What Is the Future for Conservatism? A Debate

March 06, 2021
7:30 p.m. ET

Who gets to speak for conservatism in 2021 and beyond?

That’s a question on a lot of people’s minds. We’re hearing new ideas and rethinking old pieties.

And in a major debate on Saturday night, March 6, you can watch five prominent figures make their case for the ideas that should guide the American right.

By design, the five debaters represent very different perspectives. So that means you (and everyone else in the audience) will hear lots of things you don’t agree with.

But the debaters represent philosophies that have profoundly influenced American conservatism in recent decades and continue to shape major institutions today.

Should those positions hold similar sway in conservatism in 2021 and beyond? Tune in at 7:30 p.m. ET on March 6 to hear the five debaters make their case.

They are:

Ross Douthat, Charles C. W. Cooke, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Daniel McCarthy, William Kristol




  • Charles C. W. Cooke, NationalReview.com editor and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto
  • Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist
  • William Kristol, director of Defending Democracy Together, cofounder of the Weekly Standard
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason editor in chief
  • Daniel McCarthy, Modern Age editor

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute works with thousands of college students each year. With so much noise out there, young people have a hard time making sense of where conservatism is heading—or where it should be heading.

This debate them will give them a clearer understanding of how they should apply their principles to the world today.

It will help you make sense of a complex and contentious situation, too.

Donald Trump is no longer president. But that doesn’t mean conservatives can roll back the clock to 1980 or 1964.

So what ideas should guide conservatives today?

This is the debate conservatism needs now. Forget polls and posturing and political calculations. This is about the principles that conservatives should steer by . . .

. . . and about the very nature of conservatism.

This debate will air live on Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. ET. It is part of the Diana Davis Spencer Debate Series presented by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

You can watch live online. But reserve your spot now! Online attendance is capped at 500. Don’t miss out!


Charles C. W. Cooke
Charles C. W. Cooke

Charles C. W. Cooke is the editor of NationalReview.com, cohost of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen podcast, and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto. He is a frequent guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and has broadcast for the BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business.

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat joined the New York Times as an op-ed columnist in 2009, becoming the youngest regular op-ed writer in the paper’s history. He cohosts the Times op-ed podcast, The Argument, and serves as film critic at National Review. Douthat is the bestselling author of several books, including, most recently, The Decadent Society. He was an active ISI student as an undergraduate at Harvard.

William Kristol
William Kristol

William Kristol is founding director of Defending Democracy Together, an organization dedicated to defending America’s liberal democratic norms, principles, and institutions. The cofounder of the Weekly Standard, he is now editor at large of The Bulwark. Having served in senior positions in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, Kristol understands government from the inside; as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, he has studied American politics and society from the outside. Kristol frequently appears on major television talk shows, and he is the host of the highly regarded video series and podcast Conversations with Bill Kristol.

Katherine Mangu-Ward
Katherine Mangu-Ward

Katherine Mangu-Ward is editor in chief of Reason, overseeing all of Reason’s print, digital, and video journalism. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. She is a frequent commentator on radio and television networks such as National Public Radio, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

Daniel McCarthy
Daniel McCarthy

Daniel McCarthy is editor of ISI’s Modern Age: A Conservative Review. He served as editor of the American Conservative from 2010 through 2016. His writing has appeared in the New York TimesUSA TodayThe Spectator, the National Interest, Reason, and other publications. NPR, the BBC, and many other outlets seek out McCarthy for his commentary.

Johnny Burtka
John A. Burtka, IV (moderator)

John A. Burtka, IV, is president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Previously he served as executive director and acting editor of the American Conservative magazine. Johnny has appeared on Fox News and Fox Business and written for the Washington Post, the Richmond Times-DispatchFirst Things, the American Mind, and the Intercollegiate Review, among other publications. He has been a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute and has participated in academic fellowships at Washington College and the Trinity Forum.