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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.
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.
DANIEL ROTHSCHILD, AEI
ROGER CUSTER, America's Future Foundation
JONAH GOLDBERG, AEI
MATT WELCH, Reason
ROGER CUSTER, America's Future Foundation
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Roger Custer is executive director of America's Future Foundation and a current associate at the Charles Koch Institute. Previously, he was conference director at Young America’s Foundation, where he oversaw the nation’s leading conservative student conferences and assisted with activism programs. His work has been recognized in TIME, The Washington Post, CNN, C-SPAN and other major media. Human Events named him a “Top Ten Young Conservative Activist” in the country.
A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg's nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by the Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. His first book, “Liberal Fascism” (Doubleday, 2008), quickly became a New York Times bestseller. At AEI, Mr. Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog. His new book, “A Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” will be released in May of this year.
Daniel Rothschild is the coalitions director at AEI, where he serves as the liaison between AEI staff and scholars and think tanks, grass-roots groups and business groups across the country. He also manages AEI's new "Road to Freedom" project. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Reason, Slate, the Chicago Policy Review, the Michigan Journal of Public Affairs, The Ripon Forum, Economic Affairs and many other popular and policy publications. He has testified before the U.S. Congress and several state legislatures on tax and fiscal policy, government reform, and disaster recovery policy.
Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason, the libertarian magazine of "Free Minds and Free Markets." He is co-author, along with Nick Gillespie, of the 2011 book “The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America,” which Tyler Cowen called "the up-to-date statement of libertarianism." He also wrote the 2007 book “McCain: The Myth of a Maverick.” Mr. Welch has won a half-dozen first-place L.A. Press Club awards over the years for work ranging from coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention to reporting on Cuban baseball players to essays of and about media criticism. Before assuming editorship of Reason in 2008, he was assistant editorial pages editor for the Los Angeles Times, California correspondent for The National Post, political columnist for WorkingForChange.com and regular contributor to the Online Journalism Review.