Mike Renzulli reviews Wayne Root’s Conscience of a Libertarian

Posted at Free Libertarian by Mike Renzulli.

Other reviews include Judge Andrew Napolitano, Tom Knapp (fuller review forthcoming), CLS, John Hospers, Steve Kubby, Peter Orvetti, George Phillies, Eric Sundwall, and Richard Winger.



I was at a bookstore the other day and came across a copy of Wayne Allyn Root’s book

The Conscience of a Libertarian. I decided to give it a look.

I only reviewed the last half of his book which discusses Root’s proposals and must admit to some preconcieved notions about him due to Wayne Root’s L.P. Veep campaign

, or lack thereof. I was impressed with the manner in which Mr. Root conducted himself in terms of public speaking during the 2008 Libertarian Party National Convention.

Without having met him personally, Root is a dynamic, articulate speaker and carries himself well in public. However, his logic and approach with regards to libertarianism needs serious work.

For example, on page 164 of his book, Root makes a state’s rights argument for education. He states there should be school choice initiatives in addition to government schools.

Root, rightly, goes on to blame the school system, teachers unions and education bureaucracies for education’s diminished quality on page 280 but, overall, stops short of supporting school-state seperation.

This despite stating on page 276 that he and his wife homeschooled their kids.

On page 170, Root supports prohibiting states from levying income taxes, but originally states he supports a tax on each state in proportion to its population with each state deciding how to raise revenue.

Yet on page 240, as part of his Economic Stiumlus plan, he supports a national flat-rate income tax. Fifteen percent on a persson whose income is less than $500,000 a year and ten percent on a person who earns and income of $500,000 or more a year.

On Page 180, Root would support eliminating capital gains, interest and dividend taxes on U.S. citizens 55 and older.

He does, however, state on page 240 that he would phase out capital gains taxes in 5 years. But stops short of repealing all 3 taxes in their entirety.

He later expresses support of alternate voting systems, national referendums and would eliminate corporate welfare, government financed bailouts and earmarks. Unfortunately, under Root administration, rather than being eliminated, foreign aid would be decreased.

Two other major points of contention is his stance on the drug war and immigration. On page 222 he states he would end illegal immigration but would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. as long as they buy a $250,000 home.

In the same chapter, Root states he would reposition the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes while states would set their own policies with regards to drugs.

The problem with the state’s rights policies on issues, such drugs or guns, is that each American would have to worry about a patchwork of states who would or would not criminalize the usage or posession of said substances or firearms.

Root may also want to re-think what economic model he would use should be be elected to the Oval Office. On page 226 he states he would institute the Nevada economic model. However, a recent study done this year rates Nevada as one of the worst states for business

.

When making a statement like this, one has to ask if Root would include Nevada’s state and local regulatory commissions and boards in his design.

Unfortunately, if Mr. Root’s work is any guide, his approach is more along the lines of what a Republican would stand for and I get the impression that he wants the Libertarian Party and movement to be a hybrid of or welded in some manner to the conservative movement.

The LP and libertarian movement have never been a part of the conservative movement. Neither is libertarianism, which is the core philosophy of the L.P., a conservative philosophy. While, admittedly, the conservative movement is where the vast majority of our influence is held, that is only in terms of convenience and not out of any love of or alliance with conservatives or what they stand for.

What also concerns me about Root is what was reported

about him by The New York Times in 2007 in which a reporter did an article discussing the culture of professional gamblers in Las Vegas.

In it, after being asked by the reporter is he felt guilty about making his money exclusively by gambling, Root states:

Guilt? I don’t have any guilt. I think zero about why things are. I just accept what they are and find a way to take advantage of them.

With a statement like this, one wonders if Root is really looking to take advantange of the Libertarian Party. The last thing the party needs is a candidate that gets the Presidential nomination for self-promotion.

I also have ethical concerns about Wayne Root too. According to Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

, when Wayne Root ran for President in 2008, he sent a hatchet man and former LP employee whose debts to the party were eventually written off to the Michigan LP convention. Root’s operative openly lied by accusing Dr. Mary Ruwart of approving of pedophilia.

To this day, I do not believe Mr. Root has apologized to Dr. Ruwart for what his campaign operative did.

I am open to the idea that Wayne Allyn Root can change down the line since there is alot of time between now and the 2012 Presidential convention. However, if Root’s book, contradictory statements in it and the above 2007 New York Times article are any indication, people would be a means to his end when it comes to him being President.

In general and as a Libertarian, Mr. Root should understand that an individual’s rights (not just a taxpayer) must be respected at all times. Like reality itself, rights are an absolute not to be violated. The proper function of government is to protect an individual’s right to life, liberty and property so that they may pursue their own happiness.

The problem with party pragmatists (which Root may count himself as one) is that they believe they attribute the Libertarian Party’s lack of electoral success as a result of the principles and positions it espouses.

Pragmatists believe that libertarians being open about their positions and principles scare voters off and, instead, prefer to water-down or attempt to mainstream libertarian ideas while downplaying our standing up for individual rights.

In the pragmatist’s minds, it is only through politics and elections that liberty can be restored in America. They see the Libertarian Party as the vehicle and their cause as being the knight in shining armor that will allow the dream of a free society they, and other libertarians envision, to be realized.

It is exactly the opposite. Liberty or a free society will come only when the populace realizes what freedom is and the political class will soon follow suit. Freedom will not be restored by a political solution since politics is a reflection of the populace at large. Not the other way around.

What we live in are irrational times with a populace that does not or will not think for itself. Most Americans rely on others (such as so-called academics, clergy and politicians) to lead them and point out how to live an ethical, moral life.

Unfortunately, due to the guilt-laden altruism that permeates American culture, when a Libertarian candidate or activist espouses things contrary to what is considered acceptable by the populace (such as decriminalizing drugs, prostitution, open immigration or gun rights) they write them off as being crazy, quacks or kooks.

Since the philosophy (known as liberalism at the time) was officially crafted as a reaction to the mercantilism and tyrannical, centralized monarchism being practiced in Europe, it is wrong for libertarians (both big and small “L”) to downplay who we are and what we stand for in order to be acceptable or attempt to be mainstream.

The conscience or core of libertarianism is not pragmatism or compromise. It is radicalism. Like the libertarians of years past, we are about liberty consistently and uncompromisingly. It is our acts of liberty that are our strongest propaganda and will resonate with and win over the culture at large down the line.

Americans are libertarian by their nature and, like Sam Adams said, all it takes is a small, tiny, determined radical minority to set fire in people’s minds.

27 thoughts on “Mike Renzulli reviews Wayne Root’s Conscience of a Libertarian

  1. Brian Holtz

    I’m a smallarchist who says the same things to public audiences during campaign debates as I say to the libertarian choir on forums like this. By contrast, I can think of several prominent LP anarchists whose recent campaigns gave no hint of their anarchism.

    13% to 20% of Americans want both more economic liberty and more personal liberty. The LP should unite voters who want more personal and economic liberty behind the electoral choices that will most move public policy in a libertarian direction.

  2. Jeremy Young

    Root should not be criticized for his role as VP in the 2008 campaign. He followed the directives of his candidate, which were to pursue low-impact media opportunities and otherwise stay out of the way. He followed these directives and made the best of what was clearly a very bad situation.

    On the other hand, he should not be allowed to claim that the campaign gave him valuable experience in running a national campaign (something he is, in fact, claiming). It gave him valuable experience in staying out of the way while someone else ran a piss-poor national campaign.

  3. The comments that this guy is saying is incorrectly stated.

    Picking out parts of the book and then runing with it making it seems like it is something bad is what the enquire does. Only stupid people with believe the above posting without talking to Wayne himself and not reading the whole book as what it truly says and in which the manner it was done.

  4. Mik Robertson

    @1 “On the other hand, he should not be allowed to claim that the campaign gave him valuable experience in running a national campaign (something he is, in fact, claiming). It gave him valuable experience in staying out of the way while someone else ran a piss-poor national campaign.”

    This may be true, but even that is gaining valuable experience about a national campaign. Often you can learn much more from watching how things *shouldn’t* be done.

  5. Eric Dondero

    The reviewer makes the mistake of confusing “conservative,” with “Republican.”

    The Republican Party consists of three wings:

    Moderate, Conservative and Libertarian.

    The “Conservative Movement,” consists of many different flavors of Conservatism; but only one Belief – Conservatism.

    Obviously, Libertarians are not part of the Conservative movement. (Though, we are philosophical cousins.) But we are most certainly part of the Republican Party.

  6. George Phillies

    @4

    When you write a book, you are on the record and fastened to your words. That does not mean you cannot change your mind, but you certainly do not need to listen to the author trying to spin away the non-libertarian hot air that he has written.

  7. Jeremy Young

    I’d amend Eric’s comment to say that the “conservative” part of the Republican Party is itself composed of two parts: traditionalist and fundamentalist.

  8. Eric Dondero

    One wonders just what part of “Libertarians are prt of the Republican Party,” Mr. Key finds so laughable. Let’s take a look, shall we?

    1. 8 out of 9 of Libertarian Party presidential candidates of all-time, starting in 1972 were/are Republicans.

    2. 11 out of 11 of all Libertarian state legislators elected in Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont and Michigan caucused with the GOP once in office.

    3. The Founder of the Libertarian Party back in 1971, was at the time, State Chairman of the Colorado Young Republicans.

    What’s that “BWAHAHAHAHAH!” again?

  9. Eric Dondero

    ADDENDUM:

    Practically every single Libertarian Party member who has left the Party to return to a major party, has switched to the GOP. This includes hundreds of past and present elected Libertarians serving in public office.

  10. Nicolas

    Root is similar to most of the LP members I encounter. They read little, can’t construct principled arguments, and desperately avoid issues which might alienate voters they imagine might select LP candidates. As a purveyor of libertarian ideas, the party does more harm than good.

  11. Ayn R. Key

    So, which Republican Party are libertarians part of? The Nixon party of wage and price controls that caused the founders of the party to quit the Republican Party in DISGUST, or the Bush party of Drug Coverage for Seniors, No Child Left Behind, and anti-libertarian Wars of Aggression?

  12. Ayn R. Key

    Oh, and let us not forget the Republican Party of the USAPATRIOT Act, an act that disgusts every single libertarian that lives (and probably a few that no longer live). Confused neocon who thinks he’s a libertarian Dondro thinks (for lack of a better word) that supporting the USAPATRIOT Act is a pro-liberty position.

  13. Ayn R. Key

    Oh, and let us not forget the Republican Party of the USAPATRIOT Act. Confused neoconservative who thinks he’s a libertarian Dondero thinks (for lack of a better word) that support of the USAPATRIOT Act is the pro-liberty position.

  14. libertariangirl

    well the he must like Obama since he just signed an order extending it.

    here comes the new boss…

  15. Ayn R. Key

    Darn it, this blog won’t let me include any URLs in my comments, so I can’t show you why Dondero really doesn’t like Obama – he thinks Obama is pro-life.

  16. George Phillies

    @11

    Apparently non-libertarian conservatives are not quite as bright as non-libertarian liberals, in that the latter figure out we are not a liberal party, and do not join, while the former only notice we are not conservatives after they have been LP members for a while.

    @article

    Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a flat rate-tax with multiple rates.

  17. Michael Seebeck

    Someone needs to tell Dondero that the three big parts of the GOP are the bible-thumping theocrats, the American zaibatsu plutocrats, and the chickenhawk neocons.

    Oh, wait, I just did…

  18. Ayn R. Key

    Good point George. It appears that more liberals know what libertarians believe than do conservatives. That explains why some drift here for a while, get disgusted that we don’t support morality at the point of a gun (and don’t support anything at the point of a gun) and then drift back.

  19. Pingback: Wayne Root Praises Nevada For Economic Freedom | Independent Political Report

  20. paulie Post author

    #6

    You forgot fascists, a big part of the Republican Party.

    Many of us Libertarians are in no way a part of the Republican Party, which is why we have our own.

    Also, our philosophy is closer to liberal, which is why liberal and libertarian sound alike, and Bastiat sat on the left.

  21. Pingback: Wayne Root’s Book Climbing In Amazon Sales Rank | Independent Political Report

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