A recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal explained why Barack Obama is beating Hillary Clinton- the answer is, not surprisingly, SALES. The article sums it up, “With no disagreement on policy, Democrats opt for a top salesmanâ€¦if you are selling a dream you need the best possible salesman to make it seem somehow possible. They found him in Barack Obama.” If it is true that the Democrats have found their salesman (unfortunately to sell a corrupt, damaging and dysfunctional liberal tax and spend dream), then I believe that the Libertarian Party has a once in a lifetime opportunity standing before them. You see I am not just Barack’s match as a salesman and communicator of a political message. I am Barack Obama’s college classmate. Yes, we are graduates of the same college (Columbia University), same class (Class of ’83), same major (Political Science). We graduated on the same day 25 years ago. Never before in the history of American politics have two college classmates run against each other for President. Talent aside, sometimes you just need a bit of luck. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined running for President in the same election as my college classmate.
On so many levels, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. The Columbia University classmate story will give the Libertarian Party a unique angle to attract national media attention. What media outlet in the country could resist seeing the two college classmates running for President, side by side, debating and discussing issues, values and visions. Third party candidates rarely (if ever) get this kind of media exposure. But the real opportunity of a lifetime is the ability to so clearly contrast the stark differences in the paths we’ve each taken in the past 25 years since college graduation. No two political opponents have ever been able to point so clearly to how their philosophies and political visions have changed their lives.
Let’s now compare the stories of two young men who graduated Columbia University on the exact same day in June, 1983. Both were children of non-priviledged backgrounds. Barack, a product of bi-racial parents, grew up as the rare black kid in Hawaii. Root, the blue collar son of a butcher, grew up the rare Jewish kid in a virtually all-black public school on the Bronx borderline in Mt Vernon, New York. Both of us later benefited from attending exclusive private schools (in both cases with help from our grandparents) that prepared us for entrance into Columbia University. That however is where the eerie similarities in our lives end. Obama and I took very different paths after graduation from Columbia. Those paths will illuminate the value of the Libertarian conservative economic message.
I chose the path of an entrepreneur and small businessman. I’ve started businesses, funded businesses, risked my own money on business ideas to achieve the American Dream. I’ve created jobs; pumped tens of millions of dollars into the American economy; made hundreds of payrolls so that my employees could raise families, pay mortgages, and share in the American Dream themselves; and paid health insurance and payroll taxes for my employees. Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve also failed a few times. Perhaps that’s the problem with politicians- they’ve never risked or lost their own money. Many Venture Capitalists actually invest only in businesspersons who have failed before (and learned valuable lessons). Perhaps that should also be a litmus test for politicians who want to run the most powerful economy in the world.
Small businessmen and women (27 million strong) are the economic engine and quintessential heroes of the U.S. economy. In a modern world where small business now creates the majority of non-government jobs, I believe it’s time for a small business owner to fight for the small business constituency and ultimately occupy the White House.
Contrast my 25 years since graduation with my classmate Barack Obama- the big government-loving, ultra-liberal, George McGovern-like tax and spender who favors redistribution of wealth from those that earn itâ€¦to those that desire handouts and government entitlements. Barack has never met a tax he didn’t support- and it’s no wonder. He has spent his quarter century since graduation from Columbia as a law student, law professor, lawyer, community activist and career politician. He’s never started a business; never funded a business; never run a business; never risked a dime of his own money on a business; never created a job; and never paid anyone else’s health insurance or payroll taxes. And he’s never had to face the endless stream of government regulations and interference in the running of a business either.
To the contrary, Barack has lived off a safe weekly paycheck provided by the taxpayers for more than a decade now. And as a United States Senator, he’ll live off a taxpayer-funded pension for the rest of his life. As an attorney and self-proclaimed “community activist,” he’s spent his life suing and protesting the very people who create the jobs and grow the economy. Quite a contrast.
As further background to the small businessman vs. big government-lover, let’s examine where we have each chosen to live. Barack is an Illinois resident. Illinois has among the highest tax rates in the country. Income tax, business tax, sales tax and property taxes are so high, they are driving residents by the thousands out of state. Illinois is a prime example of the folly, fallicy and failure of big government and big taxes. Small business owners are overwhelmed by taxes in the state that Barack calls home. The result is a dramatic loss of jobs, businesses and residents. It’s a vicious cycle caused by liberal tax and spenders.
The higher the taxes and entitlements, the more successful people (business owners, job creators, high income earners, retirees with nest eggs to protect) are forced to leave for lower tax states. The result is of course a loss of tax revenues. And who is left behind in high tax states like Illinois- the less productive citizens who can’t afford to move (and who often depend on handouts from government). So taxes must be raised again to compensate for the loss of producers- the very residents who create the jobs and pay the taxes. Illinois is a dying state because of the ultra-liberal tax and spend policies of politicians like Barack Obama.
On the other hand, I have chosen to live, work and raise my family in Nevada. Nevada has been the fastest growing state in America for 20 of the past 21 years. Las Vegas is perennially America’s fastest growing city. It is a dynamic epicenter of American culture and the U.S. economy- leading the way in small business creation. USA Today recently called Las Vegas, “the economic engine of Wall Street.” Nevada has been among the leaders in virtually every economic category for 20 years- including jobs created. A remarkable 6000 to 7000 new residents a month move to Las Vegas to take advantage of boundless opportunity. But it’s the type of people that move to Nevada that matters for the 2008 election. They tend to be rugged individualists, modern-day pioneers uprooting and moving West to escape high taxes, big government and Big Brother (in states like Illinois). It is no coincidence that Nevada happens to be the most Libertarian state in America.
Want proof of the fiscally conservative, socially tolerant (and quirky) nature of Nevadans? How about zero state income taxes, zero business income tax, zero inheritance tax, and far lower property taxes than liberal tax and spend states like California, New York and of course Barack Obama’s Illinois. It’s no wonder that Nevada is the small business capital of the country. Mix that with legalized gambling, and legalized prostitution (the only state in USA) and you start to notice the distinct Libertarian streak. People want to move to Nevada to be left alone by government. They want to keep more of the money they’ve earned (afterall, government forgets- it is our money in the first place)…and they want the freedom to do what they want in their private lives without interference from Big Brother.
Want more proof of the Libertarian credentials of Nevada? Ron Paul came in second in Nevada’s Republican caucus- tied for his strongest showing in the country. Nevada is truly “Libertarian country.” My Nevadan roots (excuse the pun) offer an opportunity for the best showing in Libertarian political history- perhaps a close third place, or dare I predict a second or first place Libertarian Presidential showing. In November of 2008, Nevada could become the first Libertarian electoral state.
The story of Root vs. Obama presents a terrific opportunity to gain nonstop national media exposure. And an even bigger opportunity to contrast the stark differences in our political philosophies, choices and visions. I hope Libertarian voters will allow me to lead the way and present our Libertarian case. Barack Obama liberally uses the word â€œhope.â€� Yet our contrasting stories and choices prove that only our Libertarian vision offers true hope. Americans have already voted for my Libertarian vision- they’ve voted with their feet- out of Illinois in record numbers, and into Nevada in record numbers. They’ve already chosen the right path- now Libertarians just need a candidate to communicate why voters now need to make the right choice for President. I have been honing my sales, communication and television skills my entire life for this one special moment in time.
If you plan on being a delegate to the National Convention in Denver, please write us and share your thoughts with us. Share your horror stories about how big government is interfering in your business and how high taxes damage your lifestyle and limit your choices. I will pledge to share many of your stories in my many media appearances. Your stories can help create a more compelling Libertarian message. Be sure to tell us you’re going to Denver, so we can send you more information for your delegation.
Wayne Allyn Root