Wayne Allyn Root isn’t your typical politician.
In fact, Root would probably reject to being called a politician, unless it’s – to use two of his own terms – as “the anti-politician” or “a citizen politician.” While that may be true, as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee, Root and his running mate Bob Barr are hoping to make a political splash.
The duo, both of whom were once Republicans, most likely won’t win the White House, but most observers agree that their ticket threatens John McCain’s candidacy, becoming this year’s Ralph Nader. Root bristles at such talk, insisting he’s in it to win it – and to set the dominant parties straight.
Root regularly uses the word “corrupt” to describe his political rivals in the Democratic and Republican camps. He also accuses those voting bloc monoliths of “legal bribery,” surely a charge that wouldn’t please John McCain or Barack Obama, with whom Root attended Columbia University, a tidbit he mentioned to our editor no less than three times.
After leaving Columbia, Root went on to work as a sports talk host for NBC radio, a gig which grew to over one hundred stations across the country. From there Root went on to television and print work before moving to Las Vegas, where he currently runs his own sports handicapping business, Winning Edge, and home schools his four children.
With regard to his former Republican ties, Root tells our editor that two main decisions squeezed him out. One was the debate over Terry Schiavo, the brain dead woman whose final moments played out in Congress and the Supreme Court. The second factor, which hit much closer to home, was the Republican-led Congress’ decision to ban online poker. Like a true Libertarian, Root believes the government should have as little involvement in people’s personal lives as possible. What’s more, the ban on online gambling struck through the heart of his American ideal:
We’re a nation of gamblers. Think about it – anybody who didn’t like gambling, they stayed in Germany, they stayed in England, they stayed in China or Ireland or Italy – they never took the chance of a lifetime… All of our ancestors, they made the choice, they were risk takers, they were the ultimate gamblers of their lives and their futures and future generations and they won. They won the lottery.
And there’s no doubt Root’s hoping to win the electoral lottery. Even if he doesn’t win this year, he vows to keep returning until he can help lead the Libertarian Party into power.
Read what else Root has to say on teaching about homosexuality in public schools, the flaws universal health care, why we need to abolish affirmative action and, yes, how he feels about the Defense of Marriage Act, a political stance on which his running mate Barr has been accused of flip-flopping – right now. (We bet you thought we were going to say “after the jump.”)
Andrew Belonsky: Your campaign website includes a quote that I thought was really funny, “Government screws up everything.” So, naturally, my first question is why did you run for the Libertarian nomination?
Wayne Allyn Root: Well, my hope and my plan is to get into office and to prove to people that less government is better government. The less involvement government has in the lives of individuals, the better. As one of my great heroes, Barry Goldwater once said, “The perfect politician is the guy or gal who puts his or hand on the bible and pledges to give the power back to the people.” I call myself the “anti-politician.” My goal is to divest myself of the power I’ve been given on the day I take office, to give it back to the people. I don’t want to run for office so I can take control over people’s lives. I want to run to office so I can give the power back to the people.
AB: You have previously described the two-party system as “corrupt.” Can you expand on your thinking on the government’s structure right now?
WR: I call the Republicans and Democrats “big and bigger and dumb and dumber.” They’re the same party – they have different views on certain issues, but there’s always a difference around the edges, and there’s rarely a difference when it comes to things like bribing.
WR: Legal bribery is what the two parties operate on. Democrats make sure that they bribe poor people, because that’s who votes for them. They steal from the rich and they give to the poor. They bribe the teacher’s union and they bribe bar associations and they bribe environmental groups by passing laws that benefit all of them. And Republicans – well, they bribe big oil and pharmaceutical companies, they bribe corporate welfare like big farms and they bribe defense contractors. Those parties operate and get elected by bribing, legally – our laws allow it – the groups that support them, but neither party does it the right way. Why not just cut government, cut out all the corporate welfare, cut government dramatically. Stop giving people money just because they vote for you! That’s what I want to do – cut expenses, cut spending, cut government and with all the money that’s left over, just give it back fairly to the tax payer.
AB: Along those same lines – as you know, obviously, during the campaign there will be televised debates. From what I understand, the Libertarian party and other third parties are not typically invited to be part of those national televised debates on the networks or cable news channels. I know that you previously worked on the radio and in television, so I’d like to get your perspective on that exclusion.
WR: Well, it’s typical. The two party system doesn’t want anyone to get in and announce that they’re corrupt, that they bribe, that they’re liars and announce that every thing they say at election time winds up being fraud because they never carry it out. That doesn’t mean we won’t get in. You automatically qualify if you get 15% of the vote in the polls the week before the debate – they will automatically let you in. Those are the rules. If we pull 15% or more, they can’t keep us out. Ross Perot got into those debates back in 1992 and 1996 – he was polling those numbers.
AB: Ah, yes. I totally forgot about that.
WR: And Ross Perot’s campaign manager is our campaign manager. Bob Barr and Wayne Root’s campaign manager is Russ Verney, who ran Ross Perot’s campaign in 1996. We’re obviously hopeful that he can bring the same expertise to our campaign that he brought to Ross’ and we can get into those debates. And, if you don’t get 15% of the vote, you can be invited into a debate by the Republicans or the Democrats. Now whether they would do that or not depends. I happen to be Barack Obama’s classmate, class of ’83, Columbia University, so I call on Barack publicly and loudly to include us in those debates and I would like to know why he would want to exclude us from those debates – and perhaps that kind of shaming will cause my classmate to invite us.