Freedom Summit Chicago 2016: The Highs and the Lows

In the days leading up to the historic 2016 election, six hundred conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party members and undecided voters gathered in Chicago at AM560’s Freedom Summit to discuss this year’s candidates and prepare for the road ahead. ARI was among the sponsors and participants.

ARI’s partnership with AM560, one of the most popular radio talk stations in Chicago, has been a successful one with Yaron Brook, ARI executive chairman, hosting The Yaron Brook Show every Saturday at 4 p.m. central time. The show explores news, culture and politics from the Objectivist point of view. The station also broadcasts 90-second spots during drive time, called “Moments of Objectivism,” to expose its millions of listeners to Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

Steve Simpson, ARI’s director of Legal Studies, and Brook were featured presenters at Freedom Summit, speaking on free speech and economic inequality, respectively. Both addressed a full house as they discussed the issues from Ayn Rand’s philosophical perspective. Many of those in attendance are avid listeners of The Yaron Brook Show and fans of Ayn Rand who were excited to learn that Brook would broadcast his show, live, later in the day.

Simpson’s defense of free speech was well received, as was Brook’s critique of the campaign against economic inequality. Things took a turn, however, when Brook raised criticism of Donald Trump for his position on immigration. Applause turned to boos and hostility. “I was disappointed to see that so many people were unwilling to engage with new ideas,” Brook says.

The average age of those attending Freedom Summit was fifty and above. The experience underscores ARI’s need to focus its outreach on young people — those open to new ideas and willing to explore them. It highlights the value of the work ARI is doing with students on college campuses and with organizations like STRIVE (STudents for Reason, Individualism, Value pursuit, and Enterprise).

To learn more about ARI’s student outreach efforts and what you can do to help, contact Jeff Scialabba, ARI college programs manager, at