Chapter 6: The Citizen Revolution
After touting himself as the United States most successful odds maker and prognosticator (along with a litany of old TV gigs) Root predicts a ‘Citizen Revolution’. Claiming that the two party system is failing, he spouts that “never before in modern political history has the time been more right (excuse the pun) for a third party to successfully do battle with the two major parties.” Things that make you say hmmmmm. While it is nice to see someone say the the LP is a better fit for the large amount of independents that identify as fiscally conservative and socially ‘liberal’ (I’ll use that term far easier than Root will allow himself – I can’t stand the ‘tolerant’ implications on human relations) the reality on the ground is always drastically different than would be candidates and hopefuls can allow themselves and continue. So just turning on the Disney hope routine and the bashing of both sides never really ever amounts to much when the cold hard logic of history and politics takes hold.
Before getting into the specifics of Root’s 9 point plan for the Citizen Revolution, I’d like to proffer a theory called the Fallacy of the Demographic. The idea is that just because you are a member of a particular demographic and a candidate for national office, it by no means transcends the reality of a system that will and has always favored two main parties. No amount of shilling or appeal will change this. With that in mind, let’s look at why Root will not be successful in each regard.
1. Independent minded small business owners, entrepreeurs and independent contractors.
As a member of this community I see no evidence that Root can make significant headway here. They know where their bread is buttered and it ain’t Wayne. Setting aside all the virtues of this class of citizen, they for the most part settle into pretty traditional liberal and conservative sympathies and recognize the reality and value of the current system. Many of them fear to tread too heavily in the political sphere for fear of alienating customers and real political allies. Even though the sitting politicians may in fact act against their interests, loyalties and tendencies amongst these groups tend to run deep. ” Oh yeah, I’ve known Politician X for 25 years and he’s been good to us.”
2. Home-school parents, plus millions of parents looking for education reform, parental choice and more freedom to choose alternatives to our failing schools.
It seems like it would be very hard for a national candidate to make this case because of its local reality and effect. Whatever the virtues of choice and home schooling, trying to make a strong case against Obama because he’s not in favor of vouchers is a weak issue. If anything, a real Libertarian ought to make the strident case against public education altogether. While this is direct heresy to the PTA and teacher’s unions, it really does exemplify a resistance to this accepted norm within the context of normal public goods theory. It’s also very easy to make a case against the results of public schooling on the basis of student performance and the tax structure itself. Instead Root only takes the conservative road in this regard. A lot of the home schoolers I know are either Bible thumping gung ho Iraq apologists or uptight elite liberal naysayers.
3. Online gaming and poker enthusiasts.
This is perhaps Roots greatest effort to run afoul of the Fallacy of the Demographic. Whatever cache Root may have in the gambling community my anectodal exeprience with online gamblers is that they may only have a general sense of the outrage being perpetrated here, but little ambition to act politically as a result. The government may not have any business in this realm, but like so many efforts to limit freedom, they take the easiest targets first. Again, a national candidacy to rectify this situation will take more than one figure hammering away at it. It requires legislative resistance on all levels and an active lobby. No evidence that this is the case no matter what star Root has in Las Vegas.
4. Conservative voters. Conservative voters are just that, conservative. They will stick with the Republicans until the very end. If Root somehow thinks he can transform the most staid and trusted voter in the American electorate he should start smoking weed in order to expand his horizons a bit. At the very least the nominal or independent conservative might dare to try the Libertarian waters, but ultimately when they look at reality they will invariably vote GOP, ’nuff said.
5. Ron Paul supporters. Sorry to say it but these guys are sticking with the GOP too. Guys like Peter Schiff and Rand Paul will be the efforts that they will focus on. After Bob Barr alienated Ron Paul, any sympathy for the LP is fading fast. Root can be and should be associated with the Barr effort in this regard. Instead he claims that him and Barr have built new base. As an insider, I’d seriously question that. Most LPNY members were relieved to see the campaign over. Credit due: Root recognizes the difficulties of third party endeavors, but can’t get out the the NY Conservative Party model trap. Quoting Churchill won’t get the job done either. Bottom line: While RP supporters are generally able to parrot the libertarian message in terms of the Federal Reserve and others areas of economics, it is unlikely that they’ll take the leap into third party politics when they can simply try to take over the GOP. Until then, they are perfectly happy to work around the edges in classic pluralistic fashion, such as lobbying and general activism.
6. Young voters and college students. Maybe if you promised free weed they might make it to the polls in contravention to Obama, but this potentially idealistic group traditionally fails to perform. This is a typical newbie approach to politics and candidacies and never really works. You may get some quality individuals for the movement in terms of outreach, but this won’t work on any meaningful level.
7. Healthy and holistic living enthusiasts.
Didn’t Milstead try this on some crappy rainbow colored website ? Just because Root’s a vitamin nut once again doesn’t mean anything in the greater political consciousness. I guess we discover that Root as an online doctorate too.
8. Gun rights enthusiasts, hunters and gun owners.
Members of the LPNY have trying for years to get the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association to at least give our candidates a rating when the time comes every election cycle. I even know the President and have worked for the organization. No luck folks, they are dyed in the wool committed Republicans. Likewise I suspect the NRA behaves behind closed doors down in DC. Whatever lip service to Israel or the Founding Fathers that Root attempts to evoke here, once again fails. Gun rights folks are also happy to wallow around in the muck of pluralism that the machine demands.
9. Locally elected officials across the United States. I find it hard to believe that if I were to stumble down to my local town hall and give Wayne’s book to every official that I would get anything but blank stares. It’s shear tomfoolery to expect the shills for the two main parties to embrace a book this bad anyway. I’d be embarrassed to proffer it. Root gives a recent example of an Indianapolis citycouncilmen who in fact switched parties. If it hasn’t already happened, I suspect that he’ll be punished accordingly, rather than see his great Whig like shift that some Libertarians pine away for.
Root states at the end of the chapter;
“The Libertarian Party has so far done a poor job of reaching those voters with our message. Very few voters have ever heard a passionate, dynamic Libertarian message. That’s all about to change. This is the role I was born to play – the messenger.”
While I disagree about the dynamism of my fellow compatriots in the past (this is a common reformer tone too) it’s clear that Root is locked into a messiah like complex with regard to his own effort. This is dangerous and unhealthy for the party. If he’s the only solution I want out now. Not only doesn’t he understand the great message of our cause, he’s simultaneously trashing many of the same people that he absolutely needs in order to get his goal. One wonders what will happen to Root’s perspective when he doesn’t achieve the 2012 nomination.
All that being said, here’s some items that he might have included in the demographic effort.
A. Netroots This is a strong and passionate subset. It carried Ned Lamont in Connecticut and its something that Libertarians could do well, but don’t.
B. Immigrants Not embracing this group with the message of freedom and liberty is one of the greatest failures the LP has done to itself. As a nation of immigrants with the promise of freedom and an ever growing electorate segment in this regard, we should have people in every segment of this population. Instead we tend to be monochromatic, insular types who can’t penetrate different cultures. While this may be because of a greater urge to think tank, it needs to be addressed.
C. Taekwondo families As a member of this community I can see the vast potential to engage with people seeking to better themselves through martial arts. What better way to engage non gun self defense seeking families and individuals. This one of the most popular forms in the country. Millions could be brought into our fold.
D. The Bill Bradley Model - Successful, quiet and unassuming. Bill Bradley brought a strong message to a passionate group of Democrats in the 2000 race. I think many people can appreciate this approach over a loud and fast talking con artist type that exemplifies the average politician. It would have worked for Ruwart before the hit job and the Root feint to Barr.
No real edits again, chapter 7 next.