The recent train derailment in Ohio once again highlighted the issue of rail safety in the United States. The incident, which occurred in the small town of Beaver Creek, resulted in the death of several people and injuries to many others. The tragedy has spurred calls for action on rail safety, including from JD Vance, a prominent conservative author and commentator.

In an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal, Vance urged his fellow Republicans to take a stand on rail safety. He argued that the party should not ignore the issue, despite its tradition of supporting deregulation and limited government. Vance pointed out that the safety of the American people should always come first, even if it means challenging established conservatives’ ideologies.

Vance’s message is particularly significant as the Republican Party has traditionally been opposed to government intervention in industry affairs. This absence of regulation affects a wide range of sectors, including rail transport. Vance highlighted the recent cases of several high-profile rail accidents, including the 2013 Lac-M├ęgantic train derailment in Canada that killed 47 people, as well as the 2014 oil train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia. In both cases, investigators found that insufficient safety regulations contributed to the accidents.

Vance argued that conservative principles should not be used as a cover for corporations to avoid their social responsibility. He called on his fellow Republicans to take the lead in advocating for safer railroads while pointing out that the deregulatory approach might have more economic benefits in other sectors. Vance insisted that promoting rail safety would lead to a much-improved economy by creating jobs and stabilizing communities that rely on the railroad industry.

Further, Vance also criticized Wall Street investors’ profit-driven approach that overlooks potential safety risks. He insisted that a conservative philosophy should never create space for actions that put corporate profits over the safety of the American people.

The Republican Party is currently undergoing a period of soul-searching after Donald Trump’s presidency, which saw the party become increasingly politicized and homogenized. This political shift has come at the expense of principles, which Vance insisted always had the safety of the American people at their core. By accepting that safety oversight is a natural extension of conservatism, Vance urged his fellow Republicans to reclaim their principles and take the lead in promoting a safer rail system.

Vance understands that opposing rail safety reform might draw bipartisan anger, but his op-ed in Wall Street Journal highlighted that his proposition’s real intent is to prevent a potential disaster. Furthermore, he insisted that Republicans could lead the charge in promoting more robust safety measures. The transportation industry’s safety is an essential matter and should not fall prey to partisan politics.

The addition of safety standards would also benefit the railroad companies in the long run. Tragedies like the Ohio derailment would put them out of business or damage their brand’s image irreversibly. Vance concluded that the Republican Party had an opportunity to use conservative principles to unstigmatize safety regulations, ultimately helping save lives.

Vance’s call for action on rail security might have set an example in the Republican camp, challenging every member’s ideology towards the future of the industry. The conservative movement might now face intense criticism from the fossil fuel industry’s supporters, who would argue that average railroad accidents are tolerable.

But Republican leaders like Vance have demonstrated that principles, as much as conservatism, must evolve with the changing needs of an ever-growing and interconnected world. Going forward, politicians from both sides of the aisle must face the reality of America’s rail system and advocate for the regulation and oversight necessary to protect its community.