Despite our strides in civil rights, blacks, Hispanics, and all minorities will not have full and equal power until they have full economic power.”
This is the critique that Sessions and David Horowitz return to.
Last year, David Horowitz said that the “historic assault on Detroit’s African American population was absent from all the speeches and all the political ads of all the actors supporting free market solutions in the 2012 elections. The word ‘Detroit’ wasn’t mentioned.”
Amnesty for illegal aliens may be an even bigger assault on both lower income whites and blacks than anything before. Instead of countering it, too many Republicans are providing cover for it. Instead of offering American solutions to American problems, they take refuge in abstract free market ideology.
Sessions confronts the intersection between immigration and unemployment, between the welfare state and the open border and urges the Republican Party to stand up for American workers.
Amnesty is an assault on the economic freedom and opportunity of the voters that the Republican Party needs to win in 2016. The Republican Party has critiqued the Democratic Party’s debt slavery, borrowing trillions to be repaid in the future, but with amnesty the GOP is selling off its base of today in the hopes of buying a new demographic of voters from a new nation.
The United States cannot survive as a welfare nation, but the Republican Party cannot win it back until it relearns how to speak to the national interest instead of the global interest, to the American worker and the American businessman.
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