Are Libertarians Part of the Conservative Movement?
The American Enterprise Debates

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Post Event Summary

Since the creation of "fusionism" in the 1960s by Frank Meyer, conservatives and libertarians have maintained an uneasy and at times contentious alliance. United in their efforts to stop government growth domestically and combat Communism abroad, conservatives and libertarians were able to put aside any differences to strengthen their stance against their common ideological enemies. However, as these two movements have changed over time, each side has sought to untangle its identity from the other.

But what differences exist between the two? In the February installment of the American Enterprise Debates series, co-sponsored with America’s Future Foundation, Reason magazine's Matt Welch argued that conservatives fail to hold the line on government spending and imposing social policies that infringe on individual liberty, the original focus of the American experiment. He added that Republicans are turning more to libertarianism now because they are no longer in power. AEI's Jonah Goldberg countered that while conservatives may fall short in performance, the definition of an American conservative is someone who desires to protect America's limited-government tradition. The two were able to come together in the end to say that whether conservative or libertarian, Americans should unite today to defeat the strongest threat to liberty, posed by America's crushing debt burden.

Event Description
In the next American Enterprise Debate, cosponsored with America’s Future Foundation, AEI Fellow Jonah Goldberg will argue that libertarians are part of the broader American conservative movement’s push for limited government. Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason, will counter that libertarians offer a unique understanding of political life that makes libertarianism incompatible with conservatism. America’s Future Foundation Executive Director Roger Custer will moderate.

 

 

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