Wayne Root throws Gary Johnson under the bus

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few years, then you know that I’m not the biggest fan of Wayne Allyn Root, who was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2008 and currently serves as an Libertarian National Committee LNC) member. I don’t go out of my way to knock on the guy, but he frequently says and does things that make him an easy target for criticism.

Back in 2010, Root had agreed to participate in a mock trial on Barack Obama’s citizenship, putting him in the middle of the so-called “Birther” conspiracy. Root went to Columbia University at the same time as Obama, but claims never to have seen him, insinuating that that Obama’s claim of attendance at the school is a lie. This has wound up in chain e-mails (I actually received it from my boss several months ago), though it Snopes rates it as false.

This and some of Root’s less than libertarian political beliefs convinced me to back Mark Hinkle for chairman of the LNC at the national convention in St. Louis in 2010. Hinkle, a long-time party member and activist, was viewed as the “safe pick” among the candidates for chair.

Root backed out of the mock trial after being covered by various blogs, including myself. Root claimed that he hadn’t read the details of the trial. It was more like he got called out for associating with crazies and decided to back off. A few months later, Root also joined xenophobes in targeting the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” His rant against it revealed that he has little respect for property rights and religious freedom, both fundamental principles of the libertarian philosophy.

Root has been in and out of controversy inside the Libertarian Party, though much of it is inside baseball. My personal dislike for and disappointment with the LNC and its various factions keeps me from getting involved in it too much. However, he has recently caught my attention once again. Over at Reason, Brian Doherty notes that Root essentially endorsed Mitt Romney for president over Gary Johnson, who will most likely be the Libertarian Party’s nominee, during a recent interview.

Here is what Root said:

I think the important thing now is to make sure Obama is not elected,and that means in my mind, I would love for a libertarian like Gary Johnson the two term governor of New Mexico would actually get elected President, but I think we all know that’s not going to happen so therefore it’s got to be Romney there is no choice.

Root, who posted on a thread about the interview at Independent Political Report, says that he is being taken out of context:

I said in a perfect world I’d like to see Gary Johnson elected President, he’d be the best choice out there…I also said several times on the call that Mitt Romney is a big spending, big government Northeast liberal…that he will make very little difference because of this…

And that the difference between Obama and Romney…

Is that Romney will slow down our path off a cliff just a bit…and Obama will take us off the cliff in a matter of minutes.

But neither is good enough to save USA from long decline towards mediocrity.

And that Romney’s victory will most probably prove that neither party can change our problems enough to save the economy…so hopefully it will lead to a serious Libertarian third party threat in 2016…of which I plan to be the Presidential candidate.

I listened to the interview. Root is not being taken out of context.

Before I go on, I need to address something. Bob Barr, who was the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2008, endorsed Newt Gingrich at the end of last year. I wasn’t happy about it, but I didn’t criticize him publicly (I have discussed it with him in private), and for three reasons. First, Barr doesn’t serve in any official capacity for the Libertarian Party, though he was an LNC member and was a presidential nominee.

Secondly, Barr had already made it clear, by briefly considering a run for Congress against Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), that he had gone back to the Republican fold. And lastly, Gingrich and Barr served in Congress together and there is no doubt some personal friendship there.

Back to Root. He’s no doubt still bitter that he wasn’t elected chairman in 2010. Though he isn’t running for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination in 2012, I had heard that he was planning to run due to the lack of a quality candidate in the field. When Johnson joined the Libertarian Party and declared for its presidential nomination, Root backed off.

If you read Root’s commentaries, both in online and TV, and posts on Facebook or Twitter, he has been trying to appeal to conservatives. This isn’t because he is trying to promote the Libertarian Party or libertarianism to a larger audience, though I’m sure he would say otherwise, it’s part of the way markets himself. Wayne Root is in it for Wayne Root. He always has been.

There have already been calls for Root to either resign his seat on the LNC or for his removal, but we’re less than a month away from the national convention, so that would be pointless right now. If you’re frustrated with Root, then just don’t vote for him if he runs for an At-Large seat again.

Disclosure: I work for Bob Barr’s Liberty Guard and currently serve as Gov. Johnson’s state director in Georgia.