Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism

Student Forum
August 4, 2016
6:30PM to 8:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring Cato Institute Interns; and Heritage Foundation Interns; with an introduction by Mark Houser, Student Programs Manager, Cato Institute; moderated by Ben Domenech, Publisher, The Federalist.

Libertarians and conservatives both claim to be advocates of individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. Sometimes these shared values lead libertarians and conservatives to similar conclusions about public policy. As a result, American political discourse often conflates libertarianism with conservatism, and proponents of “fusionism” go so far as to regard a libertarian-conservative alliance as being both natural and politically useful.

However, the differences between the two political philosophies are at least as significant as the similarities. On matters such as national security and foreign policy, surveillance, immigration, criminal justice, drugs, gay rights, and the role of religion and morality in public policy, libertarians and conservatives often clash with one another. Despite whatever similarities they may have, libertarianism and conservatism are substantially different political philosophies—so which one provides better answers to today’s most important political questions?

We invite you to an election-year debate about the two philosophies and their associated policy implications. Interns from the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation will go head-to-head to answer the question: Is libertarianism or conservatism the superior political philosophy?

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