Freedom Fest buzz abounds in Las Vegas

Freedom New Mexico

Anyone curious about the direction of the conservative or libertarian movements, priorities for Tea Party enthusiasts or Republicans, or the hottest topics bound to affect the 2010 presidential elections, ought to pay close attention to issues raised at Freedom Fest, through Saturday in Las Vegas. Last year’s event turned out to be a bellwether of critical issues going into the 2010 midterm election cycle, and this year’s gathering likely will shape the debate during this GOP presidential nomination season. At least one GOP presidential candidate was scheduled to speak at the event, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

Freedom Fest is dubbed “The worlds largest gathering of free minds,” where free-market, right-leaning intellectuals, business leaders, political pundits and others discuss and debate political and economic issues ranging from the national debt, inflation, foreign policy, public employee unions, drug legalization, education reform and health care.

Scheduled speakers include former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and presidential hopeful Herman Cain, left, Peter Thiel, the libertarian co-founder of PayPal, center, and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

Last year’s event drew an estimated 2,000-plus attendees, and organizer and founder Mark Skousen projects participants this year will number upward of 3,000.

Scheduled speakers include Steve Forbes, on “Are We Headed for an American Revolution — or a French Revolution?” Peter Thiel, the libertarian co-founder of PayPal, will speak on “Stalled Technology in America: End of the Future?” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will talk about “Re-Branding Capitalism in the 21st Century.” Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul will also address the audience. Register Columnist Brian Calle and contributor Steven Greenhut will speak on public-sector pensions, education reform, California government and military interventionism. Calle will be blogging highlights of the sessions on the OC Register’s Opinion blog, ocregister.com/orangepunch.

Representatives from the libertarian Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, Hillsdale College, the Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute and others are scheduled to participate.

Last year’s Freedom Fest reflected the political mood of a large segment of the electorate, and signaled a change in sentiment nationally that ultimately ushered in to office more conservatives and Republicans in the 2010 election. This year, we expect the session again will deliver greater insights into the direction of the liberty movement for this election cycle.