Are you a commodity, or an American? An economic unit, or a human being, a child of God, even?
It’s good that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R-AL) is asking these questions, because the elites in both parties already have their answers: They do, indeed, see the American people as mere “commodities,” implying that Americans have no particular special value.
Moreover, they further think that if we are just fungible commodities, there’s no reason we can’t be manipulated for their political and economic purposes.
The flashpoint issue, of course, is the border, and whether or not it should be adequately guarded against the slow-motion onslaught from the rest of the world. As Sessions put it in an exclusive June 22 op-ed for Breitbart News, “No issue better illustrates the current divide between everyday citizens and our political and business elites than the issue of immigration.”
Indeed, this wide divide holds true for the elites of both parties.
On the left, Democratic elites see the American people as a commodity to be subsumed, politically, as part of an ambitious multicultural, post-nationalist experiment. In fact, since the Reagan years, the left has not been particularly happy with the American people–too many Republican victories.
And so the left then set about fixing its electoral problem, through a simple expedient: opening the floodgates. And the Democrats have had considerable success with their demographic-change strategy: California, for example, has gone from being a mostly Republican state–the GOP carried it in nine of ten presidential elections from 1952 to 1988–to being a solidly Democratic state; the GOP has lost it, badly, in the last six presidential elections.
Meanwhile, on the right, Republican elites see the American people as a commodity to be superseded, economically, as part of a relentless wage-cutting effort. And that’s worked, too; imported labor has driven down wage costs. In strict terms of economic efficiency, the market has cleared–although, of course, much of the middle class has now been demoted down to working class. In other words, a Reverse American Dream.
One might think that in partisan terms, the interests of Democrats and Republicans would counter-balance each other out. That is, D’s would worry about the well-being of “the people” and thus block excessive immigration, while R’s would worry about the well-being of their party and thus block a flood of new Democratic voters.
Yet in fact, the two parties’ elites have reached a sort of cynical entente: “blue” politicos get the votes, and “red” business bosses get the lower wages. In other words, for different reasons, the top interests in both parties are happily in on the deal.
But as Sessions points out, there’s a bigger interest that neither party’s elites seem worried about: the people of the United States. As he asks,
What about Americans who need jobs? Human beings are not commodities. We need to get our own workers off of unemployment and into good-paying jobs that can support their families. That means if a job is hard or strenuous, employers should raise wages and improve working conditions-why shouldn’t Americans who do tough work get paid more for their efforts?
It’s not often these days that a Republican talks like that–about the importance of tightening labor markets and thus boosting wages. Sure, Republicans want to cut everyone’s taxes, but the reality for millions of hard-pressed Americans is that they need a good job even more than they need a small tax cut.
Yet thanks to the efforts of Sessions, and a few pundits and radio-talk show hosts such as Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, the Republican Party, at least, is starting to rise up–not only against GOP incumbents, but also against the reigning Big Business culture.
Earlier this month, a populist ballot-box revolution pushed Rep. David Brat (R-VA), a border-closer, to victory over the pro-amnesty Rep. Eric Cantor in a Virginia GOP primary. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) of Mississippi pushed back a strong Tea Party challenger, St. Sen. Chris McDaniel, in a primary runoff that reeked of elite out-of-state money, muscle–and Democratic votes. That is, the national elites set out to buy an election on behalf of their man Cochran–and that’s what they did. Cochran got his win, but in so winning, vindicated every insurgent argument about the true nature of the Cochran Class, and all its cynical ruthlessness.
In those two contests, Virginia and Mississippi, the Tea Party won one, and the Establishment won one–although again, by most accounts, the Establishment won mean, if not dirty.
So now, a third high-profile intra-party challenge. Searching to make it two out of three, Tea Party insurgency is turning its eyes to the Tennessee primary in August, in which State Rep. Joe Carr is strongly challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for his incumbent seat.
Indeed, Carr, a border-closer, is sounding a lot like Brat–and Sessions. As Carr told Breitbart News‘ Stephen K. Bannon on Sirius/XM recently, the elites are still, even now, pushing “comprehensive immigration reform”:
There’s this arrogance about these people who stay in Washington. The arrogance that they say–you know what, it doesn’t matter that they are flooding our labor markets with unskilled labor and driving down American wages, it doesn’t matter as long as we cater to the United States Chamber of Commerce.
A Republican attacking business? Targeting the mighty Chamber? In fact, it’s hard to imagine a Republican Party that isn’t staunchly pro-free enterprise and pro-business, but at the same time, the realization has crept in that the GOP needs a more proper balance between the interests of big business, small business–and workers. For an ambitious politician, campaign cash is nice, but actually winning elections is nicer. And for an American patriot, protecting the wellbeing of the nation is the nicest of all.
After all, true conservatism is about more than commodities. The free market is great for efficiently allocating “factors of production,” but people can’t be treated only as production-units without, as a result, destructive social consequences. That is, any viable economic system must be solidly rooted in the solid of the society itself.
Capitalists should understand that you need a fully functioning civil society, as well as an economy. That’s why we need a wise political system, to help create an ever more perfect union. And blessedly, thanks to the Founders, we have had such a system–even if it is today under siege.
The Preamble to the Constitution lays it all out. It enshrines “liberty,” but it also, in the same 52 words, emphasizes other goals, too, including “justice,” “domestic tranquility,” “the common defense,” and the “general welfare.” These are obviously non-economic values, bespeaking the Founders’ desire to build an enduring political system–a novo ordus seclorum, a new order for the ages.
And yet American history shows that if these values prevail, the economy, too, flourishes. A secure and free country, populated by hard-working and smart people, naturally becomes rich. It’s axiomatic: You can’t have prosperity if your country suffers from banditry.
So we can see the need for a balanced system, in which the rights of the individual are matched with the imperative of basic security and national survival. Achieving all that was a stern challenge in 1787, when Ben Franklin proclaimed that yes, the new Constitution had created a new republic–but only if we Americans could keep it.
The keeping of that republic over the last three centuries has been the great work of great leaders–none of whom saw the American people as merely an economic commodity. The fighting heroes of Bunker Hill and Bastogne, of Khe Sanh and Kandahar, did not see themselves as economistic factors of production; they saw themselves as citizen-soldiers, defending a way of life that was about more than money.
Instead, they were risking, and even sacrificing, their lives for something more. As Abraham Lincoln put it, they were giving their all for the American nation, for “mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave.”
By contrast, purist Libertarianism is an abstract vision that transcends peoples and borders. That’s a nice utopian theory–of the world made into one by free trade and open borders–but it’s not a plan for actually running a nation. A nation needs patriotism aimed at protecting a people and their culture. Liberty means nothing without security and sovereignty.
If we, as Americans, can’t manage to privilege ourselves over other peoples of all the other countries of the world, then we won’t be a country for very long. Indeed, America will not only cease to exist as a united country, but she will be overcome by countries.
The post-communist Russians and the Chinese, for example, don’t think they exist to advance any particular ideology; they exist to advance the national interests of Russia and China. In a confrontation with either country–or with Iran, ISIS, or any other threatening power–the physical sanctity of America will not be based on theories and abstractions. We need sturdy weapons and soldiers, made in the USA.
Indeed if we can’t defend ourselves, then someday, all the sacred monuments in America will be just historical footnotes; that is, quaint little items on a future tourist map written in a foreign tongue.
Back in 2007, Mike Huckabee spoke of “vertical politics,” by which he meant that the real split is often top vs. bottom, not left vs. right. As Huckabee put it, “Ultimately, people don’t care about whether an issue comes from the left or the right, what they want to hear about is an idea that lifts America up and makes us better.” In a way, Huckabee was anticipating Sessions’ argument: The elites and the masses are not always, to put it mildly, on the same side.
Huckabee, who strongly opposed “comprehensive immigration reform,” ultimately fell short in the 2008 presidential campaign, in part because the Republican elites were enraptured with the open-borders-policies of the Bush 43 administration. Back then, the GOP was happy to be persuaded that securing Mesopotamia was far more important than securing Arizona. (And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), of course, still feels that way.)
Indeed, it’s possible that even now the GOP elite is still planning an “Amnesty Surprise,” although, fortunately, each insurgent primary victory makes that prospect less likely.
Yet in the meantime, Democratic strategists still dream of their “coalition of the ascendant,” by which they mean, again, a newly enlarged and “improved” American electorate. And quietly, plenty of top Republicans, and their business allies, still stand ready to help them.
Indeed, just on Tuesday, as Breitbart News reported, Mark Zuckerberg’s bipartisan amnesty front group, Fwd.us, announced yet another push for their open-borders goal. Indeed, the group’s president, Joe Green, volunteered that the new #2 and #3 GOP leaders in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), “have indicated their support for fixing our fundamentally broken system multiple times.” Green might as well have said, “I have McCarthy and Scalise in my back pocket.” Green might be spinning, of course, but his words are a reminder to the grassroots–vigilance is always needed.
Yes, it might be the same dolorous scenario, especially after Cochran’s victory: Democratic elites still want better voters, and for their part, Republican elites still want cheaper workers.
In a democracy, where in theory the people are sovereign, these are harsh charges to hurl against those in the commanding heights of our government, but Sessions has his proof. As the Alabaman explains,
The phrase “immigration reform” has been thoughtlessly applied to any legislation that combines amnesty with dramatic future increases to our record supply of labor. This is the singular vision championed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. It therefore falls on the shoulders of Republicans to stand alone as the one party representing the interests of everyday working Americans.
Yes, the battle for America–as a great country, as opposed to merely a commodity–is far from over.
The patriotic grassroots of today’s Republican Party do, indeed, have a rendezvous with destiny–with or without the help of their purported leaders. Indeed, that rendezvous with destiny might well recall a rolling over of many of those leaders.
Fortunately, the American people–made up of flesh and blood, hearts and souls, not commodities at all–are strong. And providentially, they have a few champions of their own.
One of the best of them is Jeff Sessions. In taking on the elites of both parties on the immigration issue, he and his allies are fighting battles, and winning victories, that are echoing across the country.