By Donald Keller of the Libertarian Coalition
Anyone can tell you that Libertarianism and Conservatism are different in many ways. But are they in opposition to one another? Or ideological allies?
Firstly, I’d like to explain why Libertarianism and Liberalism aren’t ideological allies… Libertarianism is not socially liberal as many think. Such a definition of liberalism is about 50 years out-dated. The two ideologies are centered on opposing ideological cores. The Liberal perspective is about using Government to enforce social acceptance and openness (such as Affirmative Action, and forcing Christians to bake cakes for gay couples). Libertarians are socially free, not socially liberal. Social liberalism cannot exist without taxation and massive government overreach and is a gateway to Socialism.
So Libertarianism is not economically or socially compatible with Liberalism. Conservatives may not be entirely socially libertarian, but there is a reason why 90% of Libertarians find Conservatives easier to reason with, as Liberty Hangout posted earlier this week. It’s because Conservatives understand socially free perspectives. They do understand why gay couples want to be married, even if they oppose it. So they are more open to understanding, compromising, and even changing. They haven’t fallen prey to the cult of big government.
Conservatism falls under one major ideological core: Less Government. It may not always seem that way, but Conservatives have spent the last 16 years arguing against Bush and Obama’s massive deficits, and the expansion of state power through healthcare ‘reform’ and even the Patriot Act. In the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, we saw an enormous number of Conservatives hold Trump accountable for the AHCA and his massive budget.
It’s easy to say Conservatism isn’t about small government when you pick and choose which politicians you look at, or which views you scan over. Especially if you look at the GOP… But an in depth look into the Conservative community shows a group of people who believe in far less welfare, want to stay out of foreign affairs (the War on Terror is a topic too complicated to go in-depth on in this post), questions the role of government in education, infrastructure, healthcare, housing, and in energy and the environment. Anytime a Republican politician caves in on one these fields, you see a Conservative backlash, and the politician gets branded a RINO.
Conservatives also stand for personal choice, from school choice to gun ownership. Friedman, a conservative himself, preached the idea that Economic Freedom was the centerpiece of Personal Freedom, a strongly Libertarian belief. At their cores, Libertarianism and Conservatism want to get Government out of their lives and the economy, to cut taxes, and to endorse economic freedom. They are not opposing ends of a spectrum, but different variants of the same platform.
It makes sense that the two are founded on such similar cores. Conservatism today is a product of what we used to call Liberalism in the last century. That same Liberalism (now called Classical Liberalism) was founded on the core principles of Libertarianism, and is even considered a sector of modern Libertarianism. Conservatism is literally an evolution of Libertarianism. (Although liberalism is also a product of classical liberalism, it’s a pro-socialist evolution, while conservatism is a pro-libertarian evolution.)
While the two may argue on social issues, Conservatives are not unbudging, or ignorant, to socially libertarian ideas. In fact, the two share many beliefs here. They both believe family is the building block of society, not government, and they believe in individualism. In fact, many Libertarians are more conservative in nature, opposing the ideas of multiple genders and opposing Abortion. So to say Libertarianism isn’t compatible with more socially conservative ideas is ignorant, regardless of how strongly the Libertarian Party tries to say it isn’t.
So Libertarianism and Conservatism are strongly compatible economically, and are compatible socially too (though not as strongly). The opposition the party has taken to Conservatism is unfounded. They attack and disenfranchise Conservatives without cause. The two share the same philosophical core, even if they interpret them differently at times. Our end goals aren’t that different, and in fact, some believe Conservatism is a stepping stone to a more Libertarian society. Efforts to make Libertarianism and Liberalism allies fall short because Liberals are in complete philosophical opposition to Libertarianism. Conservatism has a key role to play in leading us to a Libertarian society if we offer the chance to bridge the gap between the two and work together.
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