America needs to rediscover the art of political economy. Over the past thirty years, Americans have watched the middle class shrink at home and China rise abroad. Pressure on the American economy has been piled on by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Even if “stagflation” does not make a comeback, there are structural problems that threaten the long-term economic prosperity and security of the nation. This has forced the right of center to rethink its economic agenda.
Looking to the history of American political economy can offer the insight and inspiration to overcome today’s challenges.
Political economy has been central to the founding and growth of the American republic. Alexander Hamilton has found renewed recognition in recent years for his vision of American capitalism and internal nation building. Hamilton’s ideas did not end with him, but endured for decades afterwards, influencing Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although the policies differed, they were all bound together by a belief that the success of the American republic rested on a strong federal government that promotes commerce, industry, and innovation. This is a tradition whose time has come again.