by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Brad Polumbo writes for the Washington Examiner about a new right-of-center group’s unusual thesis.
A new group, American Compass, launched on Tuesday to much fanfare. The group’s mission is reportedly “going back and finding things that always were part of the American tradition that have been important to conservative thinkers but that seem to have gotten lost in the more market-fundamentalist mode of, especially, the last 20 to 30 years.”
Led by former Manhattan Institute scholar Oren Cass, the group has drawn impressive names to its nascent effort to charter an intellectual course for the nationalist Right.
There’s just one problem: The “market-skeptical” conservative movement is railing against an imaginary libertarian GOP orthodoxy that does not and, frankly, never really has existed. The idea motivating this entire project is completely detached from reality and all recent political history.
Cass posits that the GOP has “outsourc[ed] economic policymaking to libertarian ‘fundamentalists’ who see the free market as an end unto itself.” In this, he and his ideological allies are waging war on a straw man.
Consider the GOP in recent decades. Has it really been “free market fundamentalist” and obsessed with fiscal conservatism? I wish. In reality, the supposedly libertarian Republican Party and free market conservative intelligentsia have presided over an explosion in the scope of the federal government and the addition of trillions to the federal debt.