Questions over whether the government should play a more active role in protecting Americans from global shocks like the coronavirus pandemic have exposed a widening divide in the Republican Party over whether the small-government, free-market brand of conservatism at the heart of its agenda — and a top priority of its biggest donors — is out of step with the times. …

Oren Cass, the founder of American Compass, a new group that is publishing the essays by Mr. Cotton and Mr. Rubio and plans to host events that highlight similar themes, said this moment of national crisis was “almost kind of tailor-made to bring a lot of these issues to the fore.”

J.D. Vance, the author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy,” which chronicled the despair in parts of rural America that helped fuel the rise of a figure like Mr. Trump, said the work being done at American Compass, where he is a contributing writer, was ultimately part of the larger debate over what happens to the Republican Party once Mr. Trump is no longer leading it. And the hope for him and like-minded Republicans is that they can shape that future.

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