KNAPP COLUMN: Public Service Announcement: No, Trump and Kennedy Aren’t Libertarian Presidential Candidates

Published 8:30 am Friday, May 17, 2024

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In early May, the Libertarian Party’s national committee announced a prominent speaker at the party’s convention over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, DC: Former US president Donald Trump.

A few days later, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a post on X (formerly Twitter), issued a challenge:

“We’re both going to be speaking at the upcoming Libertarian convention on May 24 and 25. It’s perfect neutral territory for you and me to have a debate where you can defend your record for your wavering supporters. “

The party hasn’t publicly confirmed any invitation (offered or accepted) to Kennedy, but maybe that’s coming.

I’m not going to argue — here, anyway — over the wisdom of a political party inviting two of its most prominent opponents to use its national convention as a campaign rally location or debate venue.

I do, however, want all you voters out there to know three things about this … things that the media coverage seems to either leave unmentioned or gloss over:

1. Donald Trump isn’t a libertarian;

2. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. isn’t a libertarian; and

3. Neither Trump nor Kennedy will be the Libertarian Party’s 2024 presidential nominee.

We’ve got a pretty big field of announced candidates for that presidential nomination.

Neither Trump nor Kennedy have declared for that nomination (in fact, after flirting with doing so, Kennedy publicly rejected the idea).

Neither Trump nor Kennedy are eligible for that nomination … or at least they won’t be if they address the convention prior to the nominee being selected. According to the Libertarian National Committee’s policy manual:

“No person shall be scheduled as a convention speaker unless that person has signed this statement: ‘As a condition of my being scheduled to speak, I agree to neither seek nor accept nomination for any office to be selected by delegates at the upcoming Libertarian Party convention if the voting for that office occurs after my speech.’”

Since we haven’t selected our nominee yet, I’m not going to sing his or her praises to you or try to convince you to vote Libertarian. I just don’t want you to be surprised when you look at your ballot in November and don’t see the name “Trump” or “Kennedy” next to the name “Libertarian Party.”

Between now and November, I hope you’ll take time to familiarize yourself with libertarian ideas and with the Libertarian Party’s candidates for office across the US. They deserve your attention and consideration.