Ronald Reagan wisely observed in his first inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem—government is the problem.” Yet today, some conservatives are losing confidence in themselves, our movement, and our fellow Americans and are instead looking to government to be the solution to problems in the free market. This stunning about-face is of great concern to traditional conservatives like me who remain unabashed advocates of the free market, the greatest engine for prosperity in human history.
Free markets have done more than any other system to raise standards of living, generate broad-based wealth, spur technological innovation, cure debilitating illness, and improve quality of life for billions of people around the globe. The entirety of American history proves that the free market, not government, has the ultimate power to shape society for the better. So why are some Republicans turning their backs on the free market principles we’ve advocated for generations?
To be sure, very real problems have emerged within contemporary corporate culture in America. Boardrooms have been co-opted by the radical left. Wall Street has sold out to progressive extremists by pushing for environmental, social, and governance policies that advance left-wing goals to the detriment of shareholders and workers. Fortune 500 companies are spending millions to fill our airwaves with ads that promote gender ideology and climate alarmism as much as their products.
Not even America’s pastime has been spared from this cultural crusade as Major League Baseball enables the most radical elements of the left while ostracizing generations of fans. But the answer to such challenges is not to demand government intervention—it is to use free market principles to fix the free market itself. That is exactly what is happening around the country. After Bud Light drew controversy for embracing progressive gender politics, sales plummeted nationwide. In recent weeks, the same thing has happened to Target for similar reasons. Shares of both companies have suffered substantial losses. Without government lifting a finger, woke companies are being called to account for their ideological excesses. Another prominent example is Disney, a company that trumpeted its left-wing values by condemning conservative education and parental rights reforms in Florida.
Governors around the country are right to pursue these policies and protect our kids. But when the governor of Florida decided to launch a full-scale campaign of governmental retribution against Disney, he wasn’t taking a page out of the conservative playbook—he was following in the footsteps of the radical left. In doing so, he not only risked billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs for the state, but even more importantly, he turned his back on the principles that make our country great. None of this was necessary. The best way to change businesses’ behavior is to hit them where it hurts—the pocketbook.
The American people seemingly understand this truth, as evidenced by their grassroots boycotts and changes in purchasing habits. The bottom line is this: Conservatives can either be for politically motivated government intervention in the private sector, or we can be against it. The left has long abused the reins of power and the constitutional order to serve its goals and punish its enemies.
From President Barack Obama’s weaponization of the IRS against conservative groups to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s attacks on Walgreens for putting the law and women’s safety above abortion politics, to Colorado bureaucrats forcing Christians like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop to choose between their businesses and their beliefs, the progressive left has wreaked havoc on our country and our timeless principles.
Some Republicans would have us all emulate them and become progressive conservatives. We shouldn’t listen to them. We do not need to abandon our principles in order to win. We simply need leaders with the courage to speak hard truths, and faith that the American people will rally to our cause.
Now as always, the physicians of the American soul must resist the temptation to put what is popular over what is wise.
Link to Mike Pence’s article HERE.