In his 1944 work, The Road To Serfdom, F. A. Hayek noted the misuse of the words freedom and liberty:
"Freedom" and "Liberty" are now words so worn that one must hesitate to employ them to express the ideals for which they stood during that period.1
He was referring to the push towards socialism and how the socialist revolutionists were using these words while demanding state planning of every human economic interaction.
Today the same thing can be said about many conservative groups. In recent history conservatives have been responsible for endless war and numerous interventions in the affairs of other countries, the jailing of millions of people based on which drug they chose to use, censorship of anything they find offensive, and demanding that government manage (and often deny) the relationships between loving couples if they happen to be different than the society norm. Many conservatives have embraced the stripping away of basic legal rights we have always enjoyed as Americans, including the denial of habeus corpus. Conservatives have defended the incarceration and torture of thousands of enemy combatants, most often without any legal review. Today they demand that immigrants be rounded up and sent away while demanding freedom and liberty for others.
Immediately after taking socialists to task for their misuse of the words "freedom" and "liberty", Hayek sets up a definition of Liberty that conservatives should take note of:
"Tolerance" is, perhaps, the only word which still preserves the full meaning of the principle which during the whole of this period was in the ascendant and which only in recent times has again been in decline, to disappear completely with the rise of the totalitarian state.2
I applaud many on the right for rediscovering liberty and I hope that they will abandon many of their statist beliefs. Perhaps some of them will actually read the words of our founders and the many works of classical liberal thinkers. I can only hope that those on the left rediscover the original meaning of liberalism.
To learn more I recommend two sources. The first is a debate published by the Reason Foundation titled "Where Do Libertarians Belong?" This debate first appeared in the August-September 2010 print edition of Reason magazine. It presents three separate viewpoints on where Libertarians belong in the political spectrum. The second is embedded below. It is a debate titled "Libertarians Versus Conservatives" that was sponsored by the Students for Liberty.
1, 2 Hayek, The Road To Serfdom, The Definitive Edition. The quotes provided are both part of the essay titled "The Abandoned Road." Page 68-69