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American conservatism was for too long under the spell of what might be called “market fundamentalism”: It mindlessly treated all private-sector action as good and all government action as bad. At worst, this fundamentalism gave rise to corporate boosterism and outright cronyism that repelled voters from the GOP.
But today’s political realignment seems to be breaking the spell — and not a moment too soon.
These days, a rising cohort of writers and intellectuals associated with the New Right seeks to recover the “Two-Cheers-for-Capitalism” ethos of Irving Kristol: that is, to allow for a greater government role in channeling market efficiency toward the traditional conservative political ends of justice, human flourishing and the common good.
This shift isn’t just a matter of academic theory, but is manifesting itself in the halls of US power. Witness the aftermath of corporate America’s boycott assault against Georgia over the state’s passage of a milquetoast election-reform law, which caused the simmering tension between GOP populists and the party’s Chamber of Commerce wing to boil over.
Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who has previously made realignment inroads with his advocacy of “common-good capitalism” and vocal support for unionization in Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., plant — took to these pages to decry how “corporate America eagerly dumps woke, toxic nonsense into our culture.”
Even more notably, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a political disciple of Reaganite conservatism, took to The Wall Street Journal to pronounce that “starting today,” he will “no longer accept money from any corporate” political action committee.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), meanwhile, is only ramping up his pushback against Big Tech oligarchs, most recently by unveiling his Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act. On the House side, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) is leading a campaign to foreswear all political donations from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Those who came of political age in the days when the Republican Party championed the cause of big business might be taken aback by the ferocity of this anti-corporate response. Yet in truth, GOP resistance to big business has been a long time coming. The Tea Party had a decisively populist, anti-corporate hue, with its opposition to bailing out Wall Street banks and hostility toward Beltway-style corporate cronyism, such as the Export-Import Bank, which effectively amounts to a taxpayer-funded Boeing slush fund.
But the recent accelerant has been the emergence of woke capital as a destructive force tearing a grievously divided country ever-more asunder. As the cultural left nears completion of its Antonio Gramsci-style “long march through the institutions,” big business has joined the ranks of the academy, Hollywood and the mainstream media as a sprawling national edifice beholden to the illiberal woke ideology.
Whereas nine years ago, Wall Street donated to native son Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign at a higher clip than it did to then-incumbent President Barack Obama, today corporate wokesters threaten boycotts of entire states over GOP-backed legislation on wedge issues such as abortion and transgenderism — all while prostrating themselves before the (literally) genocidal commissars of the Chinese Communist Party.
Republicans are right to stand up and solemnly declare that enough is enough, already.
There is no compelling reason to suffer through the humiliating bromance with woke capitalists, “battered woman syndrome”-style, while corporate America makes itself clearer than ever before that it hates Republican voters’ guts. Whether it is on human sexuality, the right to life for unborn children, gun rights, immigration sanity or a host of other issues, woke capital treats the Republican Party as more of an enemy than it would ever dream of treating sadistic detention facility managers in Xinjiang, China.
Republicans should stop trying to prevent the unpreventable and permit its amicable divorce from corporate America to continue apace. Indeed, that divorce is a “blessing,” as The Post’s op-ed editor, Sohrab Ahmari, argued in January. The GOP’s brightest future lies in the multiracial working-class political coalition — not in the C-suite.
Josh Hammer is Newsweek opinion editor.
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