Will Conservatives Abandon the Free Market?

Joshua Tait
Reuters

Joshua Tait

Economics, Americas

Conservatives would either “combat” or “convert” business or base their politics “squarely on it.” But, he warned, conservatism “founded on money,” is “fickle, selfish, and irresponsible.”

Will Conservatives Abandon the Free Market?

WHEN FOX television host Tucker Carlson recently attacked conservative faith in free market economics, he probably surprised a number of his viewers. For too long, Carlson charged, libertarians and social conservatives have ignored the fundamental part economic structures play in undermining communities. Families are crushed beneath market forces. Disposable goods—fueled by consumer culture—provide little salve for drug addiction and suicide. Markets are a “tool,” Carlson said, not a “religion.” “You’d have to be a fool to worship” them.

Carlson put a primetime spin on an argument that has been brewing for some time on the right. Just as the 2008 economic collapse and the national prominence of Bernie Sanders have begun to shift the Democratic Party’s stance toward socialism, so the long effects of the downturn and Trump’s election have caused a rethinking of conservative commitment to free markets. Time magazine profiled policy entrepreneurs attempting to give heft to a post-market-fundamentalist gop. The Niskanen Center, a redoubt of the #NeverTrump movement, has backed away from libertarianism in favor of “moderation.” And the journal American Affairs is proving a fascinating avenue of contrarian right—and left—thought.

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