In the search to track down the traitors who are selling out our country to hordes of foreigners, conservatives can mislead themselves into targeting primarily "cultural Marxists" — those who loathe Western, white, male, hetero culture, and want to replace it with something superior based on its opposites.
Not that that crowd isn't on board with amnesty and immigration, of course they are. But a bunch of limp-dick intellectuals in San Francisco don't have the wealth, power, and influence to control political and economic activity at the highest level. They only serve the powerful by providing an intellectual basis for the policies that were going to take place anyway, to make them sound like a logical necessity rather than a naked power play.
Culture-war conservatives should sober up by looking at the twin policy of immigration — off-shoring, especially of labor but also of tax status. It isn't only hordes of foreigners flooding in, but boatloads of jobs setting sail for far-flung dirt-floor countries. If immigration policy were primarily about replacing the native population with a foreign population more to the liking of the powerful, then why not bring all those beneficiaries of off-shoring right here to the USA?
The answer is that sometimes it's cheaper for their employers to bring the foreigners here, and sometimes cheaper to keep them where they are over there. A contractor who hires dry-wall workers cannot off-shore those jobs to Mexico, India, or China, because the dry-wall work must be done right here. Same with strawberry pickers, meat packers, fast food workers, lawn cutters, and leaf blowers.
But if the work can be done at a distance, the employers are happy to send the work overseas without the whole troublesome business of importing foreign workers to America (like having to pay them based more on the American vs. Indian cost of living). Answering phone calls to customer service and writing computer code naturally lend themselves to distance work. So does manufacturing, as long as shipping the goods here isn't too expensive (shipped in bulk, protected and organized efficiently through modern containerization). This includes industrial products, consumer electronics, and pharmaceutical drugs.
While the cultural replacement view cannot account for such a dramatic split between the twin policies of immigration and off-shoring, it follows straightforwardly from the cheap labor view that we normally associate with leftist or liberal criticism of immigration (such as it is).
There are other clear signs that the powerful don't care that much about replacing the native culture with a foreign one. Why aren't schoolchildren compelled to be bilingual in one of the languages of our new neighbors or trading partners from Central America, China, and India? Foreign language classes are a total joke, are only required for a couple years, and students are not tested for proficiency at all. School boards would eliminate French and German in favor of Cantonese and Hindi. The powerful may want us to be more sensitive and aware of foreign cultures, but not to actually become a foreign culture, which would require a lingua franca.
Deserting the battle over cheap labor, immigration, and off-shoring in this second Gilded Age of ours will earn conservatives a one-way ticket to irrelevance and impotence in the broader culture. So how can they present their criticism in a distinctly conservative rather than leftist way?
I think the main difference is that leftists only blame the shareholders and managers of Big Business for cheap labor policies. As the agents of bullying the government into opening the gates, they certainly deserve a good deal of the blame.
But what about ordinary consumers who clamor for ever cheaper products and services — and the hell if it means that the companies they buy from will employ workers from dirt-floor countries, whether bringing them here or sending the work over there? It's not as though the bulk of the American middle and lower classes would even consider, let alone carry out a boycott of companies that provide cheap junk made by careless foreigners.
"Hey, it's cheap, isn't it? It does the basic thing it's supposed to do, doesn't it? Then who cares if Chinese or Indians or Mexicans had to make it. Now I can buy ten times as much junk. If Americans made it, I could only afford one-tenth of the junk pile that I currently enjoy."
Middle-class callousness toward the consequences of their everyday purchases of goods and services on the demand side is almost as responsible for the cheap labor policies as Big Business greed is on the supply side. Not to mention the phenomenon of middle-class individuals employing cheap foreign labor as lawn cutters, dry-wallers, and babysitters in their own homes. That's not the outcome of a corporate board meeting on Wall Street.
The conservative response in the battle over cheap labor will not target only the wealthy in a class war, but try to humble the middle and lower classes as well, and hold them accountable for their callous preferences that have provided the fuel for the greed of Big Business.
Now, blaming everyone instead of a small easy target may seem like a losing strategy, but as long as it's based on humility and redemption, it can catch on at the grassroots level. An ordinary individual or family cannot meet with a politician the way that a corporate lobbyist can, but they can passively change their consumer practices and actively boycott companies that go against those wishes. "Boycott Chinese junk" would go a long way toward returning that work to American soil.
The leftist response to cheap labor, aimed only at the very top of society, is ultimately more hopeless. It relies on corporate containment policies at the very highest levels of government, or else violent disruption of the shareholders and managers' lives. During the last peak in inequality circa 1920, we saw armed strikers shooting it out against paramilitary armies, as well as anarchists lobbing bombs on Wall Street and assassinating politicians.
During the Great Compression, when inequality reversed and economic and political life became more stable, there were definitely large-scale regulatory programs by the government to rein in the greed and manipulation of Big Business, not to mention much higher income tax rates than we have seen since the '80s. That is the slice of Midcentury life that leftists and liberals can warm up to.
What they don't see is the grassroots change in preferences toward solidifying the culture through excluding foreigners and not buying stuff made in the third world, even if it meant more expensive products and services.
By the Midcentury, the days of hiring cheap servants recently arrived from Ireland, or cheap steel mill workers fresh off the boat from Poland, were long gone. As detailed in this profile from Fortune magazine in 1955, even elite executives chose to live in more modest houses and to employ fewer or no servants, compared to the decadent ways of the early 20th century — then still in living memory.
Middle-class preferences began to take account of the socially corrosive consequences of acquiring as much stuff for as cheaply as possible. And they came to view such pursuits as debasing to the individual. Those who still tried to cling to the old ways, a la Pottersville from It's a Wonderful Life and Norma Desmond's palazzo from Sunset Boulevard, were subjected to shaming in popular culture.
Liberals only see others as selfish, while conservatives see it as part of the human tendency toward sin. Emphasizing this difference will keep the battle over cheap labor from descending into class war against the rich.