Libertarian Party Decision to Pick Trump to Headline Their Convention Not Going Over Well

News & Politics

The Libertarian Party invited Donald Trump to be their headline speaker at their party’s convention later this month. Now, Libertarians are a little goofy, but they agree with conservatives on some important issues, especially on fiscal issues like low taxes, restrained spending, and the limited role government should play in society.

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Grabbing a headliner like Trump for their national convention would seem to be a coup for the minor Libertarian Party. And many Libertarians see it that way.

But there are some Libertarians who agree more with the socially liberal Democratic Party and hence have been bad-mouthing Trump’s appearance.

Libertarian Party National Committee Chair Angela McArdle told The Washington Post that opposition has come from “a small noisy faction,” and the dissent will not change her mind about inviting Trump.

“I can certainly understand that there are a handful of people allergic to relevance, afraid to confront their political opposition, afraid of losing control of the narrative,” she said, “but in 50-plus years, the Libertarian Party has never been on the main stage politically and this is an incredible opportunity for us to bring someone who grabs the spotlight and put them on our stage.”

And that’s the bottom line. Getting Trump to speak at the Libertarian Party’s signature event will bring the small party incredible recognition and media coverage. They couldn’t buy the kind of attention they’re going to get.

Trump’s participation in the party’s national convention is a first — no current or former president has spoken at the event. It comes at a time when Democrats and Republicans worry that third-party candidates might sway an expected close contest in November. (Libertarian candidates have typically attracted small shares of the presidential vote, but in a close race between Trump and President Biden, even a single-digit percentage showing can be significant to the outcome.)

Trump said in a statement that he aims to appeal to libertarian voters who share his goal of defeating Biden. And McArdle said the speech will attract attention the party needs as it has seen a recent downturn in its membership rolls and coffers.

“We must all work together to help advance freedom and liberty for every American,” Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said in a statement after his invitation was announced.

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Chase Oliver, Lars Mapstead, Jacob Hornberger, and Mike ter Maat, are all seeking the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination and don’t like the idea of Trump sucking all the air out of the convention.

“Could you imagine if the Republican National Committee invited me to come be a main speaker at the convention,” Mapstead said. “It seems ridiculous, right?”

If Mr. Mapstead had the media drawing power of Donald Trump, it wouldn’t be ridiculous at all. What’s ridiculous is some nobody trying to compare himself to Trump.

Hornberger called it “an abomination.”

“People have come to perceive that Libertarian Party as right-wing, and he will just be reinforcing that image,” Hornberger said.

Critics of the latest turn in the Libertarian Party, which is now controlled by a faction of the party called the Mises Caucus, said the group has allowed increasingly right-wing policies and ideas to infiltrate the party, such as the move to argue for the security of the Southern U.S. border and recent allegations of bigotry. McArdle told podcaster Austin Petersen last week that “Donald Trump is a much better person and president than Joe Biden,” further infuriating those in the party seeking to distance themselves from Trump.

There is still a sizable segment of the Libertarian Party that opposes the “get tough” border policies Trump and many on the right advocate. And the abhorrent drug policies of the party need reform.

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But Trump will likely concentrate on the issues that unite Republicans and Libertarians. And that’s bad news for Joe Biden. 

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