Peter Berkowitz writing in the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review:
Both the quest for purity and the quest for unity [among conservatives] are misguided. This is because modern conservatism in general and certainly American conservatism in particular is a paradoxical orientation. The central paradox pervades the writing of Edmund Burke. Rightly recognized as having informally and unofficially but powerfully launched modern conservatism in 1790 with his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke cherished two fundamental goods, liberty and tradition, that do not obviously cohere and sometimes obviously conflict. Constitutional government in America intensifies the paradox. Insofar as American conservatism involves the conservation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—and how could it not?—it puts a revolutionary doctrine and a founding document, forged by men in the heat of the political moment and constructed with numerous painful compromises, at the heart of the conservative mission.
I think this phenomenon is, in large part, a symptom of the problem that many conservatives – though claiming to advocate individual liberty – have not rejected certain collectivist principles. Many still argue for free market capitalism on practical grounds (i.e. it produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people). Conservatives must return to a principled stance in defense of the individual rights, for the sake of the individual (no practical arguments for the “common good” needed). Only when conservatives once again stand on principle, can the various factions of the conservative movement be reconciled and their policy conflicts resolved.