Wayne Allyn Root's departure from the Libertarian Party earlier this month was met with mixed reviews from Libertarians.
In an email exchange with Reason, Root answered several questions about his time in the LP, why he's leaving, and what he thinks of LP presidential candidate Gary Johnson. (Root declined to be interviewed by phone.)
Editor's note: Aside from cutting the length of Root's responses, Reason has not altered this interview.
Reason: So you're leaving the LP to join the Republican Party. Who are you voting for in the November election?
Wayne Allyn Root: Let's start with what I believe in. I believe in economic and personal freedom. I want government out of my life- out of both the boardroom and the bedroom. I believe in the limited government promised by the U.S. Constitution. I want government to get out of the way of small business owners like me- put fewer rules & regulations in our way, and allow us to keep more of our own money.
Under the Obama administration we have seen businessmen be denigrated, demonized, punished, smothered by 60,000 new rules and regulations, and attacked by the IRS. However, far too often the GOP has given only lip service to smaller government, individual rights, and the Constitution. Once elected, they ignore those ideas and grow government just like Democrats. Look at the spending under George W. Bush. Look at the 25,000 new rules and regulations under Bush (far better than Obama, but still terrible). Look at the growth of government and the rising debt under Bush. Look at the increase in compensation, pensions, and number of government employees under all GOP Presidents. This was precisely why I left the GOP.
But I believe with the birth and growth of the Tea Party, this is now changing. I was born to be part of the Tea Party. The Tea Party represents me. I believe in the Tea Party and I believe that with the right leader, the Tea Party can change the Republican Party…or certainly influence the GOP in a big way. So, for the first time in a long while, I feel good about the GOP and I’m happy to say I’m back! And I’ll be working hard to elect Mitt Romney the next President of the United States.
Reason: Do you think the differences between Romney and Obama are that significant?
Root: If you’re looking at social issues, or wars, or the Patriot Act, of course you can see some similarities.
But I’m a businessman. What matters now above all else…the issues that are life or death…the only issues that matter to 90% of Americans...are the economy, creating jobs, lowering spending, lowering the debt and deficit, reducing taxes, and saving capitalism. Because if the economy collapses…or your personal economy collapses…what difference does any other issue matter? FIRST we need to get our fiscal house in order, then we can deal with all the other stuff. Without an economy, nothing else matters.
This election is NOT about Libertarian versus non-Libertarian. This election is about capitalism versus big government progressivism and Big Brother socialism. Ron Paul, Rand Paul, or Jim DeMint would be that. But they aren’t running. The only two candidates who can win are Mitt and Obama. Among those two the choice is clear. Mitt is a capitalist businessman, not a career politician. Above all else, I too am a capitalist businessman.
Mitt Romney believes in the same things I do on a few key economic issues- keeping businesses free from government intrusion, allowing small business owners to keep more of their own money, and rewarding instead of punishing investors, innovators, and job creators. Mitt Romney understands, as President Calvin Cooledge once said, “the business of America is business.” Because of my general agreement with Mitt Romney on these important economic issues…the ones that truly matter at this moment in time, I’m endorsing Mitt and I’ll be working day and night, traveling the country, appearing in the media, making speeches, to help elect Mitt as the next President of the United States.
Reason: What about Gary Johnson?
Root: Gary Johnson is a good man. He built a fabulous track record as the Republican Governor of a Democratic state (New Mexico). He cut spending, cut taxes (14 times), turned a deficit into a huge surplus, and led the nation in vetoes. He’s a great fiscal conservative leader. But he’s not going to win this election. Right or wrong, America’s political system is not set up for third parties. It destroys them. It holds them back. It keeps them out of the game. It's difficult and expensive to even get on the ballot. They won't let you in the debates. This election is between Romney and Obama. And you know where I stand. Let me repeat myself- Obama must be sent to the unemployment line, or all of us will wind up on the unemployment line.
My future plan is to win the U.S. Senate seat of Harry Reid in Nevada in 2016. I hope to join the “Tea Party Caucus” of Senators Rand Paul, Jim DeMint and Mike Lee. And I could see Gary Johnson winning a Senate seat in New Mexico in the future and joining us. I’d be honored to work alongside Gary. We’d all be fighting for the same things- smaller government, a balanced budget, dramatic spending cuts, the elimination of unconstitutional government programs, and a flatter, simpler U.S. tax system.
Q: What did you get out of your time in the LP?
Root: I will always cherish my time in the Libertarian Party. I will always love the LP. It has been a whirlwind last 6 years in my life with the LP. I started as a S.O.B. (son of a butcher), small businessman, home-school dad, Las Vegas oddsmaker, political newcomer and citizen politician. Against all odds, I was elected the Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee in 2008. The Bob Barr/Wayne Root Presidential ticket garnered the 2nd highest vote total in Libertarian history. During that election, I became a regular guest on Fox News and many hundreds of radio shows.
I was then elected to the Libertarian National Committee (LNC)- the governing Board of America's Third Party. I was also elected Chairman of the Libertarian National Campaign Committee (LNCC)- the equivalent of the RNC and DNC. I was honored to be re-elected this past May to both the LNC Board and LNCC Board. I was able to gain more media attention to the LP than anyone in our party’s history- with about 4000 media appearances in the past 4 years. I was also named by the Governor of Nevada to the Judicial Selection Commission in 2010, one of only two Libertarians nationwide to be given such an honor by their Governor.
I want to thank every Libertarian that voted for me in each of these elections. It was you who made this success possible. I will be forever grateful for the faith you placed in me. The Libertarian Party was very good to me…and I was good for the Libertarian Party.
But I see what’s happening to the economy…my businesses…my friends’ small businesses. So it was time to make a change. This is all much bigger than “Libertarian or not.” It was time to take a stand for my family, my four beautiful children, and my country. I’ll always love the Libertarian Party. I hope to work hand in hand with Libertarians like Gary Johnson and Libertarian Republicans like Ron Paul and U.S. Senator Rand Paul to move this country in the direction of smaller, less intrusive government, less spending, and lower taxes. But to effect change, I realized it has to be done in a party that can get people elected. That’s the Republican Party.
Reason: What is a Reagan Libertarian?
Root: Yes, I proudly call myself a REAGAN Libertarian. Again, you might be missing the point here. This is about economics. We desperately need a Ronald Reagan to save our economy. Reagan's policies turned a Jimmy Carter economic disaster (just like Obama's) into the greatest and longest economic boom in world history- leading to the creation of over 45 million net jobs; over $60 trillion in private sector asset creation; and the greatest increase in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in American history. Reagan's Bull Stock Market created more wealth for America's families than any boom ever. It all led to the greatest economic expansion in world history. These are all facts. It was all because of the largest tax cut in U.S. history- from 70% top rate to 28%.
At this point in time Mitt Romney is our Reagan- with an exceptional added benefit. Mitt is also one of the most successful businessmen and turnaround experts in America. This is the last stand of capitalism. Our backs are against the wall. Mitt is the perfect man for the job at hand. Defeating Obama is simply more important than party loyalty, or worrying about whether our candidate is perfect, or whether we agree on every issue. The only issue that matters is the survival of our economy, our country, and the American Dream.
Reason: What does it say about the Libertarian Party that its 2008 ticket is endorsing the Republican for president, not the LP candidate?
Root: It says exactly what I’ve said for this entire interview. This election is bigger than “Libertarian or not.” It’s survival of business, or not. It’s survival of the U.S. economy, or not. It’s survival of capitalism, or not. It survival of my legacy to my 4 children. Businesses just cannot take 4 more years of Obama.
It also says that Wayne Root wants to work within a major party to move policy in a more Libertarian and fiscally conservative direction. That’s a noble cause. I want my children and grandchildren to know I actually made a difference.
And I don't know how anyone can argue with that- it's the same decision made by Ron Paul, Rand Paul, David Koch (a former LP Vice Presidential candidate just like me), and even the founders of CATO. They all eventually left the LP. But they are all making a fantastic difference in American politics. We all have choices to make. Never forget that freedom of choice and free markets are what Libertarianism is all about. Never criticize someone just because they make a different choice than you. I believe that I'll be able to move the country in a more Libertarian direction by being a Libertarian Republican, than I ever could as a Libertarian.