The Magazine

Conservative Populism

Rightly understood.

Jan 28, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 19 • By RAMESH PONNURU and YUVAL LEVIN
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Uncontrolled immigration has also exerted downward pressure on wages at the lower end of the labor market. Republicans, who all agree on the need to stop illegal immigration, should make it clear that they will reduce that pressure by sharply cutting the inflow of lower skilled workers across the border. The debates surrounding how to handle illegal immigrants already here, and how to organize our system of legal immigration and improve assimilation, will and should continue. But a substantial reduction in future illegal immigration is almost everyone's goal, and would offer economic benefits to working families that Republicans can tout.

The Republican frontrunners can speak to the concerns of lower middle class voters with such a three-pronged platform, which reduces their health care stress, eases their tax burden, and enforces immigration laws. It's a platform that would be good for American families and good for Republican prospects. It would also rebuff the new populists on both the left and right who are heightening anxieties, not easing them, and are ignoring the real limits to what the government can do.

Yuval Levin is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review.