John Fonte’s excellent piece on the home page adds to the case made by Yuval Levin, Tim Carney, Douthat & Salam, and others for the GOP adopting what Senator Jeff Sessions calls “a humble and honest populism” as the antidote to the perception of conservatism and the Republican party as favoring big business at the expense of working people. Corporate support for big government cronyism, racial preferences, the sovereignty-undermining Law of the Sea treaty, and unlimited immigration (not to mention appeasement of the Soviet Union back in the day) highlight the anti-conservative and post-American nature of today’s big business leadership and point to the need for some daylight between the Right and corporate interests.
A concrete reform program, like that outlined by Senator Mike Lee, is essential to the long-term success of the party. But an important first step is to signal a change in the party’s direction by following Bill Clinton’s lead through a “Sister Souljah–style rebuke of corporate elites,” as Fonte puts it. For those too young to recall (it was 21 years ago, after all), during the 1992 campaign Clinton angered Jesse Jackson and other black leaders by publicly attacking the racist comments of a singer/activist named Sister Souljah, who said during the LA riots, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” In other words, Clinton sought to prove his moderation to voters at large by rejecting an example of extremism from one of his own constituency groups.
The corporate push to double immigration, double the admission of guestworkers, and amnesty millions of illegals without any meaningful steps to prevent the establishment of a new illegal population may not sound as extreme as Sister Souljah’s execrable sentiments, but as a policy matter, it is far more consequential. Explicitly framing the issue not in ethnic terms, as the Left would prefer, but as one of standing in solidarity with working Americans of all backgrounds against plutocrats like Bloomberg, Murdoch, Zuckerberg, and their ilk, would be an important first step in restoring public trust in the GOP. Given the slavish devotion to corporate interests of much of the current Stupid Party leadership, I don’t expect this soon. But Fonte’s piece implicitly makes the case for new leadership that leads the party away from its embrace of post-American rent-seeking capitalists and toward a pro-American free-market populism.