Wikinews interviews U.S. Libertarian presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with Wayne Allyn Root, one of the candidates for the Libertarian Party nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

Root is the founder and chairman of Winning Edge International Inc., a sports handicapping company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, he is an author and a television producer, as well as an on-screen personality both as host and guest on several talk shows.

Root, a long-time Republican, declared his candidacy for the Libertarian Party on May 4, 2007.

He says he is concerned about the qualities of many who run for president, and fears that they do not know the needs of American citizens. He also says that they cater to big businesses instead of small ones.

He has goals of limiting the federal government and believes that the US went into Iraq for wrong reasons. A strong supporter of the War on Terror, he feels that it was mishandled. He has conservative values and came from a blue collar family in New York. He graduated from Columbia University with fellow presidential hopeful Barack Obama in 1983.

Root believes that America is in trouble and hopes to change that if elected.


 ((WN )) : Why do you want to run for president? How would you help your fellow Americans if elected?

Mr. Root: I decided to run for President of the United States because the same people keep running (and being elected) who have screwed everything up in the first place! Every recent President or Presidential candidate falls into one of these same categories: lifelong government bureaucrat or politician (people who have never started a business, funded a business, created jobs, paid health insurance for employees, paid millions in taxes, fought through government regulations, or added millions of dollars to the American economy)…or lawyer (same lack of qualifications…but worse- they make their living by suing the people and companies that create jobs)…or big businessman (out of touch millionaires or billionaires like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Ross Perot)…or spoiled brats who have never experienced pain, failure or adversity like the rest of us. I break that mold. I'm a small businessman (I built a company with 35 employees) and self-made son of a butcher. The entire U.S. economy is fueled by small business. Small businesses now create the majority of jobs in the USA. Small business creates the jobs, pays the taxes, pays the health insurance, makes the U.S. economy go and grow.
Politicians are always far behind the curve. They fawn over big business, big unions, huge corporations, like GE, Microsoft, Exxon or Halliburton. They ignore a small businessman like me with 35 employees. I can't afford lobbyists or huge campaign contributions. So we're left out of the national political dialogue. But guess what? Put all of America's small businessmen together and we're far more important than GE or Microsoft or Exxon or Halliburton. America is a nation of small business owners (and the tens of millions of people that we employ). Small business owners are the heroes of the American economy- we are the risk takers and daring innovators and business leaders. We risk our own money on our own ideas, putting everything we own on the line. We are the CEO's and Generals of our own small worlds- we have no Board of Directors, Ivy League lawyers, layers of big shot executives, or highly-paid lobbyists and consultants to assist us. We make decisions all by ourselves on pure gut instinct- and either hit a homerun or strikeout. We're the last of the rugged individualists. We are like the Wright Brothers or Lewis & Clark. Small businessmen are the courageous explorers who tamed the Wild West on sheer guts, instincts and chutzpah. We are what America is all about.
I'm proud to be the FIRST small businessman running for President. Who better to lead a country of small business owners, small investors, entrepreneurs, independent contractors (commissioned salespeople) and the people they employ? Who better than a small businessman to cut the size of government? I've lived my whole adult life on my wits, gut instincts and a small budget. What a perfect business experience as a model to run the U.S. government. Far better to put a small businessman in charge who has always made do with less money…than some out-of-touch, spoiled-brat, big business CEO, used to spending billions of dollars and delegating authority to a staff of thousands. If you agree that it's time for a big change- I'm your guy. I'm the guy George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were thinking of when they founded America and created the greatest document ever-the U.S. constitution. I'm a part-time politician who also runs his own small business. I'm the quintessential Citizen Legislator.
As far as how I'd help my fellow Americans, my answer is simple. Get the government out of their lives and out of their business as much as possible. Cut government, cut the bureaucracy, cut the entitlements, and dramatically reduce the tax burden. Get government out of the way and allow small business and small investors to lead the way- to grow, prosper, flourish and thrive. You'll see the greatest economic explosion in world economic history.

 ((WN )) : You were a Republican until not too long ago. Why the sudden switch to the Libertarian Party?

Mr. Root: I didn't leave the Republican Party- the GOP left me. The first problem with the GOP is that they talk a great game- smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, reduced bureaucracy. It sounds great. But it's only talk. They only use that talk to get elected. It's just a sales job. However, Republicans are at least slightly better than the Democrats when it comes to fiscal policy. At least Republicans want to cut taxes. But they have no interest in cutting government. They love earmarks, giveaways and spending as much as their Democrat brothers. I call the 2 parties big and bigger, dumb and dumber! Both parties want to make government bigger so they control more power, more money, more spoils to handout to their voters. It's outright bribery- and it's disgraceful.
The second reason for my switch is that I'm a fiscal conservative in the mode of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul. But when it comes to social issues, I'm a pure Libertarian. Unfortunately the GOP has morphed into Big Brother when it comes to social issues and personal freedoms. They have decided it's okay to use big government to force religion and morality on the American people. I couldn't disagree more strongly.
Third, while I believe the war on terror is real and I strongly support it, I believe Bush and the GOP have completely screwed it up. The Dept of Homeland Security is just a new bungling bureaucracy. Making me take off my shoes and getting rid of my toothpaste won't prevent terrorism. Neither will hiring hundreds of thousands of new government employees- most of whom could never find a good job in the private sector. The people that work for Homeland Security are for the most part bungling idiots. So is the Bush administration. They are so busy fighting the wrong war in Iraq, that as a recent study proved, we are completely unprepared, in case of national emergency or terrorist attack here at home. Very little of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to terrorism have been dealt with- our port security is lax, cargo on airplanes goes virtually unchecked, and seven long years after 9/11 we have only 50 FBI agents out of 10,000 who speak Arabic. How could that be possible? Worse, we've used the war on terror to justify taking away our own civil liberties in America. Winning the war against terrorism is not a victory if we give up freedom in our own country to achieve it.
And finally, the war on terror should be fought NOT by invading entire countries, but through the use of specially trained rapid-strike teams and special forces taking out terrorist leaders wherever they may be hiding. Spending a trillion dollars on occupying Iraq was a costly mistake. It's been a disaster in terms of money wasted, lives lost and instability at home. The military forces of the United States are stretched to the brink. The National Guard has been plundered- it is now virtually useless to defend our homeland. I've come to realize that Bush and this entire administration are incompetent “Keystone Cops.” I believe in the war on terror- but not the way it's being run right now.
Fourth, I'm a spiritual person. I love God. I believe in the power of prayer. I've seen the studies that prove the healing power of prayer. I've seen the studies that prove religious people are happier and healthier. So I pray every day. My kids start and end every day with prayer. I believe that America has been blessed by God. But God and religion are personal issues made by each individual. I don't want politics to be used as a tool by religious people to stuff religion down our throats. I would fight to the death to protect your right to be religious, to practice any religion of your choice…or to practice no religion at all. I'm a great believer in personal freedom. Your choices are your choices- and none of the government's business.
I happen to not smoke, drink or do drugs of any kind- EVER. That's my choice of lifestyle. On the other hand, I love to gamble. I'm a risk taker- whether it's betting on a business idea, a stock, a million dollar real estate investment, or the Dallas Cowboys. That's my chosen form of entertainment. It's none of your business- and it's certainly none of the government's damn business. I would never try to force my choice of lifestyle or my definition of morality upon anyone else. Today's GOP disagrees. They are a big government party playing Big Brother. They spend their time like the busybody old lady peeking out the window to spy on her neighbors. Today's GOP wants to define morality, legislate it and throw people in jail who disagree. I find this disgusting and offensive. It's just plain wrong. It's anything but conservative. It's the Nanny State. I want to lead the battle to stop it- forever. What Americans do in their homes, in their bedrooms, on their computers, watch on their TV sets is none of the government's damn business. The job of government is to protect us from others, NOT to protect us from ourselves. And the job of government is certainly not to criminalize moral behavior. That's why our ancestors left England and fought a revolution. We didn't want the King of England telling us what to do, what religion to worship, or to tax us heavily without representation. But all of that is happening today. It's our own government taxing us to death, wiretapping our phone calls and emails without warrants, and putting Americans in jail for minor offenses, choices of morality and victimless crimes.

 ((WN )) : There are thousands reading this right now, many of which may not have decided who they are going to vote for. What could you say to encourage them to give you their vote?

Mr. Root: Barack Obama (my college classmate Columbia University Class of '83) talks nonstop about change. So do Hillary and McCain. None of them are agents of change. They are longtime politicians (and lawyers). They are the problem- not the solution. Barack was just named as the single most liberal member of the entire U.S. Senate. That's based on facts- his voting record. Is that the change we want? That's not change- that's the same old “soak the rich,” “redistribute the wealth,” “spend like a drunken sailor,” and “spend trillions on a failing war on poverty” philosophy of big government, out-of-touch, bleeding heart liberals like Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. Is this what America calls change? While China and Russia turn unabashedly capitalistic, do we want to move towards Socialism?
McCain is another big government conservative. He's been collecting government checks in D.C. for 25 years. Hillary wants Universal Healthcare- so we can bankrupt America and throw Americans in jail for trying to choose the doctor of their choice. Scary. That's what happens in UK and Canada- if you're sick you wait in line for weeks or months to see a doctor- who is forced upon you by the government. You don't like that doctor-too bad. He's an incompetent doctor- too bad. You're out of luck. You need a hip replaced right away? Too bad- you'll have to sit in a wheelchair for 18 months until it's your turn. Anyone want that system?
Who wants to vote for “the same old, same old.” The D.C. insiders are the ones who have ruined things. Our country is in trouble. It's time for a dramatic change; a non-violent revolution. Who better to lead that revolution than a son of a butcher. I say “THROW THE BUMS OUT.” A perfect example is found in the final 3 contenders for the major party Presidential nominations- Clinton, Obama, and McCain are people that have been agents of big government their whole lives. Always collecting government checks. Always voting against tax cuts (even though it's our money in the first place). Always feeding off taxpayers. Always bribing the voters to stay in office- thereby increasing government spending and running up a huge deficit. But here's the worst thing of all- all 3 are sitting U.S. Senators. They collect a 6-figure income from the taxpayers. Being a Senator is a full-time job, isn't it? But these 3 are spending every waking hour campaigning for President. How are they earning their $175,000 U.S. Senate salaries? They're not even present to vote on important bills. They are cheating the citizens of New York, Illinois and Arizona. It's, in my opinion, fraud to run for higher office while collecting a check for another political office. The rules should be changed- if you want to run for President, you have to step down from your present office. Why should taxpayers pay the cost for absent politicians who ignore the job for which they are being paid?
If what I'm saying strikes a chord- it's time to vote for a complete outsider. A rebel with a pitchfork and musket. A citizen legislator. A small businessman, S.O.B. (son of a butcher) and Las Vegas oddsmaker. I am the perfect “OUT OF THE BOX” candidate. Some people are scared of Vegas. Religious people think it has a negative connotation. You know what the difference is between Las Vegas and Washington D.C.? In Vegas the drunks gamble with their own money! It's time to shake things up in Washington. Put the rebel and maverick small businessman from Las Vegas in charge. I could certainly do a better job than the fools, hypocrites and greedy thieves that have run this country for the past 50 years.

 ((WN )) : How would you handle the situation in Iraq?

Mr. Root: There are no good or simple answers for Iraq. It's a tough situation. We shouldn't be there. It was the wrong war. We won Afghanistan- then we made a big mistake by adding Iraq to the equation. Now we're losing ground in Afghanistan too. We should have stayed focused on the only true enemy- the Taliban, Al Queda and the terrorists. We should have won big in Afghaistan and then gone after the remaining terrorists- not Saddam. He was just a distraction. An evil, cruel, murdering dictator who bragged of having weapons of mass destruction- so it's good he's gone. But nonetheless Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time. Now we've spent a trillion dollars and lost thousands of lives on a big mistake. But we're there. I believe it would e a mistake to turn tail and run. I agreed with the recommendation of the Generals on the ground- to build up a troop surge. We did and it's been a great success. The enemy is on the run. I'm proud that even though I didn't support the war, I supported the surge. We were correct. It worked. Now let's use the success to declare victory and get out as soon as possible. That won't be tomorrow, but it can realistically be 12 to 18 months from now. Let's give the Iraqi government time to build up its own security, police and military- and then “get the hell out of Dodge.” That's the best answer I can come up with for a difficult, disastrous and complicated problem with no easy way out. I think my support of the surge was reasonable, fair and commonsense. My compromise solution above is reasonable, fair and based on commonsense. It's about the best choice we have right now.
But there are some important lessons to be learned here. All is not lost. A tragedy becomes a positive if you can learn from your mistakes. I call it “The Black Box Theory.” What good could come f a plane crash where 100 passengers die? Actually, a lot of good. If we recover the “black box” and study it, we can learn from the tragedy and prevent millions of future deaths. Those 100 victims suddenly become heroes. They didn't die in vain. Their deaths will save many others in the future. We can turn Iraq into a “black box.” I've learned that “Nation Building” is a failure. We can't force Democracy down the throats of other countries. We should mind our own business. Most importantly, we can't afford to be the world's policeman.
Further, I've learned we spend far too much time, effort and money interfering in the business and politics of others. Ron Paul is a bit extreme and he scares a lot of Americans by demanding a complete end to foreign aid and American military bases all over the world. But he's certainly brought up a good point that should lead to a serious discussion. I believe he's on the right track. We need to look at what we're spending and what we're accomplishing. I think it's time to cut foreign aid dramatically. I think it's time to eliminate many U.S. military bases around the world. It's time to let Japan, South Korea and Western Europe defend themselves. It's not our job to pay to protect the entire world. And it's time to cut the waste out of defense spending and the Pentagon- just as we should do with all government spending. If it's okay to criticize entitlements and welfare waste, why is it not okay to seek out waste in the defense budget too? If we can call for an end to welfare, I think we should end corporate welfare and national defense welfare too. I think it's obvious that defense contractors and security firms are ripping off he American taxpayer. Why is that acceptable? Because we're at war? Because Haliburton and Blackwater are close friends with the Bush Administration? Theft is theft. Waste is waste. It doesn't matter if those ripping off the taxpayer wear pinstripe suits or military uniforms. I will root out waste EVERYWHERE.
Perhaps most importantly, I don't think it makes sense to fight for freedom and civil rights in Iraq, while we take away freedom and civil liberties in our own country. No war is worth fighting if it results in reduced freedom and liberties for our own citizens. Those are the lessons I've learned from Iraq.

 ((WN )) : Do you believe that it is really possible for you to win the 2008 election, being a third party candidate and all?

Mr. Root: First of all, YES, it is possible. I'll report the findings of two recent polls. The first poll reported that a majority of Americans would consider voting for a third party candidate. The American people are getting screwed by the 2-party system, and they know it. They are desperately looking for a reason to vote for a credible alternative. The second poll found that a large swath of Americans describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” otherwise known as Libertarian. So there is hope. One of my heroes Ronald Reagan took 16 years to be elected President. I'm starting a 16 year campaign to win the Presidency and reduce the size, scope and power of government. It'll be a battle- but who better to win hat battle than a guy named W.A.R. Ron Paul (Republican candidate) is 72 years old right now. I'll still be younger than Ron Paul a quarter of a century from now! I've got time on my side.
By the way, third party politics is far from hopeless. I have personal experience proving that third party politics can produce victory.
I started my political career in 1964 at the age of 3, handing out campaign literature for Barry Goldwater, in my father's arms outside a supermarket in Mt. Vernon, NY. My father was a butcher and small business owner (he owned a 2 man butcher shop). My father was one of the people who answered a newspaper ad in the early 1960's to start a new political party- The Conservative Party of NY State. By 1971 they had elected a third party United States Senator named James Buckley. By 1980 they helped little known Al D'Amato defeat powerful incumbent U.S. Senator Jacob Javits. They were also instrumental in supporting a much-maligned B-movie actor who later became President (Ronald Reagan). Not bad for a blue collar Jewish butcher from Brownsville, Brooklyn. I'm a political leader in my father's image. I'm a strong fiscal conservative who stands for fiscal discipline, smaller government, reduced government spending, reduced taxes, reduced entitlements, reduced powers for the federal government, elimination of the IRS, elimination of entire government cabinet departments (like the Dept of Education), and more personal responsibility and rights for the individual.
But I'm not your “classic conservative.” I'm a social Libertarian. I will end the Nanny State. It's none of government's business what I do with my body or my computer in the privacy of my home. I believe issues like abortion, gay marriage, online gambling, right to die, medicinal marijuana are all up to the states. Leave people alone. As long as you're not violating my rights, I believe you can do whatever you want without government interference. I want Big Brother out of our lives. A true conservative could not possibly believe in Big Brother telling us how to live our lives. I am a true conservative. Barry Goldwater and my father would be proud.
Will I win the Presidency in 2008? Highly unlikely, but not impossible. Ladbrokes of UK, the largest legal oddsmaker in the world, has set the odds- they make me a prohibitive favorite to attract he most votes in Libertarian Party history. That will be a nice start. I fully expect this to lead to victory in 2012, 2016 or 2020. The battle has just begun! ROOT for Liberty. ROOT for Freedom. ROOT for America.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.