As the best-selling author of “Millionaire Republican,” many fans and friends of mine were surprised to hear that I’d decided to run for President of the United States as a Libertarian. “Why would a lifelong Republican switch sides,” I have been asked again and again. My answer is simple- because a party built by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan to reduce the size and scope of government, has sadly become the very embodiment of Big Brother. A party that tries to interfere in the last moments of Terri Schiavo’s life; that tries to ban stem cell research; that makes the banning of gay marriage a top priority; that bans online gaming; that tries to force all 6th grade girls in Texas to get a cervical cancer vaccine; that supports warrantless wiretaps; is no longer the party of Goldwater or Reagan. Worse, it’s no longer my party. For me, the party is over. The only job of government in my opinion is to give power to the people, keep spending under control, cut our taxes, protect our property and our rights, stay out of our bedrooms, and out of our way. That my friends is my definition of good government.
The Republican Party has truly lost its way when they become the party of the Nanny State- forever telling others how to live their lives. I resent government telling me what I can do in my own bedroom, in my own home, on my own computer or TV, with my own money. I resent government telling me what I can or cannot choose for entertainment. My hero Barry Goldwater would say that government’s job is protecting us only from others looking to do us harm, NOT to protect us from ourselves. And then there’s that little document called “The Constitution.” According to the constitution, issues such as abortion, gay marraige, online gaming, assisted suicide, medicinal marijuana (the list goes on and on) are not the responsibility of the federal government. These are states’ rights issues, better left to American citizens and voters on the local level.
Yet Republican politicians at every level of government (but especially those based in D.C.) have decided they are America’s Nanny- with the intellectual standing, moral superiority, power, and right to tell individuals what they can do, when and where they can do it, and how they should live their lives. And of course, all the laws and police state to back it up. That my friends is not the Party of limited government and freedom for the individual. That is not the philosophy of Barry Goldwater.
Barry felt the definition of Conservative was to be fiscally conservative, but socially tolerant. The GOP has abandoned that philosophy to embrace “big government conservatism.” That means more rules, more laws, bigger government, more spending, enforced morality, less freedom. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in their graves.
A news headline this week proves my point on so many levels. United States Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) confessed to cavorting with prostitutes both in D.C. and New Orleans (only after numerous prostitutes stepped forward). All in the same week by the way, that John McCain’s Florida Campaign Co-Chairman was caught in a gay sex scandal. Will wonders never cease? Senator Vitter is a good example of the fact that the very politicians trying to police our behavior, are so often the biggest hypocrites. Vitter proves the folly of letting anyone (politician, priest, minister) define morality for us, tell us what to do, deciding (under penalty of law) what is right or wrong in our private lives and bedrooms. The list of morally uptight political hypocrites is so long, I couldn’t begin to list them all in this column. But it is safe to say that it seems every time a politician or religious figure preaches “holier than thou” rhetoric, they themselves believe that the same rules do not apply to them. Here is the short list: Senator Vitter, Congressman Livingston (the man that Vitter replaced), Congressman Mark Foley, Dick Morris (conservative political strategist), and countless ministers from Jim Bakker to Jimmy Swaggert to Ted Haggard.
Wouldn’t you think they’d learn? Humans are humans. We all have flaws. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. Or as I’d put it after 45 years of experience on this earth, show me an uptight moral preacher, and I’ll show you (in many cases) a suppressed pervert. That is the whole problem with today’s Republican Party. The foundation is no longer fiscal conservatism, but rather the extreme religious right morality police. That is what destroyed a golden opportunity to dominate American politics for many years to come. Americans are human. We all have indulged in sin. We have all made mistakes. And if we’ve made certain personal and private choices, most of us agree they should stay private. They are not the business of government, politicians or the morality police. Unless of course our goal is to imprison a majority of the American population. NOTE: That idea probably sounds great to the morality police, until we realize someone will have to pay for all those prisoners and jails.
As a Libertarian who is socially tolerant, I think Vitter’s scandal brings up a whole host of critical questions. First and foremost, why is Vitter’s personal weakness any of our business? Here is a guy whose fiscal politics I agree with most of the time. Like me, he supports smaller government, lower taxes, reduced spending, and secure borders. He was instrumental in defeating the terribly flawed immigration bill known as Kennedy-McCain that would have opened our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants; dramatically increased entitlements and social programs; dramatically increased government spending and therefore taxes; and granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants (law breakers) already here. A more toxic bill on the federal level has never existed. We owe Senator Vitter a debt of gratitude for defeating it.
Yet despite all that, once again we find a socially-conservative, religious, pro-marriage, pro-family politician caught with his pants down. What’s my point? Yes, Vitter is a hypocrite. But other than that, his personal life is none of our business. I don’t care what Vitter does in his spare time. I couldn’t care less what anyone does in their personal lives. Consenting adults have a right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their bedroom. It’s called freedom. Why is that our business? What does Mr. Vitter’s personal sex life have to do with me or you? How does a sex act between two consenting adults affect your life in any way? How does it hurt his constituents? How does it affect his ability to do a good job as a U.S. Senator? How does it affect the Iraq war? I care (and you should care) about his views on crucial issues to America’s future such as taxes, the size of government, government spending, the line item veto, school choice, online gaming, immigration, gun control, under-funded pension liabilities for public employee unions, and of course, the ten-ton guerilla in the room known as the Iraq War. Those are the things I care about. Not what form of entertainment that Senator Vitter chooses to enjoy in his spare time, or who he chooses to spend it with. What he does in his spare time is between the Senator, his wife and God. The rest of us have no right to judge.
But here’s the more important point that I see in the Vitter scandal. Vitter is not the biggest problem in the United States Senate. The real whores are not the politicians cavorting with hookers. That doesn’t hurt the taxpayers (as long as they’re not using taxpayer funds or doing it on taxpayer time). The real whores are the politicians collecting big government salaries who don’t even bother to show up for work. Who might that be? Try our Presidential candidates: Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sam Brownback, Joseph Biden, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama. Unlike Senator Vitter whose scandal involves personal decisions made in his spare time, here are United States Senators being paid $165,000 a year (and gigantic lifelong pensions), who spend a majority of their professional time running for President. Now that’s a real scandal.
Why shouldn’t a Senator that chooses to run for higher office, be forced to resign his or her U.S. Senate seat? Why don’t the voters of those states deserve a full-time representative? Please tell me how Senator Clinton and all the other U.S. Senators running for President could possibly be earning their big paychecks, while globetrotting around the USA trying to upgrade to a better job? How is it possible that taxpayers are getting their monies worth if their U.S. Senators are off running a campaign for President? How many hours in each day are Hillary Clinton and her colleagues absent from the U.S. Senate? Why aren’t they being docked for missed days and missed votes? How often during their Presidential campaign are they doing the business of their constituents? How often do these Presidential candidates actually step foot in the U.S. Senate? The answer is not much. Yet they are collecting a full salary from the taxpayers for a job they no longer bother to show up for. If they want the Presidency so badly, they should all be forced to give up their current day job (and paycheck) in the U.S. Senate. Or campaign only in their spare time (nights, weekends, holidays).
These politicians are the real whores, thieves and criminals- they are ripping off taxpayers for jobs they are no longer interested in performing. They could teach prostitutes a thing or two about scamming the system. Meanwhile, Senator Vitter is only guilty of poor judgment during his spare and personal time. His choices have not cost the American taxpayers a dime. Who are the real whores here? Which scandal affects taxpayers more? I believe the real scandal of “Senators Gone Wild” is not found in D.C. and New Orleans whorehouses; it is found on the Presidential campaign trail.
Wayne Allyn Root is a candidate for the Libertarian Presidential nomination.