Moving economic discussions beyond a fetishization of tax cuts need not be a surrender to the Left. There are, after all, authentically conservative responses to financial consolidation, deindustrialization, escalating health-care costs, soaring energy prices, and middle-class decline. It seems clear that, if Republicans cannot craft a message and a policy platform that speak to the needs of many in the middle and working classes, their ability to form a national governing coalition will remain in doubt. (It’s worth noting that Democrats may even have won a majority of the aggregate popular vote for the House.)

What does not seem so clear, however, is how an expansive legalization of current illegal workers, and the new wave of illegal labor such a legalization would be likely to initiate, could improve the economic prospects of the working class or win them over to the Republican side. There might be other reasons to support an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but hopes that such an amnesty will be an electoral panacea are misguided. Perhaps the most promising strategy for winning over native-born and immigrant voters alike would be for Republicans to put forward policies that speak to the needs of the vast economic middle and of economic strivers of all income levels.