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Editorial: The Libertarian Party's peculiar invitation to Donald Trump

The Orange County Register Editorial Board, The Orange County Register on

Published in Op Eds

Former President Donald Trump is set to speak at the Libertarian Party’s National Convention on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

It’s in some sense both a big win and loss for the party. For a former president to address the party is a symbolic victory. But, on the other hand, it is a bizarre thing for the party to do given that Trump is neither the Libertarian Party presidential candidate nor is he in any meaningful sense a libertarian. The only beneficiary of this, at the margins, is Trump, who has made clear he wants the vote of registered Libertarians.

“We all have to remember that our goal is to defeat the Worst President in the History of the United States, BY FAR, Crooked Joe Biden,” he said in a statement. “If Libertarians join me and the Republican Party, where we have many Libertarian views, the election won’t even be close.”

The underfunded and low-profile campaign of Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen received just over 1% of the popular vote in 2020. That was way down from the 3.28% in favor of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in 2016. Still, given the close margins of presidential races, it makes sense for Trump to seek the support of Libertarians.

But, stepping back, it has to be said that very little of what Trump stood for as president was consistent with a libertarian approach to government.

It is true that, on the one hand, Trump backed tax cuts, modest criminal justice reforms and at least spoke critically of wars abroad. But on the other hand, Trump gladly signed off on massive budget deficits even before the pandemic.

He imposed tariffs, or taxes, on imported goods from all over the world.

 

He never actually ended any of the wars started or continued by his predecessors and actually escalated U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Yemen.

For all of his complaining about federal surveillance, his administration actively opposed efforts to rein in the surveillance state.

And Trump not only scapegoated migrants seeking a better life but championed more restrictive immigration policies.

President Joe Biden might be a crooked, awful president. But that doesn’t mean Libertarians should view Trump as a rightful alternative.

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