As Hawley puts it, Roosevelt believed “careful, limited government action could make the market work for civic character, make it a force again for orderly liberty and a morally wholesome prosperity.” In his time, “the industrial economy had become a threat to the rule of the people … partly because its sheer size swallowed individual agency, but also because it rewarded the wrong things.” “Use regulation to make it reward honesty, thrift and initiative,” TR thought, “ and the market would become a prop rather than a menace” to freedom.
This is a conservative vision that rejects socialist utopia along with hard-line free-market ideology (socialists and libertarians alike envision the “withering away of the state”).
Some on the right believe the Republican Party should be a consistent champion of laissez-faire. In their view, any attempt to enforce antitrust law is the first step on the road to serfdom. These concerns had broad appeal when America faced off against Soviet totalitarianism. Today we face different challenges: global corporations that resist political accountability and show little concern for the common good. In this situation, government itself becomes a kind of “mediating society,” standing between the individual and forces beyond his control.