They tend to be more critical of federal power over state and local authority, more willing to question free trade, harshly critical of further immigration and to follow an isolationist foreign policy. They are also more critical of the welfare state than the neoconservatives tend to be.
The name "paleoconservative" ("old conservatism") was chosen to differentiate itself from "neoconservatism" ("new conservatism"). The rift is often traced back to a dispute over the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities by the incoming Reagan Administration. The preferred candidate was professor Mel Bradford and he was replaced after an effective media and lobbying effort (focussing on his dislike of Abraham Lincoln) by the less experienced William Bennett.
The paleoconservatives view the neoconservatives as interlopers. They furthermore tend to see the methods of the neo-conservatives as simply those of right wing Trotskyites and not more civilised Conservatives. Their view of the mainstream conservative movement is that of a self interested movement lacking the self confidence to defend its old ideas.
Paleoconservatives specialise in breaking what they regard as liberal taboos. Two particular targets of their ire are Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. They regard American culture as an offshoot of the European cultural tradition, and so will also defend French foreign policy or attack the idea that all Germans were equally complicit in the holocaust. Although not a racist movement per se, some paleo-conservative figures, especially Samuel Francis have links to racist groups such as American Renaissance. Paleoconservatism has recently become the principal operating philosophy of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). In its publications and conferences it often champions pre-WWII ideas, such as isolationism, cultural homogeneity, and a deep suspicion of the market economy.
The best known paleoconservative is probably the commentator Patrick Buchanan, whose culture war speech is probably the most widely known paleoconservative critique. The main paleoconservative magazine is Chronicles Magazine. There are many libertarian followers of Murray Rothbard who, although not Paleoconservatives, are sympathetic to many of the themes and are involved in many of the same activities
Since the end of the Cold War, a rift has developed within the conservative movement between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. Although the demarcation line is often indistinct and shifting, harsh words have of late been exchanged between David Frum of National Review and Patrick Buchanan of The American Conservative. Frum charged that paleocons, in their sometimes harsh criticism of President George W. Bush and the war on terror, have become unpatriotic supporters of America's enemies. Buchanan and others have retorted that "neocons" run the U.S. government in pursuit of global empire and for the benefit of Israel and, in doing so, violate conservative principles of sovereignty. Charges of anti-Semitism have also been bandied between these conservatives.