The New York Times was forced to hire a foreign professor to do the job American columnists just won’t do: Tell the establishment to trade some of their progressive immigration policies in exchange for votes from the alienated middle-class.
Matthew J. Goodwin, a British professor of politics at the University of Kent, used his NYT op-ed to explain how the establishment in the British left-wing Labour Party is offering curbs on immigration to regain support from the pro-Brexit working-class citizens who switched over to the pro-Brexit Conservative Party in 2016 and 2017:
There is one way forward, but it comes at a cost and will anger progressives. Labour’s resurgent leader, Jeremy Corbyn, hopes to lure workers back by promising to respect the Brexit vote and end the free movement of European Union nationals. His new immigration policy would also include a Migration Impact Fund — to target resources at communities facing high immigration. This is certainly more than [former Labor Prime Minister Tony] Blair ever offered, and it may be enough for Labour to win back a sufficient number of pro-Brexit workers to create a broader electoral coalition …
For those Labour [anti-Brexit] Remainers, this means reconciling with Brexit and giving up on the liberal internationalist aims of a united Europe and open borders. That is the price for remaining electorally relevant and trying to reverse the trend of Labour’s loss of three elections in a row and its failure to win a parliamentary majority in 12 years. In the long run, it will enable Labour to be a player in the battle over Britain’s future, instead of merely a spectator.
That simple suggestion — trade something to get votes from blue-collar and middle-class voters! — is so toxic and foreign that few or no establishment American op-ed writers have dared to even raise the subject.
For example, an August 26 New York Times column by Pete Wehner, a former official in President George W. Bush’s White House, urged the GOP establishment to split away from the voters — but he refused even to suggest that the elite trade some of their goals to get support from the apparently contemptible voters. Instead, the GOP establishment should offer mush — “opportunity, openness, mobility and inclusion” — says Wehner in his op-ed titled “Behold Our ‘Child King’”:
What’s required now is a comprehensive, consistent case by Republican leaders at the state and national levels that signals their opposition to the moral ugliness and intellectual incoherence of Mr. Trump. Rather than standing by the president, they should consider themselves liberated and offer a constructive, humane and appealing alternative to him. They need to think in terms of a shadow government during the Trump era, with the elevation of alternative leaders on a range of matters.
This approach involves risk and may not work. It will certainly provoke an angry response from the Breitbart-alt-right-talk-radio part of the party. So be it. Republicans who don’t share Mr. Trump’s approach have to hope that his imploding presidency has created an opening to offer a profoundly different vision of America, one that is based on opportunity, openness, mobility and inclusion.
This requires a new intellectual infrastructure to address what may prove to be one of the largest economic disruptions in history. People in positions of influence need to make arguments on behalf of principles and ideas that have for too long gone undefended. They must appeal to moral idealism. And the party needs leaders who will fight with as much passionate intensity for their cause as Mr. Trump fights for his.
Like other establishment writers, Wehner can’t give even a passing note of respect for Americans’ demands for reduced immigration, federal support for mainstream conservative culture, wage increases, cheap healthcare, and curbs on the globalist trade which exports jobs and lowers Americans’ wages. He says nothing about boosting productivity or automation, nothing about education reforms, nothing about idealism and solidarity in the face of the elite-cheered race, “gender,” Antifa and ethnic politics, and nothing about government support for free-speech when progressives, the establishment media, and Internet companies try to gag mainstream speech they don’t like.
Same for Dan Balz, the Washington Post’s senior political reporter who never saw Trump’s coalition coming, who trusted the establishment’s immigration polls, and still can’t imagine the establishment having to make a deal with the voters.
His August 19 column consisted of every establishment complaint under the sun about President Donald Trump — but not one hint of a suggestion that maybe the elite should give the voters even a little of what they want, such as reduced immigration, higher wages, a border wall, managed trade, and social cohesion instead of establishment-imposed “diversity.”
“What does the party do if it appears as though the president doesn’t support the leadership in the party?” said a Republican activist, who would not agree to be identified. “How does the party run if the person who supposedly runs the party doesn’t embrace the party? That is a big question. That is a conversation that is out there right now.”
The answer is there is no obvious one, as many Republicans underscored in interviews. Some lawmakers anticipate that individual Republicans will maintain greater distance from the president in public settings and in their rhetoric while focusing more intently on a legislative agenda that remains largely unfulfilled. In essence, that would mean they would begin to chart the party’s course without particular regard for Trump’s priorities.
Just about the only establishment figure who has offered a deal is Edward Conard, a business partner of 2012 loser Mitt Romney, His 2016 book offered voters a minor immigration reform, some trade protectionism and the prospect of growing wages in exchange for submission to Wall Street’s wing of the GOP. Not a good offer, maybe, but an actual offer from an establishment baron to millions of voters. The details of that deal are in Conant’s green-eyeshade economics book, “The Upside of Inequality” — but there is no sign that Wall Street or the Chamber of Commerce are even ready to offer a deal to voters.
There’s even less evidence that America’s proud progressive CEOs are willing to trade some of their priorities — chiefly, their fierce snobbery towards “bigots,” AKA ordinary people who want to be paid well — in exchange for votes from a slice of Trump’s deplorable and irredeemable supporters.
Admittedly, any decent immigration deal would be a big deal — it would shift a greater share of the nation’s annual income back to employees, and away from company profits, investor returns, CEO bonuses and Wall Street values. It would also force progressives to treat their fellow citizens with more respect, partly by paying them higher wages, but also by accepting them as — dare we say it? — social and moral equals.
So back to the Brit who made the remarkable NYT suggestion that progressives should stain their moral purity by making deals with the lumpen citizenry:
The alternative [to a deal] is for Labour to turn up the volume of its attacks on Brexit. But preaching to liberals in London and the university towns will only further alienate the … voters who have developed a penchant for switching their votes. It would also mean that Labour had absolutely no chance of winning a majority and returning to power.
Read it all here.