Conservative Candidates Lend Vigor to 2008 Presidential Race

"The competition and conflict that is developing among the leading conservative candidates should prove invigorating, not only for conservatism in America but for the nation as a whole," states Professor Peter Berkowitz in assessing conservatism's prospects in the year 2008 presidential election.

Berkowitz takes a look at candidates Romney, McCain, and Giuliani, examining the conservative elements that make each unique, in an opinion piece in

The Right Stuff,, March 27, 2007. By Peter Berkowitz.

"As distinctive as the mix that Bush presents is, all modern conservatives are, in a sense, hybrid conservatives. That's because modern conservatism itself is the offspring of a family of competing opinions and principles.

"Modern conservatism derives above all from Edmund Burke, the great 18th-century Anglo-Irish orator and statesman. Burke was a lover of liberty and tradition who saw a great threat to liberty in the tradition-overthrowing forces unleashed by the French Revolution. He was solicitous of established ways but acutely aware that the preservation of liberty required 'prudent innovation' in response to the constantly changing circumstances of political life.

"Yet since individual liberty can never be entirely divorced from the French revolutionaries' ambition to remake society in the name of equal freedom for all, modern conservatism contains a built-in instability.

"There is no settled recipe, and there are no fixed proportions, for determining the prudent innovations that balance liberty and tradition. For example, reasonable people who agree on the importance of both may differ on whether the benefits that come to the poor and vulnerable from government efforts to cooperate with faith-based charities outweigh the dangers of mixing church and state.

"All three of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination embody a mix of conservative elements different from Bush and from each other. All three have evidently rejected Karl Rove's maximize-the-base strategy in favor of a formula that will allow them to appeal to moderates while keeping the confidence of the base. And all three face a delicate balancing act."

Read the article