Below is an excerpt from Lind's essay, followed by a few thoughts by me.
[I]t has become something of an orthodoxy among bien pensant progressives on both sides of the Atlantic that territorial nation-states are immoral because they privilege the identity of one cultural nation over others (the nation part) and because they favor the well-being of their citizens over foreigners who may be poorer (the territorial state part). Most progressives favor ending agricultural subsidies in Europe and the U.S., claiming that this would help poor peasant farmers in the global South export their way to prosperity (of course this would really benefit multinational agribusiness, not romanticized peasant farmers, but never mind). In debates about immigration, as in debates about trade, elite progressives whose own positions and incomes are secure frequently demonstrate their altruism by suggesting that it is acceptable if immigration somewhat lowers the wages of their less-fortunate fellow nationals, as long as poor foreign immigrants and receivers of remittances are thereby made better off. How generous of them!
The new pro-capitalist, anti-nationalist center-left finds allies in investment banks and college campuses but has little to offer ordinary people who view the nation-state as their agent and protector in a dangerous world. Nobody should be surprised when, in a period of economic crisis, significant parts of the population should turn to unabashed nationalists of the right, as opposed to progressives who fret that helping out their fellow citizens might be a form of discrimination against more deserving foreigners. It's true that toxic forms of racism and illiberal nationalism drive the anti-immigrant politics of the far-right parties that have benefited from protest voting in Europe. But the economic case for limiting the inflow of new workers into an economy at a time of mass unemployment is likely to seem commonsensical to many non-racist voters who do not share the new center-left's unease with national patriotism.
Lind makes some astute observations here, and Republicans can draw some lessons from this if they are willing to part company with Democrats on some of their shared orthodoxies (e.g., embrace of large scale unskilled immigration). The way to do this would be to acknowledge the challenges posed by globalization to the American middle class and offer some constructive solutions. In a recent post ("How Not to Create Broad-Based Prosperity"), we mentioned one Democrat (Matt Miller of the Center for American Progress) who acknowledged these challenges but didn't offer constructive solutions to them (e.g., Miller's proposed replacement for manufacturing jobs lost to outsourcing was to replace them with service jobs such as hospice aids; Miller proposed this without acknowledging the extent to which these jobs are currently filled by immigrant workers). I've made these points before, but two specific areas where Republicans can draw a contrast with Democrats are on immigration policy and energy policy.
On immigration policy, Republicans would be smart to buck the Chamber of Commerce's demands for cheap unskilled immigrant labor and advocate a transition to an immigration system similar to those of Australia or Canada, one that selects for immigrants with high levels of human capital. While unemployment is high, immigration should perhaps be further limited to foreign entrepreneurs who have the capital and intent to start businesses here and create jobs for American workers. To counter the inevitable accusations that anyone advocating an economically rational immigration policy is advocating it because of racism, Republicans ought to do two things. First, they ought to scrupulously distance themselves from anyone who advocates restricting immigration based on race. Racist immigration restrictionists may win elections in Europe, but they will be the kiss of death to any plans to institute a Canadian- or Australian-style immigration policy in America. Second, Republicans ought to point out that it is often minorities who are most harmed by the effects of our current immigration system. Let Democrats explain why we should import more unskilled immigrant laborers when, for example, 39.4% of African American teens are unemployed (Hat tip to Dr. Mark Perry for the chart below).
On energy policy, Republicans would be smart to continue advocating efforts to develop more domestic sources of oil, gas, and coal, while advocating an increase in nuclear power as well. Increasing domestic supplies of energy would create more high-paying jobs in the energy sector, and ensuring a large supply of relatively inexpensive energy would facilitate the creation of jobs in energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing (we noted the effect of lower energy prices on employment in a post last fall, "A Tale of Two States: Utah versus Rhode Island").
A third area where (some) Republicans may be able to draw a favorable contrast with Democrats, if they are willing to do so, is by running against Wall Street, or more accurately, running against the incestuous relationship between some major Wall Street firms and Washington. I suspect New Jersey's GOP gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie will try a version of this while running against our incumbent governor, former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine. Republicans would be smart to look for economic advisers from among the smart bankers and investors who haven't required government rescues. I don't know what John Hussman's politics are, but to the extent his policy prescriptions (e.g., making big banks eat some losses) have been ignored by the current administration, I bet Dr. Hussman would welcome a chance to advise a Republican candidate willing to listen to him. Another potential economic adviser might be Andy Beal, the self-made billionaire Texas banker who successfully navigated the credit bust.