Does Donald Trump Belong at FreedomFest?


FreedomFest is an annual gathering of speakers and listeners interested in, as the title indicates, "Freedom." Reason folk have likely appeared at every one of them; I've personally spoken at more than three, and this year as in past years there is a dedicated Reason Day at the conference, Saturday July 11. The event launches tomorrow at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, and is projected to attract around 2,000 attendees.

A last minute addition to the roster was announced this week in a press release I received via email from FreedomFest:

Donald Trump, now one of the leading candidates for President, will address us on Saturday, July 11 in the Celebrity Ballroom.

We've asked Mr. Trump to speak on "What the American Dream Means to Me, and How We Can Make America Great Again." 

We expect a standing room only crowd with this last minute addition to our program. His address will be followed by Q&A from the audience, and a press conference. 

Donald Trump is to tell a FreedomFest crowd about making America great. Mr. Trump—a fine TV entertainer to be sure—whose bona fides vis a vis freedom include loving (and practicing) eminent domain, hating free immigration, being pro-tariff and pro-war and believing Social Security and Medicare are secure and should be inviolate. (He has been good on the drug war in the past.) He's been losing business partners all over the place since his controversial presidential campaign launched over various unsavory and unpopular views, most aimed at people who dare cross the American border. Some grumbled that Trump was an inappropriate choice for this gathering.

Event organizer Mark Skousen (who has a history of inviting political figures to libertarian events whose presence pisses people off, as see his welcoming Rudy Giuliani to a confab of the Foundation for Economic Education back when Skousen ran that operation) tells me in an email today that he thinks the choice is appropriate, even though:

I agree that Trump is not a libertarian.  But we are a big tent conference with both libertarians and conservatives speaking at FreedomFest.  We also bill ourselves as "the world's largest gathering of free minds," and I'd like to think that libertarians are open minded enough to hear and debate Trump.  He will be questioned by the audience, so here's your chance to express your differences with him.  

Libertarians who decide to sit through Mr. Trump's presentation at FreedomFest on Saturday, the challenge is before you.