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.