These remarks were delivered at The American Conservative’s annual gala in Washington, D.C. on May 9.
“It is very common to hear from folks on the Right that all we need to solve the problem of Middle America and the declining American dream is maybe a supply side tax cut and a little bit of a lecture about personal responsibility. It is all too common, from the leadership of the American Right these days, to place the focus on the commercial interests who donate to Republican campaigns and not enough on the people who actually work and vote for Republican campaigns.
What I worry about is that we have outsourced, in the conservative movement, our economic and our domestic policy thinking to the libertarians. And that’s not always bad. The libertarians have very good ideas. The reason we did it, I think, is in part because Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek were very compelling in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, and their ideas still carry a lot of weight.
But at a fundamental level, if we’re worried about moms and dads not being as involved at home, if we’re worried about rising rates of childhood trauma, if we’re worried about the fact that in this country today, for maybe the first extended period in our country’s history, we’re not even having enough children in this country to replace ourselves. If we’re worried about those problems, then we have to be willing to pursue a politics that actually wants to accomplish something besides just making government smaller.”