PG Exclusive Interview: Wayne Allyn Root steps up as â€œrebel with the pitchfork,â€� seeks Libertarian nod
Pulling out his veto pen on March 8, 2008, President George W. Bush was able to successfully thwart congressional efforts to ban the use of certain harsh interrogation tactics by Central Intelligence Agency officers. This veto marked only the ninth of his near six and a half year presidency, the fewest by any Commander in Chief dating back to the Civil War. The two exceptions being Warren Harding who died two years into office and James Garfield, assassinated just six months after inauguration.
One presidential candidate, Wayne Allyn Root of Nevada, hopes to reverse this, promising to use his veto power widely and frequently if elected this November. Root, the millionaire Las Vegas odds maker, author, celebrity, and television personality is one of many candidates seeking the Libertarian Party nomination in their upcoming May convention in Colorado. Armed with two million fans in his database, Root is seeking to deliver the message of personal freedom, state's rights, and low taxes.
â€œI love the smell of vetoes in the morning,â€� declares root on his web page. Root pledges to depart significantly from the Bush administration by issuing more vetoes than any other president in history-even Franklin D. Roosevelt, who issued a whopping 635 of them during his tenure (or 25 percent of all presidential vetoes ever issued).
Recognizing the problematic nature of the Line Item Veto, struck down in 1998 by the Supreme Court, Root advocates a much more powerful tool allotted to the president, a little-known power known as â€œimpoundment.â€� This particular act occurs when a president seeks to delay or eliminate the use of congressionally approved funds-an act that has traditionally been opposed by Congress.
Following President Thomas Jefferson's lead, Root will return what he sees as unconstitutional congressional expenditures back to the United States Treasury rather than permit said funds to be used in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
â€œMany presidents have exercised this power ever since, the last being Richard Nixon, who attempted to curb runaway spending,â€� says Root. â€œBut Congress-at a time when Nixon was weak from his criminal scandals-seized the opportunity to overstep its bounds by passing the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which took away the president's unilateral power not to spend money. Nixon's argument was based on Executive powers, and not on the Constitutional duty of the Presidency.â€�
Root plans on using impoundment in the same way Jefferson did in 1801 when he returned $50,000 to the U.S. Treasury rather than spending it on a number of Navy gunboats. â€œThis President will impound every last red cent of spending that violates the Constitution,â€� according to Root. This means goodbye to hundreds of federal programs that fail to meet constitutional consent: African Development Foundation, Agency for International Development, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms, Commission on Civil Rights, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Election Commission (FEC), International Monetary Fund, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, Women's History Commission, and hundreds (if not thousands) more.
Root will head to the Libertarian Party convention, taking place May 22-26, with a small government message that not only emphasizes the traditional views of the Republican Party, but also the some ideas being ignored by both major parties. Root, a self-described S.O.B. (son of a butcher), says that the â€œVery first cabinet position to eliminate will be the Department of Education.â€�
A Reaganesque proposal, Root hopes to use this issue, as well as his plan to â€œend all federal income taxes immediately and move all of them to the state levelâ€� to win disaffected members of all parties. â€œThe Founding Fathers never envisioned a government that could take away 50 percent of the money we make,â€� claims Root. â€œI will push for an end to all federal income taxation, even opposing the Fair Tax, which will place a 30 percent sales tax on everything we buy and amounts to a big welfare program.â€�
â€œI plan on taking millions of votes away from the Republicans,â€� says Root, who is also an opponent of warrant-less wiretaps, eminent domain abuse, and Real ID. â€œMcCain is a big government conservative who wants to fight wars all over the world. There is nothing conservative about neocons. The majority of Republicans believe in smaller government, lower taxes, and patriotism that doesn't try to stuff democracy down people's throats. I am going after the millions of disgusted, disgruntled Republicans and the 27 million small businessmen and women in America.â€�
Root also differs with McCain on the Iraq War, thus offering up the possibility of attracting Democrats and independents to his cause. While McCain favors keeping U.S. forces in Iraq for the next 100 to 1,000 or 1,000,000 years if necessary, a Root presidency would admit that the Iraq war was a mistake, admit the post-war planning was a disaster, and finally acknowledge that a civil war situation currently exists in Mesopotamia. He also differs from McCain in his opposition to nation building, an effort that McCain has long supported.
Recognizing that the United States is locked in a war with radical Islam, Root could be the one presidential candidate who believes that Iraq should be helping pay for the war, which according to Boston University Professor Andrew Bacevich, is costing the United States $3 billion per week and $22 billion in total aid and assistance to the Iraqi military as of this month. Root also calls for drastically reduced foreign aid, more oversight of government spending at the Pentagon, and a cut in spending at the United Nations.
Root plans to lead the charge on fiscal conservative issues and tap into the large number of voters who gravitated to Texas Congressman Ron Paul's campaign this year. â€œOn fiscal issues, I'm straight up conservative,â€� says Root. â€œSomeone needs to lead the movement away from the nanny state.â€� Emphasizing his pitch to supporters of Paul's campaign, Root stresses that he is â€œRon Paul with one little difference-a quarter of a century from now, I'll be younger than Ron Paul is today. I'm Ron Paul on steroids!â€�
In order to make it to the big dance in November, Root must first win his party's nod by defeating former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel (profiled here a few weeks ago), former Congressman Bob Barr, and a number of lesser-known candidates also seeking the nomination. Andrew Davis, Libertarian Party spokesman, tells Political Grind that the total number of candidates may be close to 16.
â€œThe Libertarian Party can't win being the same as the Republicans and Democrats-my being a small businessman, home school Dad, citizen politician, and son of a butcher all help make me more like the Founding Fathers,â€� says Root. â€œI'm the rebel with the pitchfork. Mike Gravel is a liberal, big government Democrat who was a DC politician for many years. Gravel stands for universal healthcare, the hallmark of liberalism. He believes in global warming-I believe it is a fraud. Gravel also believes that NAFTA is a mistake, as a Libertarian, I believe that free trade is a positive thing.â€�
Commenting on the recent announcement of former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr's entry into the race, Root notes that â€œBob Barr and I have the same politics, but unfortunately, he is a lawyer and lawyers are the root (no pun intended) of the problem in Washington.â€�
Root sees a golden opportunity for Libertarians this year to run to the right in order to score a multitude of new voters. â€œIf you are anti-war and liberal, you will vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton-not the Libertarian. The proof is set for me by Mike Gravel, who ran in the Democrat primary system and got 24,000 votes. Ron Paul, who they laughed at and compared to Don Quixote fighting windmills, pulled in 800,000 votes or four percent of the overall GOP vote,â€� he says.
A Root victory in the Libertarian nominating convention would set the stage for a history-making election. Root, like Senator Barack Obama, was a 1983 graduate of Columbia University, which according to Root, creates the first presidential contest in history featuring two college classmates from the same graduating class squaring off against each other.
The role of government, the nanny state, and the nation's crushing income tax system underscore the major differences between the two classmates. â€œObama is showing he is an elitist,â€� says Root. â€œI'm the opposite of him in every single way. Elitists like Barack Obama argue 'what are Wayne Allyn Root's qualifications to be president?' I argue 'what are his qualifications'?â€�
Root sees Obama as a typical politician who has â€œnever had his name on one significant bill.â€� â€œUnder an Obama administration, the Democrats will already have the cash in your wallet and will then want the change too,â€� he says. â€œBarack Obama is like going back to the future for the Democrats, nominating a candidate just like McGovern, Muskie, Mondale. He is a divider, not a uniter as he claims.â€�
Currently the leading fundraiser in the Libertarian Party race, Root will press onward to Colorado this May to face his opponents. Clips of the recent Libertarian Party debate in Kansas City featuring Root, Barr, and Gravel can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_q … arch_type=
Nathan Shrader can be reached at [email protected]