The Corner

Politics & Policy

Establishment Republicans and the Serfdom Solution

In response to Derb’s Movie Cover Story

Senator Ron Johnson has proposed a bill for “state-based” guest workers: People would be brought into America not as prospective citizens but as temporary workers who are bound to the land. Who knew that the solution to America’s persistent decline in labor-force participation among the prime-aged was to import people to work as serfs?

This is hot on the tail of the suggestion by Michigan’s Republican governor Rick Snyder to have 50,000 additional visas for the Detroit area. That makes sense. Detroit has lost population, and guest workers are people. Obviously, Detroit would not have had its recent (as in the past 50 years) problems if America had a welcoming immigration policy.

Except that since 1960, as America has welcomed the largest wave of immigration in our country’s history, the population of Detroit has declined by over 50 percent.

That just shows the genius of Johnson and Snyder. Immigration didn’t save Detroit, because those immigrants (both legal and illegal) could move anyplace they wanted. Detroit would have been saved if the immigrants had been bound to the land and forced to live in Detroit no matter how many times they had been mugged.

The only weakness in this line of thinking is that Johnson and Snyder are thinking too small. Why should only a small fraction of the immigrant population be subject to these wonderful rules? How much better off would Detroit have been if none of its residents had ever been allowed to leave? The feudalization of American labor opens up many new and exciting possibilities.

The good news is that Johnson and Snyder are liars. They aren’t monsters who would create a new serf class in America. They would never support the kind of “fugitive worker” laws (as someone on Twitter called it) that would make state-based visas enforceable. Nobody would want to arrest, jail, and deport an otherwise legal house painter just for moving from northern Massachusetts to southern New Hampshire.

Johnson and Snyder (and, one suspects, most elected Republican officeholders) just want a backdoor to increase immigration. They need to lie and obfuscate because they know that increasing immigration is opposed by between 85 and 79 percent of the American public.

Part of me admires the pure self-destructive obsession of the Republican establishment. They just lost their party to a ridiculous demagogue because they insisted on supporting unpopular policies like cutting taxes on high-earners and increasing immigration. So, what do they do?

The original House of Representatives plan to replace Obamacare might as well have been designed to repulse Obama voters who switched to support Trump. Do you know why these swing-voters aren’t tied to either party? Because neither party establishment likes them.

The amazing thing about the Republican establishment is they never grow in response to events. If they are beaten badly enough, they retreat. They pretend to go along. Most of them even endorsed Trump. But they never learn. The first chance they get, the moment they think the public isn’t looking, they are out there proposing high-earner tax cuts and immigration increases. They sometimes cringe, but they never change. Like the French aristocrats (who knew a thing or two about serfdom), the establishment Republicans learn nothing and forget nothing.

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