I have written a few other pieces examining if moral libertarianism is compatible with various ideologies (e.g. thin libertarianism, thick libertarianism, welfare liberalism, socialism). However, conservatism is yet another important ideology with lots of followers, and probably the most popular ideology worldwide at the moment. Hence, we need to answer the questions: is moral libertarianism compatible with conservatism? Can conservatives work with moral libertarians? Can one be a conservative and a moral libertarian at the same time?
Conservatism is a political ideology that has both economic and social aspects. Since moral libertarianism is actually compatible with any economic ideology as long as it is justified on liberty, and conservatives justify that small government economic philosophy on liberty, there is nothing incompatible here. Therefore, the rest of this article will focus on the social issues.
Moral libertarianism insists on equally distributing liberty, and hence moral agency, among every individual in society. Therefore, as moral libertarians, we insist that every individual be able to live according to their moral compass, as long as they do not infringe upon others' rights to do so. As promoting conservative ideas and living according to conservative values does not infringe upon any other person's moral agency, moral libertarians cannot be opposed to this kind of conservatism. In fact, moral libertarians have a responsibility to defend the right of conservatives to live according to their moral compass. While moral libertarianism does not say anything about abortion, for example, it says that everyone must be able to live according to their values on this issue. Therefore, moral libertarians absolutely support and defend the right of conservatives to voice their opposition to abortion under any circumstances, without social penalty. Furthermore, moral libertarians absolutely support and defend the rights of pro-life health professionals not to be involved in abortions.
On the other hand, moral libertarianism's principle of equal moral agency also means that no person can make cultural or moral decisions for another person. Therefore, we oppose government enforcement, and even encouragement or discouragement, of any worldview or lifestyle, and support ending such paternalistic actions where they have traditionally occured. This means we cannot accept some aspects of traditional conservatism. However, traditional conservatism's reliance on government intervention to uphold tradition actually assumes one thing: that they have the ability to do so. In a democracy, that would mean the conservative position has majority support. Evidently, this is not always the case, especially in the West in recent decades. Throughout history, when conservatives had majority support, they often used government power to enforce their morals. But this actually creates a precedent, allowing other groups to use government power similarly in the future. Hence, part of the modern conservative experience is to fear leftist authorities refusing to leave conservatives alone to live their conservative lives. A switch to the principles of moral libertarianism will effectively prevent this from happening.
Conservatism is also not a monolithic thing. People who wish to uphold tradition may choose to 'adapt' differently, in the face of changed circumstances. For example, while most conservatives oppose same-sex marriage at the moment, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron famously said that his support for same-sex marriage was due to his conservative values. If you happen to believe that marriage equality is key to preserving the relevance of marriage as an insitution for the future of humanity (like I do), then you would naturally see the majority conservative position as actually aiding anti-marriage radicals on the far-left. Members of conservative parties around the world who hold this view (but are not in leadership positions like Cameron was) are often pressured to stay silent. In contrast, moral libertarians believe that everyone should be equally able to make their case in the free market of ideas, allowing all views to be heard.
In conclusion, moral libertarianism provides plenty of space for conservatives to both promote their values and live according to their moral compass. While we have no choice but to oppose old-school conservative governments' sometimes paternalistic policies, the other side of the same coin means that we will always defend conservatives' right to their own moral agency against those leftists who believe that people should be pressured into going with their program. This is actually quite a good deal, especially given that modern conservatives can no longer be certain that they always have majority support.