Steve Kubby Reviews Wayne Root’s ‘The Conscience of a Libertarian’

Review: The Conscience of a Libertarian
by Steve Kubby

The Libertarian Party has always struck me as analogous to the infamous Mos Eisley bar featured in Star Wars. That’s because Libertarianism is an oasis of liberty, attracting a wide range of life forms, ranging from old hippies to suits to gays and, of course, recovering Republicans. Under the banner of Libertarianism, a menagerie of creatures crowd together periodically, to slake their thirst for freedom. As a result, getting Libertarians to agree on anything has been described as akin to herding cats.

Getting Libertarians to agree about Wayne Root’s new book, “The Conscience of a Libertarian,” seems just as problematic.

I have a friend who is a member of a hugely popular rock group. Although he is incredibly successful, he is considered a second rate musician by his peers, something he constantly frets about. Similarly, if you talk to astronomers, you’ll find that they are not impressed with Carl Sagan and take an even dimmer view of Stephen Hawking. Such is the fate of “Best Selling” vs. “Best.”

Wayne Root’s new book may not be the “Best” book on Libertarianism, but it’s our best shot at reaching the public with a libertarian message at the moment. Still, there are many who question whether or not it’s Libertarianism that’s being promoted.

Root’s book has infuriated many Libertarians and raised a howl of protest from those who are convinced that Root is really a Conservative Republican who may be strong on economic issues, but is weak on social issues and confused about everything else. Hundreds of anti-Root emails have landed on my desk and my Facebook friends have expressed only negative opinions about the new book.

However, even Root’s opponents have to admit that he’s working hard to mainstream and popularize Libertarianism, even if they think he goes off the ideological reservation at times.

Personally, I am pleased that Root devoted his longest chapter to address the issue of civil liberties. In that same chapter, Root also presents a well informed and enlightened view of medical marijuana. A lot of conservative Republicans are going to read about these key Libertarian issues, from a perspective they can understand, and we will have made serious advances with folks we would normally never reach. Still, there are those who will ask if this actually Libertarianism that Root is preaching.

Let’s take a moment here to do a reality check. Right now, the Libertarian “brand” is an embarrassment. Most of the conservative Republicans I know would probably agree with Ann Coulter’s description of Libertarians as “nerdy types still sleeping on Star Wars sheets and living in their mothers´ basements.”

Having Wayne Root promoting his book and his brand of Libertarianism may not satisfy hardcore Libertarians, but it could end up being a life raft for a political party that seems lost in space and about to disappear beneath the event horizon.

Back on the planet Tatooine, the debates about Wayne Root and his book will continue. On Earth, however, those who read The Conscience of a Libertarian, will get that government really is the problem and it really is time to act. If Root’s book does nothing more than wake up a mainstream audience to the dangers of big government, then that’s a valuable contribution to the cause of liberty.

69 thoughts on “Steve Kubby Reviews Wayne Root’s ‘The Conscience of a Libertarian’

  1. Robert Milnes

    Steve Kubby, I, for one, have never seen any of the Star Wars movies in their entirety. Some here & there as almost inevitible. Because I conciously avoided it, realizing it is just so much more space junk to be avoided. I feel sorry for Tom k., reading this. FYI,You are on Holtz’s list & deservedly so. Go ahead & read Root’s space taking up junk. I’m trying to get the Lp on board the Progressive Libertarian Alliance. You should be too.

  2. Michael H. Wilson

    Biggest problem in the LP is the failure to have adequate literature defining libertarian ideas which is one reason we get other defining it as they see it. The LP has left the door open for others to guess what the ideas are since they don’t know.

  3. Steven R Linnabary

    Biggest problem in the LP is the failure to have adequate literature defining libertarian ideas which is one reason we get other defining it as they see it. The LP has left the door open for others to guess what the ideas are since they don’t know.

    On the contrary, the LP has quite a bit of literature available. We have dozens of books come out annually.

    The LP also has a lot of leaflets available on nearly any subject. And if you don’t like what is available, you can always create your own.

    The problem as I see it, is that most people don’t read. They watch TV and listen to the radio for intellectual fulfillment. And the LP is largely absent from broadcast media.

    Root is doing quite a job of reaching out to these voters, though IMHO, he is confusing the voters with his “libertarian-conservative” schtick.

    PEACE

  4. George Phillies

    For a contrary review of the Root book, including a free plug for http://antiwar.com , read http://GoldAmericaGroup.com and http://LibertyforAll.com. In short

    ” There is no Libertarian Here

    The Conscience of a Libertarian by Wayne Root
    …a book review by George Phillies

    Mr. Root has published a 368 page campaign book, which in the reviewer’s opinion should substantially eliminate any suspicion that Root is an acceptable Presidential candidate for our party. It should also substantially eliminate any suspicion that he is a libertarian rather than – as he entirely honestly says on a regular basis – a conservative of a particular sort. Not a bad sort….if you want a conservative President, Wayne would be a lot better than most of the other conservatives out there. ”

    Having said that, Mr. Root’s most serious fault is that he handed to 2008 Presidential nomination over to Bob Barr and Bob Barr’s sham-paign, which spent huge amounts — by Libertarian standards — of money on staff, consultants, authoring fees — and far far less on doing politics.

    This is a shared fault. The man who recruited Barr as a candidate, and under whose CEOship the front pages of LP News were deployed to campaign for Barr, was National Chair Bill Redpath, the man who unlike Angela Keaton and Lee Wrights does deserve to be suspended from the LNC.

  5. paulie Post author

    As for Ann Coulter, as I said before, I could be talked into giving her a mercy fuck.

    I could too, but only in a port-a-potty at the tail end of a weeklong festival where there aren’t enough port-a-pottys and they never get cleaned.

    And if it turns out that she really does have a dick and balls as rumors contend, I probably wouldn’t be able to successfully complete the act.

  6. paulie Post author

    MHW: Biggest problem in the LP is the failure to have adequate literature defining libertarian ideas which is one reason we get other defining it as they see it. The LP has left the door open for others to guess what the ideas are since they don’t know.

    SL: On the contrary, the LP has quite a bit of literature available. We have dozens of books come out annually.

    P: I think the leaflets and brochures was more what was meant here.

    SL: The LP also has a lot of leaflets available on nearly any subject.

    P: If they exist “on any subject,” they sure aren’t being publicized.

    SL: And if you don’t like what is available, you can always create your own.

    P: Well, yes, you could, but how high-quality would it be? There are people who know a lot more than me about specific subjects, or write more succinctly and/or persuasively, or are much better with graphics and layout. Maybe they have more money for decent-looking copies. If you have a group of people, such as a party, you have the advantage of bringing several of those people together to create something much better than what I could create on my own, and they may even think of addressing topics that would never even occur to me. Is any of that being done? To what extent, when and where?

    SL: The problem as I see it, is that most people don’t read. They watch TV and listen to the radio for intellectual fulfillment. And the LP is largely absent from broadcast media.

    P: Youtube, the web, and similar tools are increasingly popular alternatives. The wider libertarian movement is benefiting from this. The LP has some catching up to do.

    SL: Root is doing quite a job of reaching out to these voters, though IMHO, he is confusing the voters with his “libertarian-conservative” schtick.

    P: Yes. But I think Steve Kubby makes a good point in saying that this may be opening a lot of minds that would otherwise be closed, so it may end up being a good thing after all.

    Then again, it may repulse other minds that would otherwise be open, so I do hope that Knapp, Hancock or someone else will come up with a different, better angle and succeed at promoting it at least as much as Root has.

  7. Steven R Linnabary

    SL: The LP also has a lot of leaflets available on nearly any subject.

    P: If they exist “on any subject,” they sure aren’t being publicized.

    Perhaps I should have said there are plenty of “libertarian” leaflets and brochures available. I know I use leaflets from ISIL, which I find to be quite good and affordable. Though admittedly the “Health Care” leaflet is rather dated, referring to “HillaryCare”!

    There are other options. FIJA, Advocates, Cato all produce leaflets and brochures that are libertarian in nature and good for handouts.

    But I also realize that looking to LPHQ for anything from leaflets to leadership will be greatly disappointed.

    PEACE

  8. paulie Post author

    I know I use leaflets from ISIL, which I find to be quite good and affordable. Though admittedly the “Health Care” leaflet is rather dated, referring to “HillaryCare”!

    There are other options. FIJA, Advocates, Cato all produce leaflets and brochures that are libertarian in nature and good for handouts.

    Most of them are either obviously dated, over the top of most people’s heads, not sufficiently graphical and attention-grabbing, or some combination of those.

    Many may be good at identifying problems, but propose no concrete actions that individuals are being asked to take towards making overcoming them possible.

    And I seriously doubt that all of them put together cover “nearly any subject”.

  9. George Phillies

    Paulie:

    Got me! You are right. LibertyForAll.net not dot com.

    You are welcome to reprint, though I believe you will get more attention to it if you space it until tomorrow morning so the comment thread here fades before the new thread opens.

    George

  10. George Phillies

    I believe the LP quit selling leaflets even on a nonexclusive basis. They could only sell to state parties that are FEC-reporting and pay with Federal funds. They could sell to people but only up to the dollar limit on donations.

  11. Erik Geib

    The New Horizons pamphlet we have in the office is pretty badass. I have no idea why people don’t give it more credit (aside from not knowing of it).

  12. NO that is incorrect

    Wayne didn’t give Barr the nomination. It is the delegate who were dumb enough to nominate Barr over Root.

  13. Michael H. Wilson

    Steve I am well aware of the ISIL brochures. I have ordered from them in the past. And have the FIJA ones from the booth I worked a couple of weeks ago.

    What the LP doesn’t have is anything recently designed by the LP. We certainly used to have more than we presently have.

    I can and have designed my own, but it is important that the people in Florida have the same answers as the people in Montana.

    I have heard some Libertarian say we should legalize drugs and others say we should decriminalize them. That should not happen. We should be clear on this and a number of other issues.

  14. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 15 george writes: “I believe the LP quit selling leaflets even on a nonexclusive basis. They could only sell to state parties that are FEC-reporting and pay with Federal funds. They could sell to people but only up to the dollar limit on donations.”

    George I think that according to the FEC rules the LP could design a brochure and place it on the website to be downloaded and then printed by the members as needed. No money changes hands.

    I have not read the FEC regs in a couple of years, but as I recall that was permissable.

  15. Solomon Drek

    It’s too bad to see LP leaders drop their pants and bend over for another celebrity conservative like they did for Bob Barr. Between now and 2012 we’ll be hearing the same excuses for Root that they made for Barr.

    Here are my top ten reasons LP leaders will embrace Wayne Root:

    10. Root appears on “Dancing With The Stars” with his partner Cynthia McKinney.

    9. Root enters and wins the World Series of Poker on ESPN.

    8. Root does a campaign appearance with NJ GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie and defends Christie for driving a car without registration or insurance.

    7. Root defends Rabbis arrested in New Jersey for selling donor organs to the highest bidder.

    6. Root does Mary Ruwart one better and bankrolls a kiddieporn flick entitled “Debbie does pre-school”.

    5. Root compares himself to Newt Gingrich and offers Libertarians a “Contract On America” which includes unbridled capitalism and a free market for Cuban cigars.

    4. Root promises if he’s elected his first act will be to pardon Bernie Madoff.

    3. Root has his own show on FOX NEWS with his co-host “Vince”, the guy who does the “Sham-Wow” commercials.

    2. Root lets himself be interviewed (like Bob Barr and Alan Keyes) by Sacha Baron Cohen for the next “Borat” movie.

    1. And, finally, the number one reason Wayne Root is embraced by LP leaders and nominated for President; he has a sex change operation and changes name to Wayn Rand.

  16. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 9 paulie writes; “P: Well, yes, you could, but how high-quality would it be? There are people who know a lot more than me about specific subjects, or write more succinctly and/or persuasively, or are much better with graphics and layout. Maybe they have more money for decent-looking copies. If you have a group of people, such as a party, you have the advantage of bringing several of those people together to create something much better than what I could create on my own, and they may even think of addressing topics that would never even occur to me. Is any of that being done? To what extent, when and where?”

    All excellent points. I do have four or five brochures that I have started, but I wouldn’t hand them out as representing a Libertarian view.

    I also believe that we should be using an open source method of producing materials; i.e. brochures, position papers, etc.

  17. George Phillies

    @20

    You are absolutely correct about giving away printing masters.

    At the moment, they are treating the hi-res logo as proprietary, so far as I could tell at the LNC meeting, though “established 1972” possibly ranks at the all-time bottom as the party slogan.

  18. Aaron Starr

    I’m thankful to Steve Kubby for his uplifting review of Wayne Root’s Conscience of a Libertarian.

    Steve Kubby has a constructive approach, seeing the glass as being 80% full, rather than 20% empty. He looks for reasons to agree with fellow travelers, rather than disagree, serving as a role model of civility and tolerance.

    In recent weeks, I’ve noticed more Libertarians adopting this approach of being more accepting of Wayne Root as a beneficial force toward liberty and I applaud those who are bringing to the table this more positive attitude.

  19. Robert Milnes

    Bill Wood sockpuppet @18, I “refuse” to buy or get a copy of W.A.R.’s book. You see, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Which I am trying to cope with. So I already have a lot of things around that I don’t really need or want.

  20. Robert Milnes

    Come on Tom. that doesn’t qualify as a comment. You know what that reminds me of? In my sister’s high school yearbook, her chemistry teacher stamped his name when asked to sign. Come on.

  21. John C

    I rarely ( if ever) encounter conservative Republicans who call libertarians basement dwelling Star Wars nerds.

    However, I frequently encounter liberals and independents who think Libertarians are conservatives who support big business and the policies of George W. Bush ( “Hey Bush was practically a libertarian and look how all that free market stuff destroyed everything.”). While WE know better, many do not. It probably doesn’t help when the first LP POTUS candidate and others actually endorsed GWB for the 2ND FUCKING TERM. WTF?

    My point is, in my actual encounters with breathing humans ( mostly young folks) our image problem is an appearance of associating too closely with disgruntled ( or mainstream) conservatives. I dont see the point in recruiting the right. Many of them probably see us a “anti-American liberals” or some such bullshit. I’m not saying we are going to recruit a huge bloc of the left no matter how hard we try, but I’d rather be seen as radical libertarians ( which shouldnt hurt us with Republicans who already think that anyway) than some subset of conservatism.

  22. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    Be that as it may, a “sockpuppet” is a fake name/account from which one posts congratulatory matter on ones’ work as if it were from someone else, or attacks one’s attackers as if it were someone else defending you.

    Aaron Starr is a real person. I’ve met him. He’s posting here under his own name, and the content of those posts leads me to believe it’s the real Aaron Starr, not someone pretending to be him.

    If he was calling himself Rooster Cogburn and writing stuff like “isn’t Aaron Starr just dreamy? I think he’s the best thing since they started putting potato chips in bags!” then “sockpuppet” would be an appropriate description.

    As far as commenting on Steve’s opinion, I think he and I have both been reasonably clear that there’s not some kind of weird cable attaching our brains. We each do our own thinking, and there’s no reason to assume that our opinions will always be the same.

    I do not yet have a fully informed opinion of my own on Wayne’s book because I haven’t read the whole thing, but rather only extensive excerpts. If anyone’s desperate for a full review from me, I’ll oblige … when I get around to it. If I have to cough up for the thing myself, I’ll probably get around to it later rather than sooner.

  23. John C

    If a guy hate taxes and opposes the welfare state ( which is very rare among Republicans and conservatives anyway) but thinks Steve Kubby should die rather than receive medical treatment ( or be killed as punishment for receiving medical treatment), Richard Paey should be locked up for taking medicine, that it’s OK to murder 92 year old ladies and then plant drugs, murder guys for betting on football or giving a ride to someone who may be suspected of associating with drugs, police should be given special awards for killing family pets, and all that other bullshit- Well, I don’t think there is much I could say to that guy. He seems to lack any human decency.

    But if another guy, Guy B, agrees that all that shit is fucked up BUT he’s economically ignorant and disagrees with cutting certain social programs and wants a marginal tax rate slightly higher than guy A, well I think there is more potential for persuasion by showing free market ways to meet certain goals and/or working around things.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “Tom, it would take a pretty good bank shot or combination to put Root in the pocket without hitting your guy, Kubby”

    Not really.

    First of all, an honest difference of opinion doesn’t necessarily imply a conflict. I can prefer raspberry swirl cream and Steve Kubby can prefer pistachio all day long, and it won’t be an issue unless for some reason we get into a situation where we both have to eat the same kind of ice cream.

    Secondly, even a conflicting set of opinions is only a big deal if the subject of those opinions is a big deal.

    So far, I’m seeing no signs that Wayne’s book is a particularly big deal. Two months out of the gate it’s not performing in the same league, let alone the same ballpark, as either current or much older offerings that are either indisputably libertarian or currently sold as such and in the same vein as Root’s work.

    Here are some of today’s Amazon sales ranks for comparison:

    Common Sense (Glenn Beck): 8th

    End the Fed (Ron Paul): 44th

    The Road to Serfdom (FA Hayek): 622nd

    Capitalism and Freedom (Milton Friedman): 723rd

    Common Sense, The Rights of Man and Other Essential Writings (Thomas Paine): 176th

    Economics in One Lesson (Henry Hazlitt): 1,083rd

    Free to Choose (Milton Friedman): 2,700th

    The Revolution: A Manifesto (Ron Paul): 2,929th

    Constitution of Liberty (FA Hayek): 16,602nd

    Conscience of a Libertarian (Wayne Allyn Root): 18,335th

    Of all the above, Beck’s offering is probably the closest in substance to Root’s, and relatively close to it in publication timeframe (it came out a month before Root’s book). Beck’s book is in the top ten. Root’s book isn’t even in the top ten thousand.

    Some of the titles above have been in print for 40, 50, even 60 years … and they’re stilling selling a case or more for every single copy of Root’s book sold.

    That doesn’t mean his book doesn’t deserve to be engaged, especially within the narrow confines of the LP. But it’s hardly of earth-shattering importance.

  25. paulie Post author

    John @ 42, since many people don’t follow links, here’s what I said.

    KIMBERLY: One of my friends who critiques the Libertarians a lot, says that the first interest of Libertarians is to protect private property.

    ME: It depends on the Libertarian.

    Here’s how this Libertarian sees it.

    I see regime intervention in the economy as being akin to robbery and in some cases kidnapping.

    I see civil liberties violations by the regime as being akin to systematic gang rape.

    And I see the regime’s wars and imperialism as mass murder.

    The legal system, and I think most people, would say that it is worse to be raped than robbed, and worse to be murdered than raped – not that anyone wants to have any of those things done to them.

    Thus, I see pro-war, pro-imperialist policies as being worse than socially coercive policies, which are in turn worse than economically coercive policies, generally speaking.

  26. paulie Post author

    Be that as it may, a “sockpuppet” is a fake name/account from which one posts congratulatory matter on ones’ work as if it were from someone else, or attacks one’s attackers as if it were someone else defending you.

    There’s more than one meaning of sockpuppet.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sock+puppet

    Knapp is referring to hacker terminology here. There’s also the more traditional use of “sock puppet,” which I think is what Milnes is using: one who acts as if they had someone’s hand up their ass moving their mouth. In the internet terminology Knapp is using, that is actually referred to as a meat puppet,

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meat%20puppet

    Not to be confused with the Meat Puppets, a band:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meat_Puppets

  27. Jeremy Young

    Interesting. Thanks for introducing me to the proper definition of the term “meat puppet.” I apparently owe some anonymous blogger on Daily Kos an apology for an exchange we had over three years ago. The blogger was referring to Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, as a “meat puppet.” Since I had never heard the term before, and since Duckworth is a two-limbed Iraq War veteran, I kind of went ballistic. Apparently the other blogger was right and I was wrong. He was calling Duckworth a dittohead (which she was), not making a derogatory comment about her physical abilities.

  28. paulie Post author

    Here is “sock puppet” being used in the sense I think Milnes intended, from urbandictionary…

    4. sock puppet 46 up, 55 down love it hate it

    (verb)(political)
    Used to describe a person who has no original thoughts, opinions, or ideas of his/her own. Instead they regurgitate the “party-line” or talking points of others; usually of their particular political party.

    Sock puppets can be seen on FauxNews and on Talk Radio. The GOP will put out its talking points and you can pick out the sock puppets because they will repeat the talking points; usually words for word.

    Sock puppets can be seen among the Democrats and Left as well typically among young liberals who have adopted liberal bias without actually thinking. These specimens exist but are far more uncommon than amoung the Republicans, conservatives, christians and other right-wingers. Whose sock puppets cover the entire spectrum, as right-wingers are more likely to accept things on faith alone. Because if their leaders say its true, then it has to be true.
    1. Get a clue! You’re Dubya’s sock puppet.
    2. Limbaugh is the GOP’s sock puppet.
    3. Look you sock puppet if I wanted to hear from you I’d turn on FauxNews.

    4.
    Sock Puppet: “it’s Clintons fault.”
    Real Person: “Man you are a sock puppet.”

  29. Pingback: George Phillies reviews Wayne Root’s ‘Conscience of a Libertarian’ | Independent Political Report

  30. Tom Blanton

    If Root’s book causes Republicans to take libertarians more seriously, that’s nice. But when is someone from the GOP going to write a book that will cause libertarians to take Republicans seriously?

    The only way a Republican will ever support an LP candidate is if a GOP candidate gets caught having sex with the corpse of a pre-teen boy one day before election day – and we all know that GOP candidates are extremely careful about not getting caught.

  31. Who's Thumbing Who?

    “But when is someone from the GOP going to write a book that will cause libertarians to take Republicans seriously?”

    Ron Paul has a few of those.

  32. Jim Davidson

    @21 A free market for Cuban cigars sounds great.

    @2 Milnes is not a libertarian.

    Coulter continues to impress as a callous jerk who can’t understand that some people suffer from poverty.

    @7 I’m not sure how you can argue that Root’s views on medical marijuana aren’t libertarian, George. Kubby is a reasonably good touchstone on that issue.

    The fact that Root’s views on many issues are not libertarian seems to be agreed by both Kubby and Phillies. I’d say that the glass is half full, but instead of ice cubes I’m getting shards of glass. lol

  33. Pingback: Eric Sundwall: Chapter by Chapter review of Wayne Root’s ‘Conscience of a Libertarian’ | Independent Political Report

  34. George Phillies

    @61

    “Let the voters decide” as opposed to “make it legal”? No, “Let the voters decide” is not libertarian on pot, any more than it is Libertarian on guns.

  35. Pingback: Tom Knapp: ‘Consciences of the Critics’ | Independent Political Report

  36. Brian Holtz

    Anyone can order (or re-use but not for profit) the Libertarian poster, campaign card, and bumper sticker designs I make available at http://www.zazzle.com/ThinkFreely. Here is a slideshow of the bumper stickers:

    And if you can convince me that you’ll distribute them, I’ll send you a batch of these rack cards:
    http://marketliberal.org/PoliticalIQ.pdf. There’s room in the design for your candidate or affiliate contact info to be printed.

    Note that the LP has outsourced its collateral distribution to lpstuff.com, which sells pamphlets on taxes, welfare, guns, and drugs. It also sells the nice 24-page New Vision For America brochure, and the 2006 Political Puzzle brochure.

  37. Pingback: Mike Renzulli reviews Wayne Root’s Conscience of a Libertarian | Independent Political Report

  38. Spence

    Root is a tool. Kubby was being generous.

    The LP had a chance with Kubby and Phillies. But no, you tools hate libertarian centrists, you’d prefer flat out “moderate” LINOism or hardcore radical poofertarianism that denies the secret to electoral victory is to actually play politics.

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