Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation by Peter Berkowitz

Hoover Institution–Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation contends that constitutional conservatism encompasses a distinguished tradition of defending liberty that stretches from the great eighteenth century British statesman Edmund Burke through the authoritative exposition of the Constitution in The Federalist to the high points of post-World War II American conservatism.  In this book, he seeks to identify the political principles that social conservatives and libertarians should share, and clarify the common ground on which they should join forces.  He argues that the top political priority for both social conservatives and limited-government conservatives should be to rally around, and rededicate themselves to conserving, the principles of liberty inscribed in the American Constitution and to pursue reform in light of them.

“Conservatism is now engaged in a period of reflection that may lead to recalibration.  One of the best things that could happen is for those on the right to listen to the counsel of Professor Berkowitz as he helps us to recover the constitutional connection between liberty, self-government, and political moderation rightly understood.  Constitutional Conservatism is a wonderful and necessary book.  In looking back, Peter Berkowitz helps us to look forward.”  So writes Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and member of the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations.

In an era of changing social standards and entrenched political realities, Berkowitz shows that the exercise of political moderation, understood as the ability to balance and blend worthy and conflicting political principles, is critical to the future of conservatism in America. He encourages conservatives of different stripes to remain true to their core principles while adjusting expectations of what can be achieved through democratic politics.  He also urges conservatives to renew the appreciation of the limits that American constitutional government imposes on regulating citizens’ private lives. He concludes that the principles of liberty inscribed in the Constitution are best honored by prudently translating them into practice.

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where he chairs the task force on national security and law and cochairs the task force on the virtues of a free society. 

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