One item stood out at last week’s Republican presidential primary debate: There was not an explicitly nor implicitly identified libertarian candidate. Ron Paul represented the libertarian faction in Republican debates in 2008 and 2012, and his son Rand Paul assumed the mantle in 2016. Prior libertarian-leaning Republican primary candidates include Barry Goldwater in 1964, Jack Kemp in 1988, and Steve Forbes in 1996 and 2000, yet no such candidate can claim the position in this year’s Republican primary. The lack of a libertarian candidate is emblematic of the right’s shift away from free-market fundamentalism and toward a more robust social conservatism.
My own ideological evolution is demonstrative of the right’s shift away from libertarianism. Eight years ago, The Federalist published my essay making the Christian