Constitutional Conservatism vs. Libertarianism

Rand Paul

Rand Paul has an op-ed in Tuesday’s USA Today, in which he describes himself as a “constitutional conservative.” The title of the piece is, “Rand Paul, libertarian? Not quite,” but Dr. Paul fails to distinguish any dissimilarity between the being a constitutional conservative or libertarian. No matter what political philosophy Dr. Paul subscribes to (Note:  His father, Congressman Ron Paul, also identifies as being a constitutional conservative), it seems as if he’s trying to shed the tag of libertarian because it’s become a polarized word:

It’s often repeated in stories about me or my race for U.S. Senate that I am a “libertarian.” In my mind, the word “libertarian” has become an emotionally charged, and often misunderstood, word in our current political climate. But, I would argue very strongly that the vast coalition of Americans — including independents, moderates, Republicans, conservatives and “Tea Party” activists — share many libertarian points of view, as do I.

A recent unscientific poll taken via the Young Americans for Liberty Facebook page showed that out of 47 participants, 35 described themselves as subscribing to a libertarian political orientation. Conservatism and liberalism both netted 5 votes, and there were 2 votes for “other.” What do you think, if any, are the main differences between libertarianism and constitutional conservatism?

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