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Posts published in “Day: January 19, 2020”

Market-skeptic Republicans


Democrats who have a limited amount of faith and confidence in the socially-helpful workings of business and the marketplace are not really news: People like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have ensured as much.

But there are also Republicans who have some similar concerns. The term "market-skeptic Republicans" has emerged, evidently courtesy of the Pew Research Center, as a means of identifying them.

Pew used the term to describe a slice of the Republican world, one segment of four (the others are core conservatives, country first conservatives, and new-era enterprisers) - and at 12% of the overall population, the second largest of the Republican groups. Apparently, classifying Republicans as uniformly pro-business is not wise.

The researchers said of the group's views, "

Only about a third of Market Skeptic Republicans (34%) say banks and other financial institutions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, lowest among Republican-leaning typology groups. Alone among the groups in the GOP coalition, a majority of Market Skeptic Republicans support raising tax rates on corporations and large businesses. An overwhelming share (94%) say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests, which places the view of Market Skeptic Republicans on this issue much closer to Solid Liberals (99% mostly unfair) than Core Conservatives (21%)."

The constituency has developed a voice through some Republican officeholders. One of the more vocal has been Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who said in a November 2019 speech that "We are witnessing the rise of a new oligarchy of wealth and education. And not surprisingly, the leaders of this country’s government, its press, its corporations and most of its popular culture most all belong to this same class. But this oligarchy is not sustainable. Not only because it is unjust that the global economy should work for so few, that so many should be shut out of America’s front row, left without a voice. It is unsustainable because so many Americans are so profoundly discontent, even despairing." Sanders and Warren might have found a lot of common ground there.

Other Republicans have struck back. Columnist George Will (an expatriate from the party, but long one of its leading mainstream conservative voices) said in a sharply-toned critique, "Hawley asserts, without demonstrating, a broad “collapse of community” across America, and blames this, without explaining the causation, on “market worship,” without identifying the irrational worshipers. His logic is opaque, but his destination is clear: Because markets do not properly allocate wealth and opportunity, much of their role must be supplanted by government."

The Republicans diverging from their party's long-standing laissiz-faire approach have, however, seized onto something politically useful, as some Democrats have found. It has its flaws, as any ideological position will, but it will not be easily bushed aside.