by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest entry in the post-Trump conservatism sweepstakes was Marco Rubio’s speech at the Catholic University of America in early November. The Florida senator made the case for a “common-good capitalism” that looks on markets in the light of Catholic social thought. “We must remember that our nation does not exist to serve the interests of the market,” he said. “The market exists to serve our nation.”
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri shares many of the same attitudes. He told the inaugural “National Conservatism” conference in July that the “cosmopolitan consensus” dominating our politics “abandons the idea of the republic altogether” and leaves us “with the curse of faction.” To “rebuild our sense of shared purpose and belonging,” he went on, Republicans “must protect our communities of faith,” while “encouraging capital investment in the great American middle,” “investing in research and innovation in the heartland of this country,” and “challenging the economic concentration that stifles small producers and family enterprises.”
Rubio and Hawley are the standard-bearers of a shift against markets among some quarters of the right. They want to integrate the lessons of 2016 into a policy agenda for the years after President Trump leaves office. They point to a possible direction for American conservatism. But they should have no illusions. The agenda they propose for the future bears little relation to the Republican party of the present.
I worry that conservatives will commit themselves to a misreading of the political terrain. … Republicans will be in trouble if they replicate the dilemmas of a Democratic party imprisoned within its woke Twitter shell.