|Editor Robert W. Merry|
|Categories Editorial magazine|
Publisher Jon Basil Utley
|Founder Scott McConnell, Patrick Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos|
First issue October 7, 2002; 14 years ago (2002-10-07)
The American Conservative (TAC) is a bi-monthly journal of opinion published by the American Ideas Institute. It was founded in 2002 to advocate for what it holds to be the original conservative values of peace, community, and fiscal restraint, rather than the ideology of "war, every man for himself, and endless deficits and debt" that it believes was the result of the modern conservative movement. It is opposed to the "left-wing ideologies that ran rampant in the 20th century and the right-wing, but not conservative, reaction that has only exacerbated the destruction wrought by the left."
In 2011 and 2012, the magazine expanded its website, adding several regular columnists. At present, some notable columnists include Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, Noah Millman, Andrew Bacevich, Kelly Vlahos, and Philip Giraldi.
The American Conservative is non-partisan and "devoted to the conservative disposition, not the Republican Party." It advocates fiscal conservatism, traditionalism, civil liberties, communitarian positions on urban planning and the environment, and a realist foreign policy based on military restraint and the national interest. It is a heterogeneous publication, and incorporates a range of voices that align with its broad editorial stance.
In 2002 The American Conservative was founded by Scott McConnell, Patrick Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos in opposition to the Iraq War. Daniel Strauss wrote:
The idea of The American Conservative was that there were enough who disagreed with mainstream conservatism—libertarians, paleoconservatives, and civil libertarian conservatives, among other dissenters—to warrant such a publication. While other conservative magazines like National Review and The Weekly Standard marched more or less in lockstep with the Bush Administration, The American Conservative argued for a different course—sometimes with greater ferocity than the major political magazines on the left.
Scott McConnell served as the magazine's first editor, followed by managing editor Kara Hopkins.
Before the 2006 midterm elections, The American Conservative urged its readers to vote for Democrats, saying, "It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome."
As of 2007, Buchanan and Taki ceased to be involved with the editorial operations of The American Conservative, although Buchanan remains on the board of its parent, the American Ideas Institute, and both continue to contribute columns. Ron Unz was named publisher in 2007. In 2011, Wick Allison became the magazine's publisher, followed in 2013 by Jon Basil Utley, the current publisher.
In 2010, Daniel McCarthy succeeded Kara Hopkins as editor. In September 2011, the magazine introduced an editorial redesign of its print publication, and in May 2012, a redesign of its website. In October 2014, Benjamin Schwarz, the former national and literary editor of The Atlantic, was named national editor of the magazine.
In November 2016, Robert W. Merry succeeded Daniel McCarthy as editor, with Lewis McCrary and Pratik Chougule as Executive Editors, and Robert VerBruggen as Managing Editor.
In 2009 Reihan Salam, National Review editor, wrote that the publication had "gained a devoted following as a sharp critic of the conservative mainstream."
In 2012 David Brooks, columnist at The New York Times, wrote:
The American Conservative has become one of the more dynamic spots on the political Web. Writers like Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison tend to be suspicious of bigness: big corporations, big government, a big military, concentrated power and concentrated wealth. Writers at that Web site, and at the temperamentally aligned Front Porch Republic, treasure tight communities and local bonds. They’re alert to the ways capitalism can erode community. Dispositionally, they are more Walker Percy than Pat Robertson.
Some notable contributors throughout the years at The American Conservative have included: Andrew Bacevich, Doug Bandow, Patrick Buchanan, Rod Dreher, Philip Giraldi, Peter Hitchens, Samuel P. Huntington, Jon Huntsman Jr., William S. Lind, John Mearsheimer, Rand Paul, and Jim Webb.