Rep. Justin Amash at the International Students for Liberty Conference on Saturday (photo: Gage Skidmore).
Speaking on a panel at the International Students for Liberty Conference on Saturday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) told a crowd of over 1,000 young libertarians, “I don’t see much space between classical liberalism, conservatism in the American sense, and libertarianism. I think they’re basically the same philosophy.”
Amash qualified his remarks by saying, “Now at times, people who’ve called themselves conservatives, I think have gone in a wrong direction and have gotten government involved in things where the government shouldn’t be involved.”
Republicans like former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum have argued strongly that libertarianism is incompatible with conservatism, while Ronald Reagan told Reason in 1975, “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.”
Reagan would add, “if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”
Echoing Reagan, Amash continued, “But actually the basic conservative philosophy is to conserve the classical liberal principles of this country. When you look at those principles and you look at the Constitution or Declaration of Independence you find that those are very libertarian principles.”