Admittedly, the headline for this story is a bit optimistic. The notion that a country that has been turning steadily leftward for more than two decades can actually look forward to a future in which conservative and libertarian ideas carry sway seems a bit idealistic, yes?
Perhaps not. But let’s start with the term conservatarian itself. We use that hybrid word here on LibertyNation.com to define the prevailing views of our editors and authors, who are either conservative, libertarian – or a combination which we call conservatarian.
It is precisely this blend of traditional conservative and libertarian thought which can create a free market support that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is important to distinguish between so-called big-L Libertarians who actually vote for Libertarian party candidates, and small-l libertarians who hold certain libertarian views, but ultimately identify as something else. And while there are relatively few big-L Libertarians, there are many small-l libertarians, and that makes the philosophy a potent political force.
But the question is, in paraphrasing that legendary philosopher Rodney King, can the two sides of this conservatarian coin just get along? Does the common ground between these two schools of thought/philosophy outweigh the differences?
The quick answer is yes, because the one thing conservatives and libertarians have in common goes such a great distance towards achieving that precious common ground: free markets.
Accordingly, conservatives and libertarians share their belief that taxes should be low as possible, government should be as small as possible, and regulation should be as minimal as possible. They both wholeheartedly embrace the U.S. Constitution, and agree that free markets make for free people, and vice-versa. There is no understating the importance of the two sides’ common beliefs and values on this most fundamental issue relating to the proper relationship between civil society, government, and the people it is supposed to serve.
The two sides are in harmony on a number of other key issues. They agree that speech codes are abhorrent, more gun control is folly, climate change is mostly a concoction of leftist control freaks, and private charity is far more effective than government confiscation.
Differences between the two philosophies begin to emerge with the debate about liberty vs. security. Libertarians generally oppose government surveillance of any kind, while many conservatives favor a more aggressive security state. The two sides split on the Patriot Act and have often disagreed on homeland security following 9/11.
Further differences can be found on issues of personal liberty. Many libertarians are pro-choice on abortion (though they mostly respect pro-lifers), while conservatives are overwhelmingly pro-life. Libertarians have unilaterally opposed the federal war on drugs, while many or most conservatives have traditionally favored it as part of their hard line on enforcing the rule of law.
Traditionally, the single biggest conflict between conservatives and libertarians has been about immigration. Conservatives want strict enforcement of immigration laws, while many libertarians favor virtually open borders. And while conservatives are split on foreign policy – traditional ones wary of foreign entanglements, neo-conservatives more hawkish – libertarians generally oppose America’s foreign adventures.
But there appears to be good news for achieving common ground in the era of Donald Trump, who is neither a traditional conservative nor a libertarian. Many conservatives are becoming increasingly wary of the failed war on drugs – opioids aside – while many libertarians are becoming more open to a realistic view of unrestricted immigration, and both sides seem to embrace parts of Trump’s Jacksonian foreign policy. Perhaps this is something of an adjustment to the style of a populist/nationalist president who draws his beliefs from both camps.
If adherents to these two liberty-loving belief systems recognize that they have far more in common than they do differences, that they are in lockstep on the things that matter most, then the two sides can fight shoulder to shoulder and serve as a joint bulwark against leftist tyranny. And we believe LibertyNation.com is just the place to raise the flag for America’s conservatarian future!