Opinion

The libertarians are coming

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Lee Edwards
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      Lee Edwards

      Lee Edwards, Ph.D., a leading historian of American conservatism, is the Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org). In-house authority on the movement for the prominent Washington think tank, Edwards is the author of 20 books, including biographies of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater and—his latest—William F. Buckley Jr.



      Edwards also is chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, where he spearheaded fundraising for the memorial, dedicated in 2007 just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. In 2009, he launched the online Global Museum on Communism.



      Edwards is an adjunct professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, where he earned his doctorate in world politics. He is a past president of the Philadelphia Society and a media fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was founding director of the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.



      Edwards, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Duke University, did graduate work at the Sorbonne, Paris. He and his wife, Anne, reside in Alexandria, Va.

LAS VEGAS—They came from Arizona and Australia, Boston and the Bahamas, South Carolina and South Africa to raise high the elixir of liberty in this, the most laissez-faire city in America.

More than 2,100 strong, they crowded the corridors of Bally’s Casino and Resort to attend FreedomFest 2010, the largest-ever “non-political” gathering of libertarians.

They booed the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties as cynical apostles of Big Government. They shared horror stories about the impact of federal spending and debt on their portfolios, while lingering at exhibits touting gold as a solid investment.

They listened intently as publisher Steve Forbes and Whole Foods founder John Mackey disclosed some secrets of their success.

“A great leader challenges the conventional,” said Forbes, who advocated a flat tax while running for president and insists it’s still a good idea.

Because he never took a business course in college, Mackey said, he didn’t know what “couldn’t be done.” Take, for example, making money while behaving in an ethical way and providing healthy food.

Economist and investment analyst Mark Skousen, the genial chairman and founder of FreedomFest, made sure attendees got their money’s worth July 8-11. The agenda was crowded with 164 speakers and more than 100 talks, debates and breakout sessions.

Heritage Foundation fellow Brian Walsh, co-author of the new book “One Nation Under Arrest,” raised many an eyebrow when he reported that Americans are subject to more than 4,400 federal criminal statutes. And that’s not accounting for “regulatory crimes,” so plentiful that the Congressional Research Service admits it can’t calculate the total.

At a reverential luncheon, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden waxed rhapsodic about Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and high priestess of Objectivism. Rand was, they agreed, generous, sensitive, an almost hypnotic speaker, infinitely patient with “eager, inquiring minds.”

The entranced faces of young female acolytes in the audience dimmed considerably, though, when the Brandens admitted that Rand taught that man is defined by his relationship to reality, woman by her relationship to man.

“None of us are perfect,” Barbara conceded.

Leon Louw, executive director of South Africa’s Free Market Foundation, stunned listeners when he asked them to name the world’s fastest-growing economy of the past 30 years, and then supplied the answer: Botswana.

Africa was an economic disaster, Louw said, but many of the continent’s nations have moved steadily toward economic freedom.

Memo to President Obama: The finance minister of South Africa, governed by the Marxist African National Congress, has called government bailouts “immoral.”

  • DaveT3000

    If the the Libertoids want Vegas, they can have it…

  • voltairefree

    I read this article with some interest until I came upon the name of conference attendee and speaker Steve Forbes, Mr. Skousen’s former employer at Forbes Magazine.

    Hasn’t Mr. Forbes been one of the leading and most vociferous supporters of of the NeoCon agenda with its never ending and increasingly disastrous wars? Isn’t Steve Forbes on intimate terms with the very same people, such as as Richard Perle and William Kristol, who have openly suggested that Ron Paul is nothing more than a friend of terrorists (or worse) for his opposition to our Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures.

    Steve Forbes is no more a libertarian than Obama is. His appearance at this conference show that the libertarian movement, like that of the Tea Party-ers, is being increasingly infiltrated by the very same Republican establishment which , under the regime George Bush the junior, was instrumental in initially getting our country into the mess it is today.

    I also get the funny feeling that this event might have been financially underwritten by the wealthy Mr. Forbes with the intention of attempting to neutralize what he feels is an increasing threat to the utterly corrupt Republican ruling class , an group which he is a very influential member of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Olsen/100000663102774 Chris Olsen

    One Nation, under debt, with federal funds for the well connected and pay-offs for voting demographics.

    Now that we’re out of money there’s no room for anyone but Libertarians.

    Ron Paul is not all libertarians BTW. He’s only one man.

  • LibertarianBlue

    Ron Paul practices what he preaches unlike alot of the Neocon scum who pretend to stand for liberty when they are just as statist as the liberals who they pretend to rail against. Dr Paul is the only one in Washington who deserves respect from every working person in the nation.

  • ElrayB

    Was Barney Frank there holding hands with Ron Paul? That’s where the LIB-ertarians are now, waiting to respond to all of the Ross Perot comments they are sure to receive.
    Their leader has aligned himself with the Progressives so good bye and good riddance to just another group who isn’t for what America was founded on and they can join the rest of the Progressives on the long walk down a short pier.

    • gregbo

      Ron Paul believes that foriegn military adventures in undeclared wars are unconstitutional and can only be financed by debt and inflation created by the FED. These consevative beliefs are exactly what “America was founded on”. He’s co-sponsored a bill with Frank that would roll back military spending which would reduce the federal debt. What part of that qualifies as “progressive”? If you’re worried about progressive Republicans how about McCain/Feingold or Mitt “socialized medicine in Mass” Romney or George W. “international spreader of democracy” Bush or Sarah “everybody gets a welfare check from Exxon” Palin. Will the real conservative please stand up? Thank you Dr. Paul.