I had the sore-footed pleasure this week to attend FreedomFest in Memphis. You probably didn’t hear about it. Turning Point’s growing activist machine and Tucker Carlson’s interviews more or less made sure of that, and it doesn’t help that the Libertarian movement is at what can only be – generously – described as a nadir, cast adrift between movements that have left them behind. But if you were one of the thousand-ish people who did attend, you got a treat.
Three candidates in the Presidential field right now stand out because they aren’t running on grievance or past accomplishments – they’re running on issues. Donald Trump (rightly) decries the enormous intelligence and federal law enforcement conspiracies that it took to evict him from office, but he’s not talking much about the future, barring occasional (silly) claims that he can end the Ukraine War in a single day. Joe Biden lies about his past in the hopes that people will forget his geriatric present. Ron DeSantis wistfully retells things he did three years ago. The rest of the field is no better. None of them are talking about the future. None of them are laying out a compelling case for why they should be the next President.
Meanwhile, the three who popped in to speak at FreedomFest are: Vivek Ramaswamy, Larry Elder, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. aren’t wasting their time on petty attacks. They’re laying out real cases for why they all have roles on the national stage going forward.
Ramaswamy spoke on the first day, hitting a wide variety of topics with nuanced and thoughtful – also apparently off-the-cuff – commentary and solutions. It was, as almost all his appearances are, a tour-de-force in creative policy. Elder was up next on day three, and while he might not have Ramaswamy’s range, his focus on fatherlessness is powerful and timely. Elder pinpoints fatherlessness as the key driver of so many of our current social ills and turmoil. And he’s right. On the final day, it was RFK’s turn. I never thought I would witness a room full of Libertarian and Republican conference goers clap for ten minutes straight listening to a Democrat talk about environmentalism – but that’s exactly what Bobby’s kid did: focusing on things we can all agree shouldn’t be allowed to happen to our environment (like toxic chemical runoff) vs the left’s nebulous government cash grab obsession with CO2.
None of them are even remotely likely to win their Party’s nomination. But America needs these voices on the main stage, and all should be given the opportunity to debate their opponents. That won’t happen for Kennedy, obviously – there is zero chance the Democrat Party allows anyone to turn Dementia Joe into the public punching bag his declining intellect and rhetorical skills would make him. But Ramaswamy will be onstage, and Elder deserves that opportunity also.