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Ramesh Ponnuru

Nikki Haley Says the Free Market Isn't Free Enough

But conservatives shouldn't take the bait.

Thinks capitalism is great just the way it is.

Thinks capitalism is great just the way it is.

Photographer: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Over the last year, more and more conservatives have been saying that it’s time to rethink their economic philosophy. In budding think tanks, senators’ speeches and cable broadcasts, they have been criticizing what they see as “free-market fundamentalism.” Meanwhile, those on the right who still think that we should have freer markets than we do have angrily objected that they are being caricatured.

Now Nikki Haley, a potential future Republican presidential candidate, has entered the debate. Her tactic: embrace the caricature. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed adapted from a recent speech to the Hudson Institute, she argues that Republicans should defend unadulterated capitalism. If she campaigns accordingly, or other Republicans follow her lead, they will be cutting themselves off from the electorate and disregarding the lessons of the party’s past political successes.