About Freedom Conservatism

How did the Freedom Conservatism project come about?

It began life as a conversation among a small group of conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals about the rise of authoritarianism around the world, its manifestations in contemporary American politics, and related debates about the past, present, and future of the American conservative movement. We formed a working group, led by Avik Roy and John Hood; drafted the Statement of Principles; invited other leaders to help edit and refine it; and then recruited signatories from across the movement.

The process took about five months. The Statement was published on July 13, 2023.

Who is behind the Freedom Conservatism project?

The Freedom Conservatism Statement of Principles is not an initiative of any specific institution. It is, rather, the product of a group of individuals who work at a variety of institutions. As we indicate in the Statement, we list signatories’ affiliations for identification purposes only. Each of us signed the statement as individuals, not on behalf of our employers.

In assembling the initial list of signatories, we cast our net widely for leaders across the country who shared our values while representing a variety of disciplines, roles, philosophies, and locations. Some are journalists, authors, and public intellectuals. Others have worked in government or on political campaigns. Still others teach at schools or universities, or litigate cases, or have enjoyed success in business or other professions and serve Freedom Conservatism primarily as donors, board members, and advisors.

As you look at the list, you will find many leaders who work primarily at the state and local level. That is no accident. One of our shared values is decentralization. As we write in the Statement, “The best way to unify a large and diverse nation like the United States is to transfer as many public policy choices as possible to families and communities. Much of the discord in America today comes from the fact that too many decisions are made for us by centralized authorities.”

Our signatories include many nationally known names, to be sure, but the breadth of the list of signatories demonstrates that our commitment to America’s constitutional principles—including federalism—is more than rhetorical.

If Freedom Conservatism represents a timeless set of principles, why do we need a new statement about them?

While the Statement draws from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and modern documents like the Sharon Statement, the Freedom Conservatism Statement of Principles is designed to apply these values to the challenges that Americans face in the 21st century.

In addition to enumerating the principles of Freedom Conservatism, signatories of the Statement have made three specific commitments related to reducing the cost of living, restoring America’s fiscal sustainability, and addressing the downstream effects of slavery and segregation. From the text of the Statement:

  • “We commit to reducing the cost of living through competitive markets, greater individual choice, and free trade with free people, while upholding the rule of law, freedom of contract, and freedom of association.

  • “We commit to building a constructive reform agenda that can restore America’s fiscal sustainability, ensuring that future generations inherit a more prosperous and secure nation than the one we now inhabit.

  • “Many who descend from victims of [slavery and segregation] now face economic and personal hurdles that are the direct result of this legacy. We commit to expanding opportunity for those who face challenges due to past government restrictions on individual and economic freedom. We adamantly oppose racial discrimination in all its forms, either against or for any person or group of people.”

You call yourselves Freedom Conservatives. Does that mean you believe freedom is the only principle conservatives should champion?

Far from it. Political labels may be a practical necessity, but their brevity comes with an inevitable tradeoff in comprehensiveness and context. We call ourselves Freedom Conservatives not because freedom is our sole interest but because without individual and economic liberty, our other fundamental values and aspirations will prove impossible to sustain. We are Freedom Conservatives because we seek to conserve that which has made America great—and always will.

Why does the Freedom Conservatism Statement not mention God?

Most signatories agree that societies are unlikely to remain healthy and free unless there is a widespread belief in God or some transcendent moral order. Most FreeCons are also people of faith, though we differ widely in religious affiliation and practice. Because religion is a matter about which Americans should be free to disagree—and that attempting to collapse such disagreements into a “common denominator” statement would offer only a thin and unsatisfying slice of what is a thick layer of meaning—we chose to focus instead on public policies affecting people of faith.

That is why our statement emphasizes the “the freedom to say and think what one believes to be true” and the rights of parents to “raise and educate their children according to their values.” That is also why we propose transferring “as many public policy choices as possible to families and communities.” Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, wrote in Providence magazine about his decision to sign the Freedom Conservatism Statement of Principles. “God and religion are not explicitly mentioned” in the Statement, Tooley recognized. “But the statement implicitly assumes a largely biblical perspective about human dignity, the limits of government, private property, equality before the law, the primacy of conscience, protection for families, and statecraft premised on providential realism.”

Statements of principles are boring. I want detailed proposals on how to expand liberty, reduce the cost of living, improve economic opportunity, etc.

Many of our signatories spend their waking hours on developing detailed proposals—and even legislation!—to flesh out the principles described in the Freedom Conservatism Statement. Please follow their work to learn more.

I have questions and/or comments about Freedom Conservatism.

For questions, media enquiries, or general comments, please fill out this form.

Can I sign the Freedom Conservatism Statement of Principles?

Yes. If you are aligned with Freedom Conservatism and work in the movement in some formal capacity, please fill out this form, and tell us why you support the Statement of Principles.

What’s next for Freedom Conservatism?

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Liberty is the distinctive creed that makes America great.