Must Be the Party for the Working Class

11.14.12

Amnesty Alone Won't Fix the GOP

Read Fred Bauer's breakdown of the exit polls where he explains some troubling information. The GOP is losing ground with the working class during an era when the working class is expanding. The most concerning passage is his conclusion:

The Republican shortfall with the working class in 2012 was due not simply to the nominee’s personal background but to wider issues with Republican policies. In the wake of a decade of lost economic ground and the near-meltdown of 2008, many non-affluent voters seem to have a deep distrust of the ability of Republican policies to work for them. Romney’s poor showing among this demographic underlines the fact that Republicans have not yet found an antidote to this distrust. Further tax cuts will not counter it, nor will promises to end Obamacare. As Ross Douthat suggested the other day, the concerns of average Americans are not the same today as they were in 1979, so Republican policies will have to change with them. By the end of the campaign, Governor Romney was beginning to tout a more forward-looking economic message, one that emphasized industrial renewal, energy development, and middle-class restoration. It was this message that made the election as close as it became on November 6.

Moving economic discussions beyond a fetishization of tax cuts need not be a surrender to the Left. There are, after all, authentically conservative responses to financial consolidation, deindustrialization, escalating health-care costs, soaring energy prices, and middle-class decline. It seems clear that, if Republicans cannot craft a message and a policy platform that speak to the needs of many in the middle and working classes, their ability to form a national governing coalition will remain in doubt. (It’s worth noting that Democrats may even have won a majority of the aggregate popular vote for the House.)

What does not seem so clear, however, is how an expansive legalization of current illegal workers, and the new wave of illegal labor such a legalization would be likely to initiate, could improve the economic prospects of the working class or win them over to the Republican side. There might be other reasons to support an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but hopes that such an amnesty will be an electoral panacea are misguided. Perhaps the most promising strategy for winning over native-born and immigrant voters alike would be for Republicans to put forward policies that speak to the needs of the vast economic middle and of economic strivers of all income levels.