At the recent American Political Science Association’s annual meeting, discussions revolved around the principles outlined in the National Conservative and Freedom Conservative Statements of Principles. The speaker, who identifies with both New Right and Old Right ideologies, acknowledged that these statements offer useful summaries of these conservative schools of thought. While some disagreements persist, the primary distinction between National Conservatives (NatCons) and Freedom Conservatives (FreeCons) centers on their priorities.
The crux of this division lies in what each group deems most pressing. NatCons prioritize the welfare of families and communities as their ultimate moral goal within the context of free markets. FreeCons, while sharing some common ground, might differ on their emphasis. For instance, when faced with market failures resulting in insufficient wages for single mothers, NatCons may favor both addressing government regulations that hinder businesses and providing financial aid to parents. This difference in priority reflects a significant policy and tone divide between the two groups.
These priorities also manifest in areas like corporate policies and union support. While both camps generally agree on free markets, their focus varies when addressing issues such as CEOs promoting ESG agendas or unions advocating for single mothers. These discrepancies hinge on the moral framework of prioritizing family, freedom, and prosperity in today’s complex economic and cultural landscape.
In addition to these policy differences, rhetoric and tone play a crucial role in shaping these conservative factions. NatCons and FreeCons differ in their approach to market intervention, personal freedoms, and the moral way to uphold family values amidst changing societal conditions. Consequently, these disagreements influence various policy decisions, making it imperative to navigate these differences while upholding the broader conservative agenda.
Despite these internal divisions, both groups share common ground on several fundamental conservative principles. They concur on issues such as strong borders, a sensible immigration system, peace through strength, minimizing censorship, eliminating crony capitalism, preserving free markets, reforming education, tackling media corruption, limiting the administrative state’s growth, emphasizing the sanctity of life, defending the Second Amendment, addressing the national debt, and more.
While some real divides exist, such as free trade, domestic surveillance, public religion, and civil rights law, the question of priorities remains the most significant development in contemporary conservative thought. Recognizing the importance of these priorities can help unite and strengthen the conservative movement by focusing on the common goal of resisting the ever-expanding federal bureaucracy’s encroachment on personal and corporate freedoms. Ultimately, despite their differences, both NatCons and FreeCons share a ballpark, or at least adjacent sections, in the conservative arena, emphasizing the importance of understanding where their ideological tickets lie.