During his 1964 acceptance speech, Barry Goldwater described his movement to the audience with these words:

This party, with its every action, every word, every breath and every heartbeat has but a single resolve, and that is freedom — freedom made orderly for the Nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by the laws of nature and of nature’s God; freedom — balanced so that order, lacking liberty, will not become a slave of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty, lacking order, will not become the license of the mob and the jungle.

While the modern conservative movement has long been a compilation of like-minded ideologies, getting them to put aside their small differences and focus on common goals has always been a challenge. Dr. Lee Edwards describes how these different factions came together around common, fundamental ideas to stand united against the communist and socialist menaces of their time. Senator Goldwater’s statement above succinctly summarizes this fusion. On July 14th, two Heritage Foundation interns and two libertarian interns added their own perspectives to the ongoing debate over the fusion of their two schools of conservative thought.

Though there were points of contention in the hour-long debate sponsored by America’s Future Foundation and Students for Liberty, the same shared beliefs that have held the conservative coalition together for the past 50 years also appeared. According to Dr. Edwards, Frank S. Meyer, the preeminent fusionist in the modern conservative movement, described these shared beliefs as:

  • They accept “an objective moral order of immutable standards by which human conduct should be judged.
  • Whether they emphasize human rights and freedoms or duties and responsibilities, they unanimously value the human person” as the center of political and social thought.
  • They oppose liberal attempts to use the State “to enforce ideological patterns on human beings.
  • They reject the centralized power and direction necessary to the planning” of society.
  • They join in defense of the Constitution as originally conceived.
  • They are devoted to Western civilization and acknowledge the need to defend it against the messianic intentions of Communism.

Presently, the nation faces a threat larger than the subtle differences which caused the clash in the intern debate. Congress continues to increase the size of government and the people’s dependence upon bureaucratic institutions. The President continues to redistribute wealth and judges continue to legislate from the bench. If the movement splinters, or if any particular conservative faction believes it will be better alone, the nation will likely fail to address these invasions of the individual’s autonomy with sound conservative solutions.

The type of discourse seen during the intern event is important for further exploration of the shared principles of both ideologies, but in a time when the shared ideals of libertarians and conservatives are under attack from outside forces, all friends of liberty must work together to ensure that the freedom, safety and happiness we experience today will be there for our children in the years to come.

Daniel Anderson is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm