The American Conservative

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The American Conservative
The American Conservative magazine logo.png
Editor Robert W. Merry
Categories Editorial magazine
Frequency Bi-monthly
Publisher Jon Basil Utley[1]
Founder Scott McConnell, Patrick Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos
First issue October 7, 2002; 21 years ago (2002-10-07)
Country United States
Based in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Language English
ISSN 1540-966X

The American Conservative (TAC) is a bi-monthly journal of opinion published by the American Ideas Institute. It reflects traditional American conservatism that has argued vigorously against American interventionism, against a debt-based fiscal policy used to finance adventurism abroad and government growth at home, and against the intrusions on Americans’ private lives by state security apparatus. In general, TAC represents an anti-war and paleoconservative voice against the dominance of what it sees as a neoconservative strain on the Right.

The magazine's stated editorial position is "that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist and the wisdom that underlies them. So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism—fantasies of global hegemony, the hubristic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, economic theories that are utopian and ruinous, and an eagerness to substitute diatribe for debate. We believe in the conservatism of our forefathers: prudent, adaptive, humble, and grateful."[2]

In 2011 and 2012, the magazine expanded its website, adding as daily columnists Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, and Noah Millman, with additional contributions by Scott Galupo, Kelley Vlahos, Philip Giraldi, Samuel Goldman, and Jordan Bloom.


In 2002 The American Conservative was founded by Scott McConnell, Patrick Buchanan, and Taki Theodoracopulos in opposition to the Iraq War. "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."[3]

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."[4]

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.[5] Ron Unz was named publisher in 2007.[6] Some paleoconservatives regard him as a proponent of mass immigration.[6][7][8] Unz has since published two major investigations for the magazine, one on the allegedly low incidence of Hispanic crime[9] and one on China's growth.[10] In 2011, Wick Allison became the magazine's publisher.

In its April 20, 2009, issue TAC announced that "[t]he economic crisis is exacting a toll on the publishing world, and The American Conservative has not been spared" and that without "a major new infusion of capital", it would print its final edition on May 7, 2009. It subsequently returned to publication, but as a monthly.[11][12]

In 2010, Daniel McCarthy succeeded Kara Hopkins as editor. In June 2011, Wick Allison, a former publisher of National Review and owner of D Magazine in Dallas, was named president and CEO of the American Ideas Institute, the magazine's publisher.[13] 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.[14]

In November 2016, Robert W. Merry succeeded Daniel McCarthy as editor, with Lewis McCrary and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos as Executive Editors.


In 2009 Reihan Salam, National Review editor,[15] wrote that the publication had "gained a devoted following as a sharp critic of the conservative mainstream."[16]

In 2012 David Brooks, columnist at The New York Times, wrote:

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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.[17]

At an event at the University of New Orleans in March 2017, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance shared, “I did this interview with Rod [Dreher] at The American Conservative magazine…and then the book [Hillbilly Elegy]…exploded!”[18]

Notable contributors


  1. Masthead / The American Conservative
  2. American Ideas Institute
  3. Daniel Strauss: The American Conservatives Next Step The Campus Progress, March 29, 2009.
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  5. Epstein, Marcus, "The American Conservative, John Lukacs, and The Unnecessary Review," TakiMag, May 24, 2008.
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  7. Dan Phillips: My Letter to the American Conservative Magazine Conservative Heritage Times, 9 April 2007.
  8. Steve Sailer: Unzism – the (new) doctrine of American Decline VDARE, 11 November 1999.
  9. Ron Unz: His-Panic The American Conservative, 1 March 2010
  10. Ron Unz: China's rise, America's Fall The American Conservative, 17 April 2012
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  16. Reihan Salam: The Mark Sanford Revolution? The Atlantic, March 13, 2009.
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External links

Selected articles

Articles about The American Conservative