Some Republicans want the party to break from its longtime free-market agenda and focus instead on the needs and frustrations of workers. Others see danger in moving away from the legacy of Reagan.

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The drama in the House of Representatives that ended on Jan. 7 with the late-night election of Kevin McCarthy as speaker after four days and 15 ballots revealed a Republican party coping with an identity problem, if not a crisis.

Is today’s Republican party conservative or populist? Is its patron saint Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump? Is it more intent on slashing government spending or preserving entitlement programs? Did it underperform in the 2022 midterm elections because it failed to mobilize its base or because it failed to reassure other voters wary of extremism? The divisive House debate offered no clear answers.

But Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri thinks he has one: The Republican party, he argues, needs to chart its path forward by becoming, finally and unequivocally, the party of the American working class.

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