Social conservatives and libertarians: Is a meeting of the minds possible?
Feuding among US conservatives for the title True Conservative is nothing new. Underlying the feud has been a failure to grasp that conservatism in America forms a family of principles that require accommodation: to each other, to the exigencies of the moment, and to the changing habits and opinions of the American people. In Constitutional Conservatism, Peter Berkowitz identifies the political principles social conservatives and libertarians share, or should share, and sketches the common ground on which they can and should join forces.
Drawing on the writings of Edmund Burke, The Federalist, and the high points of post-War II American conservatism, Berkowitz argues that the top political priority for social conservatives and libertarians should be to rally around the principles of liberty crystallized in the US Constitution and pursue reform in light of them. He shows that this task depends on the cultivation of the virtue of political moderation, which at its peak consists in the balancing of rival but worthy principles. He concludes that constitutional conservatism, well understood, provides a sturdy framework for developing a distinctive political agenda to which both social conservatives and libertarian conservatives can in good conscience subscribe.
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