The recent surge of national conservatism in the United States has not only highlighted a departure from classical liberal principles but also raised concerns about a fundamental shift away from the values that have long defined American governance. 

As this ideology gains prominence, it presents an unsettling contrast to the historical tenets that America has traditionally stood for.

National conservatism is a departure from American values

National conservatism, characterized by authoritarian tendencies and right-wing populism, and embodied by many in today’s Republican Party, has sparked a global conversation on the direction the American — and indeed global — political landscape is headed. 

The United States has historically stood for ideals rooted in individual freedom, limited government intervention, and the pursuit of liberty. These principles formed the bedrock of the nation’s founding documents. 

American values have long placed a strong emphasis on allowing the private sector to flourish and individuals to shape their destinies with minimal state interference. 

Conversely, national conservatism leans towards a more interventionist government, marked by protectionist economic policies and an inclination to use state power for nationalistic objectives, contradicting the historical commitment to limited government.

Moreover, the United States has prided itself on being a melting pot, welcoming new arrivals, fostering inclusivity, and celebrating cultural diversity. This ethos has been integral to the American identity.

National conservatism, on the other hand, advocates for a more insular America, emphasizing a narrow definition of national identity and advocating for increasingly restrictive immigration policies.

Even the separation of church and state, a long-established feature of the American political system, is increasingly evoking condemnation by prominent advocates for national conservative ideas.

National conservatives cannot claim Javier Milei as one of their own

Argentina’s recent presidential election, won by the self-described classical liberal and anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei, provides a fascinating case study that challenges preconceived notions about the alignment of conservative principles.

Upon first glance, comparisons between Milei and the MAGA movement in the United States may seem tempting, given the penchant for brash rhetoric and a rejection of political norms. However, delving beyond the surface reveals a stark contrast in policy objectives. 

While both Milei and the American right share some common ground in reducing taxes and regulations, the Argentinian’s agenda is distinctly pro-liberty, challenging the traditional aims of the “New Right.”

Milei’s political platform includes lowering taxes, slashing regulations, privatizing state industries, reducing the number of federal ministries, shifting to voucher-based education, insurance-based healthcare, and cutting spending significantly. Additionally, Milei takes pro-liberty stances on issues such as drug legalization, immigration, sex work, and LGBTQ+ rights.

This agenda, closer to the values of classical liberalism, sharply contrasts with the prevailing direction of the American right. While Milei advocates for a reduced government role in both social and economic spheres, the American right has increasingly embraced culture wars and economic intervention.

Milei’s triumph in Argentina appears as a rejection of the economic nationalism espoused by leading American politicians, from Biden’s “Buy American” mandates to Trump’s protectionist trade policies and anti-immigration stance. 

Drawing parallels with Argentina’s history, Milei’s victory echoes a return to the classical liberal ideals that once propelled the country to economic prosperity in the 19th century, only to decline when economic nationalism took root in the 1920s.

While foreign elections offer limited guidance for U.S. politicians due to differing political landscapes, Milei’s victory sends a powerful message to pro-freedom advocates in the northern hemisphere. 

It demonstrates the feasibility of running a campaign centered on reducing the size and scope of government, challenging the prevailing narrative that emphasizes a more muscular and centralized state.


Argentina’s political landscape, as reflected in Javier Milei’s electoral success, serves as an intriguing case study for those navigating the complex terrain of national conservatism. 

As the world grapples with shifting political ideologies, Milei’s victory challenges the American conservative movement to reconsider its direction, emphasizing the potential rewards of embracing bold, pro-liberty policies over the allure of authoritarian, right-wing populism.

The awkward and uncomfortable problem with national conservatism will be an important topic of discussion at Students For Liberty’s upcoming LibertyCon International

At LibertyCon, Joe Walsh, Heath Mayo, and Nick Gillespie will discuss the issues surrounding the modern American right as part of a panel moderated by Aaron Ross Powell.

Students For Liberty’s flagship annual event, LibertyCon International will be held in Washington, D.C., on February 2-4, 2024. It promises to be the place for engaging with leading experts and connecting with others who share a dedication to advancing pro-liberty ideas and creating a freer future.

Click the button below to sign up for updates and secure your spot at this exciting event. We can’t wait to see you there!

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.