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.