Libertarian Follies

Root’s comments to Vegas Seven stir up the rabble

Wayne Allyn Root, Las Vegas’ most famous libertarian, has never sought splendid isolation from his critics. So when he told Vegas Seven that he hoped to re-create libertarianism in a more conservative mold [“The Freedom Fighters,” Nov. 11], he was hardly surprised to find himself pilloried in the libertarian blogosphere.

The blog Libertarian Peacenik, for instance, called Root “Clintonesque,” a dark tribute to his preference for electoral pragmatism over ideological purity. It then linked to solemn resolutions from both the Florida and Idaho Libertarian Parties that cited Root’s comments to Vegas Seven and called for his expulsion from the Libertarian National Committee.

A sampling from Florida:

WHEREAS, the Libertarian Party of Florida Executive Committee finds Mr. Root’s comments highly offensive and in direct contrast to the Libertarian Party’s message … .

“Can you imagine if the Republican Party passed resolutions to try to censor the words of Mitt Romney because they like Sarah Palin better?” Root says. “You just have to let it roll off your back. There’s a small, vocal group that wants to keep the Libertarian Party small and pure and never elect anyone. But if you can’t elect anyone, you can’t move America in small steps toward libertarianism.”

Root says that his comments did not imply a disregard for social liberties, but a conviction that the Libertarian Party’s message, at this time, should put a clear emphasis on the economy. “You can’t worry about whether a gay person can marry or not if you’re starving and homeless. First, you have to focus on jobs.” With the possibility of real prospects for third-party candidates in upcoming election cycles, Root says the party should recognize that its natural allies are small business owners, tax rebels and fiscal conservatives.

Root will be able to make his case on his home turf when the Libertarian Party holds its national convention in Las Vegas in May 2012 at Red Rock Resort. It would seem an ideal time for Root, the party’s 2008 vice-presidential candidate, to launch a presidential bid, but he’s not certain.

“The No. 1 factor is, who are the Republicans running,” Root says. “If it’s Ron Paul, he and I have the same views on every issue, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to run.”

The second factor, Root says, is his focus on the long-term electoral strength of the Libertarian Party. As chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee, Root has made it his goal to build an infrastructure that can win prominent seats. “By 2016, I want a party that has elected a few major candidates and has established itself as a major fundraising juggernaut,” he says. “Then I’ll run for president.”

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