Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News and a leading authority on American third-party politics, has posted on Amazon.com a review of Conscience of a Libertarian, the new book by 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee Wayne Root. He gives Root’s book 4 stars out of 5 and writes:
I have read the entire book, but I have not discussed it with anyone else who has read it. It seems to me that Root’s major purpose with this book is to persuade conservatives to become libertarians in their thinking. This is not a book that seems to have the major purpose of persuading Libertarians to nominate Root for president.
Root’s technique for moving conservatives to more libertarian thinking seems to be to show at the beginning that he has been a conservative himself, and that he still appreciates the values that conservatives value. So, as one reads through the book, Root seems to evolve. For example, page 24 seems to indicate he is only opposed to drug prohibition when the federal government does it. If someone stops reading there, that is the impression one will have of Root’s thinking. But, on pages 79-81, the book makes a strong case against any government (state or local as well as federal) from blocking medical marijuana. Then, on pages 225-226, he makes a stronger, more emotional case against drug laws. Then, on pages 260-263, he talks about the horrible way in which Steve Kubby was persecuted.
Root’s education policy also seems to change as one reads further into the book. Pages 164-167 seems to endorse the idea that state and local government should handle education. But, when one reads further, there is a big shift. Page 207 says, “As long as most of our children are educated in government-run public schools, the government bureaucrats running them will instill the idea into the heads of their captive audience (our children) that more govenment is better.”
In order for a book to persuade, the reader must be open to persuasion. Root’s technique probably works better than most books do to persuade conservatives toward libertarianism. I have re-reviewed all the campaign books published by Libertarian presidential nominees (all LP presidential nominees wrote a campaign book, either before or after they were nominated, except for Andre Marrou). I believe that this is the best book for persuading conservatives toward libertarianism, of any of those books. There are times when I was angry at Root’s book, but those moments came less and less frequently as I kept reading. It is not fair to the book to put it down without reading all of it. And, it is never boring. I spotted a few factual errors but no non-fiction book of this length is ever perfectly accurate.
Meanwhile, a source reports that LP founder David Nolan has issued a call for “REAL libertarians” to “post some reviews pointing out that Root’s version of libertarianism is pretty lame, and that he does not speak for all libertarians. Or any, for that matter.” Nolan’s message admitted that he hadn’t read the book, and the same may be true of the author of the first 1-star review that subsequently appeared on Amazon. That reviewer wrote: “What readers never learn is just what libertarianism actually *is*. That’s because Mr. Root himself cannot tell them — he doesn’t know.” However, on page 69 Root’s book says:
I believe the proper definition of “Libertarian” is “fiscally conservative, socially tolerant, pro freedom, pro constitution, standing for more rights for the individual, and reducing the size, scope, and power of the government”.