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Editor's Pick

What’s Donald Trump Doing at the Libertarian Party Convention?

David Boaz

The Libertarian Party presidential nominating convention is coming up this weekend, with Donald Trump as a featured speaker. This is apparently the first time in US history that a political party has had another party’s nominee at its own nominating convention. And what a choice!

The Libertarian Party was founded to “challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual” and to specifically run candidates for office on a platform of personal liberty, economic liberty, and a peaceful foreign policy.

Needless to say, that’s not Donald Trump’s platform, nor does it describe his actions as president. Which is why most libertarians, except the LP faction that won control of the party in 2022, are mystified and appalled about why a self‐​proclaimed libertarian party would invite a would‐​be autocrat to dominate media coverage of its convention.

Cato libertarians have always operated outside of the political system. We do not support politicians or political parties. However, we stand ready as always to work with Republican or Democrats when we share common ground and objectives and oppose them when we disagree.

Just posted at the Washington Post is a column by Cato president and CEO Peter Goettler exploring this mystery. Goettler explains what libertarianism is:

Libertarianism, at its core, is the modern manifestation of classical liberalism, the transformative movement that, beginning in the 18th century, challenged monarchs, autocrats, mercantilism, caste society, slavery and religious persecution. As heirs to that tradition, libertarians believe in individual freedom, equality under the law, pluralism, toleration, free speech, freedom of religion, government by consent of the governed, the rule of law, private property, free markets and limited constitutional government.

And how Trump differs (as if it wasn’t obvious):

He allowed government spending and debt to continue to spiral upward, increasing the national debt by $8.4 trillion. Federal outlays soared from $4 trillion his first year (2017) to $6.8 trillion in his last year. He persists in railing against immigration and free trade, supports further expansion of presidential power and seeks to crack down on political enemies.

He also points out how sadly un‐​libertarian the LP’s current leadership and its messaging are.

Read the whole thing.

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