Freedom Rising: FreedomFest 2016

FreedomFest 2016: The world’s largest gathering of free minds gathers again in Las Vegas

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— Last year Donald Trump and Marco Rubio spoke at FreedomFest. In this year’s press release for the annual libertarian, free-market conference, organizer Mark Skousen writes—perhaps tongue-in-cheek—that his appearance at FreedomFest may have been a turning point in The Donald’s campaign. If so, it didn’t work out that well for Rubio, who arguably gave a better and certainly a more coherent speech.

This year neither victor nor vanquished will return to FreedomFest. Instead, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson returns. Will FreedomFest boost his candidacy? Is Johnson capable of helping Hillary win the presidency the way Perot helped Bill to win in 1992?

The Anthem Film Festival at FreedomFest 2016

Such questions are really beyond the scope of FreedomFest, which isn’t really about presidential politics at all. Instead, FreedomFest is more about philosophy, history, science, technology, business, economics, investing and healthy living. It’s a cornucopia for the Renaissance mind.

Although it is not quite accurate to label it a libertarian conference, it is certainly not for modern liberals, with their tight focus on race, class and gender—and how to change them all.

Still, the occasional liberal does show, as when last year Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman came to debate Steve Moore, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and now with Heritage. It was a truly David-versus-Goliath event and, as in the Biblical version, Goliath didn’t stand a chance.

How will FreedomFest top that? Skousen believes it can happen.

This year’s biggest debate will be “Capitalism versus Socialism:  Free to Choose or Free to Lose?” John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, will take on John Roemer, Yale professor, Bernie Sanders supporter and one of the top Marxist/socialists in the country.

Dinesh D’Souza is a regular debater at FreedomFest, and he’s never lost a debate or a trial. This year D’Souza debates Scientific American’s Michael Shermer on the question, “The Bible: The Good Book or Bad Theology?”

Steve Moore returns to debate biographer Lanny Ebenstein on the question, “Should the Rich Pay a Progressive or Flat Tax?” Guess which side Moore is taking.

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FreedomFest’s annual mock trial, moderated by the ever-entertaining talk show host Kennedy, with live coverage by C-SPAN is entitled, “Global Warming on Trial.”

Real as the debates are, FreedomFest is about a lot more than debates.

Freedom organizations and think tanks at FreedomFest 2016 include Cato, Heritage, Reason, Students for Liberty, Americans for Prosperity and more. Conference attendees can find them in a gigantic exhibit hall, aptly named the “Trade Show for Liberty.”

This year’s theme is Freedom Rising. At a time when the liberal-dominated federal government is trying control everything down to and including which bathrooms we use, this seems a hopelessly optimistic theme.

That’s FreedomFest. An eclectic, optimistic, and upbeat look at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

FreedomFest will take place July 13-16 at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas.  For more details, ticket information and full schedule, visit

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