I was a guest on a popular nationally syndicated conservative talk radio show a few days ago. The show has a massive audience of millions of listeners. I’ve been a guest on this show multiple times. I’m a fan of the host- who is a brilliant guy. I’ve always considered us on the same side, fighting the same battle versus big government liberals. But now that I’ve switched from Republican defender to Libertarian Presidential candidate, my reception was very different- and very cold. The host made it very clear that he was not happy about my defection from the GOP. He presented the same old arguments that I’ve heard again and again from most every Republican defender and apologist. They are all bogus arguments because they stem from one flawed decision- to sellout in order to win. The goal of the GOP (and their apologists) is no longer to fight for smaller government and more rights for the individual. Today’s GOP craves power- and they are willing to do anything and say anything to acquire it. The result is that the GOP has become the very thing they despise- Hillary. We all know that Hillary (and Obama and Edwards and all of the leading Democrats ad nausea) desperately need big government- that’s how they bribe the masses into voting Democratic. Make government bigger; hire more people; giveaway more goodies, entitlements and earmarks; make the people dependent on big government. That’s the Democratic playbook. Make the people hopeless, helpless, aimless and clueless. Pretty soon they have to vote for bigger government- they depend on it to survive.
Isn’t that the good fight we’re fighting as conservatives and Republicans and Libertarians? Well at least some of us are still fighting the good fight. GOP apologists are simply backing a sinking ship on a cruise to nowhere. GOP apologists are willing to sacrifice everything they believe in to secure victory. But at what price? If Republicans need to bribe the electorate to get elected, what’s the difference between the two parties? Both parties now stand for bigger government, bigger spending, more Big Brother controlling the lives of ordinary Americans- the very things Republicans are supposed to be fighting against. The argument that this famous radio host made is that anything or anyone (no matter who is the GOP nominee) is better than Hillary. The host ranted and raved for an hour about what a terrible choice I’ve made to leave the GOP and run for President as a Libertarian. He railed about how hopeless my cause is and how pathetic my party is. He called my chances of winning zero because no third party has ever achieved success before. But as Shakespeare might have said, “me thinks he doth protest too much.”
Let’s examine this line of reasoning. First, I think it’s obvious that GOP defenders and apologists like this famous conservative talk host are clearly getting worried that my candidacy could take millions of votes away from the Republican Party. Logic dictates that if my third party candidacy was such a joke, this influential radio talker would not have bothered to invite me on his show. Secondly, if I wasn’t perceived as a credible threat to the GOP, this host would never have bothered to attack and denigrate me with such nasty vitriol for 60 minutes. “They only smear you when they’re frightened,” my father once taught me about politics and politicians. I think the fact that the Libertarian Party won 20% of the 2007 local elections nationwide (in races where we fielded a candidate) scares the heck out of GOP apologists. The GOP has sold out- and some of us (that haven’t drunk the Kool Aid) are now offering a better choice. I’m a lifelong businessman and entrepreneur. In a capitalist system, if someone is not offering a good product, an entrepreneur can make a fortune by creating a new choice. The same concept works in politics. The GOP product has deteriorated. The Libertarian Party is offering a fresh, new, exciting choice. GOP apologists are frightened. They are starting to realize that a revolution is brewing. Their base is no longer drinking the Kool Aid. The apologists are waking from their deep sleep- they see the bright light at the end of the tunnel- and for the first time, they are starting to realize a train is headed straight for them.
The fact that I am a credible, confident, media-savvy, high-profile candidate who can appeal to angry, betrayed Republicans just like myself, scares the heck out of GOP apologists. But worst of all, the quality (or lack thereof) of GOP Presidential candidates scares Republican apologists from coast to coast. The newly annointed front-runners, Rudy Guliani and Mike Huckabee, are Exhibit A. One candidate (Huckabee) has a history of raising taxes, increasing spending, expanding big government, opposing school vouchers, and brings a strict and extreme religious social conservatism to the table that will frighten off every last Libertarian, moderate and independent voter still left under the GOP tent.
The other candidate (Guliani) has such reckless disregard for taxpayers, that he actually charged taxpayers for $200,000 of police protection for his GIRLFRIEND- while he was married, with his wife living in the Mayor’s mansion. At best, that defines arrogance at the expense of taxpayers. It certainly shows a reckless lack of judgment. At worst, it borders on taxpayer fraud. Here we have a prosecutor who literally invented the “perp walk,” specifically designed to humiliate Wall Street executives and garner front page headlines, thereby making a name for himself as a tough, fearless crime-fighter. Yet at the same time he thought nothing of billing taxpayers $200,000 so he could cheat on his wife and protect his girlfriend. From who? The media? This is today’s GOP. They will do anything and say anything (and bribe everyone with earmarks) to stay in power- and that includes promising to cut government, cut spending, and cut bureaucracy- while in reality they are expanding government, increasing spending and super-sizing bureaucracy. But by trying so desperately to attain and retain power, Republicans have become exactly what they are fighting (Democrats).
But let’s tackle the GOP apologists’ biggest argument against my candidacy- that Libertarians can’t possibly win. They believe (or so they say) that I’m fighting a hopeless battle. Really? I often speak of myself as a S.O.B. (Son of a Butcher). Well my dad wasn’t just any butcher- he was a Jewish Republican-conservative butcher from Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was also one of the original founders of the New York State Conservative Party. My dad David Root responded to the first advertisement in a New York newspaper in 1962 to start a new party to defeat the liberal, arrogant, out-of-touch, big government GOP represented by Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller. My dad and mom attended that first meeting of the founders of the Conservative Party- led by J. Daniel Mahoney (a future New York Supreme Court justice). It was a meeting of peasants and rebels looking to start a revolution and take down the King and his court (the powerful New York State GOP). I don’t think that you could find longer odds than my parents and their friends faced back then. This was the ultimate long-shot third party. They had no money, no name recognition, no high-profile candidates, and of course, no shot-in-hell of victory. They were laughed at, taunted, and perhaps worst of all- ignored by prominent Republicans and the New York media. If my radio host friend were around back then, he would have said that my father and his ragtag bunch of third party rebels were involved in a hopeless cause. But he would have been wrong then. Just as he is wrong now.
After a few years of torture, humiliation and nonstop defeat, in 1971 my father and his friends elected James L. Buckley the first EVER Conservative Party United States Senator. They become the first third party to send a U.S. Senator to Washington in NY State history. The GOP wasn’t laughing anymore. They accomplished this miracle victory in ultra-liberal New York State, in the ultra-liberal 1960’s and ’70’s. My parents and their Conservative Party went on to help elect other “hopeless underdogs” like Senator Al D’Amato (who defeated the legendary and supposedly unbeatable Jacob Javits in a GOP primary) and Ronald Reagan (who was derided as a B-movie actor co-starring with a chimpanzee). Conservative Party candidates twice received a remarkable one million votes in statewide elections. They also helped to elect countless Republican-conservative State Assemblymen, Senators, Mayors, Councilmen, Congressman, Judges- the list was long. Each of these politicians owed their victories to this ragtag long-shot third party. A thankful President Ronald Reagan once said, “The Conservative Party has established itself as a pre-eminent force in New York State politics and an important part of our political history.”
I’m very proud of what my parents David and Stella Root helped accomplish. My father, the butcher with a high school degree, has his DNA forever on New York State political history. But he raised his children to do better, to become educated, and to literally change the world. That blue-collar butcher from Brooklyn sent his both his children to Ivy League Universities (and my sister to Columbia Law School as well). He was a remarkable man. David and Stella Root were remarkable parents. They taught me well that in this great country NOTHING is impossible. My grandfather came to America through Ellis Island at the turn of a century. He was uneducated and died in the poor ward of a Brooklyn Hospital. His son worked his whole life as a butcher, wearing a white apron with blood stains. And now this butcher’s son is running for President of the United States. God bless America. Anyone who doubts a long-shot in this great country needs a history lesson.
I learned at Columbia University that history repeats itself again and again. My dad helped found the Conservative Party in the 1960’s because he felt that the GOP had lost its way. He felt they had forgotten, or were ignoring the principles and ideals of Barry Goldwater. All these decades later, I feel the exact same way. I want to re-introduce this country to the common-sense, rugged individualism, personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism, limited government, anti-tax, pro-constitution principles of Barry Goldwater. More importantly, Goldwater was socially tolerant. He must be rolling over in his grave at the Big Brother mentality and religious-right extremism of today’s GOP. I believe social issues like abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, right to die (Terri Schiavo), medicinal marijuana and online gaming are quite simply States’ Rights issues (just as it was intended by the Constitution). Plain and simple, they are none of the federal government’s business. Like Goldwater, I want government out of the way, and out of my life. Government has no right in my bedroom, in my home, telling me what to do on my computer, what to watch on television, how to spend my own money, ordering my children to get vaccines. NONE OF IT IS ANY OF THEIR DAMN BUSINESS. Last I checked, this is why we fought the American Revolution. That revolution is yet another example for the GOP apologists of a hopeless long-shot with million-to-one odds beating a supposedly unbeatable opponent.
If Barry Goldwater were alive today, and witnessed today’s big government, Big Brother Republican philosophy, he’d switch to the Libertarian Party too. The odds may be long, but this S.O.B. (Son of a Butcher) is a chip off his old dad’s block. The battle has just begun. No wonder the GOP apologists and power players are getting frightened.
No wonder they are trying to destroy my credibility. No wonder they are desperately trying to make my Libertarian Presidential candidacy seem hopeless. The peasants and rebels and sons of butchers with the pitchforks and muskets are knocking at the door of the castle. The revolution has begun. ROOT for Liberty. ROOT for Freedom. ROOT for America.