I had plans.
Originally, I was going to write an article about how my local City Council stepped in it once again. I was going to write about how the arguments made by both City Councilman Donald Abbott and the City of Sparks on Facebook didn’t meaningfully contradict the Reno Gazette-Journal story. No, the City Council members may not have set drink prices, but they did subcontract out the authority to do so, and how could they subcontract that authority to the Sparks Nugget, in their capacity as an event promoter, unless the city folks are implicitly claiming they have that authority themselves?
I was going to suggest that, next time around, if event promoters want to include insurance and promotion costs into their event contracts, they should include those costs into those contracts and return the right to decide prices and profits to those selling goods and services. It was going to end, approximately 2,500 words or so later, with the observation that there’s a difference between being pro-market (which has both buyers and sellers, whose rights should be protected) and being pro-business.
Then this happened.
Now, instead of writing an anodyne piece on the incompetence and naked mercantilism of my local government, I have to write about Wayne Allyn Root (please imagine me saying his middle name as if it were a slur).
I don’t want to do this. I would rather roll on a bed of angry wasps, naked and freshly shaved from head to toe lest any hair dare shield me from their stings. I would rather drink bleach cut with ammonia. I would rather move to Las Vegas. Truly, the list of things I would rather do than acknowledge the existence of that poor — no, starving — man’s version of #45 (calling him “Trump Light” would be like calling a half-empty bottle of flat club soda “light beer”) is voluminous enough to merit at least two columns of my usual length. Perhaps even three.
But no, the president of the United States of America, after petulantly cancelling a trip to Denmark because they won’t let us put Greenland on our credit card, decided to share some of Wayne’s breathless puffery with the world. This means, yet again, Wayne’s “rise” into “prominence” will be described with the usual footnote that, oh yes, he was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice-president in 2008.
Yes, America. We know. We know, and we’re sorry.
Initially, Wayne just seemed like a skilled self-promoter — which he is. Nobody is better at promoting Wayne than Wayne, and I dare anyone to disagree. After an election cycle when the Libertarian Party ran a software engineer for president, finding someone who was both able and willing to promote himself and the Libertarian Party seemed like a godsend. Besides, Bob Barr, though a nice enough guy, was as charismatically magnetic as an unbundled haystack or a pile of damp firewood. Somebody with fire and passion — or at least a pulse — needed to be on the 2008 ticket. Say what you will about Wayne, but he has that much going for him, at least.
It didn’t take long, however, for Wayne to be Wayne.
Wayne’s talent for self-promotion is the same talent that most edgy teenagers have when they want to get a thrill: say something obnoxious and get an immediate rise out of everyone. The only real difference between Wayne and a teenager seeking attention is that when he says something obnoxious, he does it with the voice and energy of a drug-stimulated carnival barker, not the sarcastic sneer of a sullen teen. This is a great approach if you want to fill airtime on Russia Today on a recurring basis (the same network that let some woman rant about Pleiaidians after a missile launch), but was considered a less promising approach at the time for those seeking a serious political future.
Wayne really wanted a serious political future.
Within the Libertarian Party, if an official-looking role was offered, he took it. He served on the Libertarian National Committee, the LP’s version of the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee. He served on the Libertarian Party Candidate Committee, the LP’s version of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or National Republican Congressional Committee. He even served as vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Nevada (the office I now hold). His unerring sense of self-promotion told him that, if he wanted to be seen as a leader within the Libertarian Party, building a serious résumé filled with leadership positions was how to do it.
It almost worked. There were just two problems: Wayne wasn’t much of a Libertarian, and Wayne was Wayne.
As a “Libertarian,” he suggested, over and over again, that the Libertarian Party should abandon social issues, like marriage equality and abandoning the Drug War — this at a time when marriage equality was clearly becoming the law of the land and skepticism of the Drug War was increasing. Instead, he recommended that the Libertarian Party should focus exclusively on business regulations and taxes at a time when businesses, like banks and auto manufacturers, were being bailed out left and right. This wasn’t political tone deafness. It was malpractice.
Meanwhile, Wayne’s harangues against “radical messaging” were always rather rich coming from someone that bought into Birtherism early, claiming during the 2008 election that he didn’t know “a single classmate who ever knew Obama at Columbia.” He also repeatedly called Obama “Marxist-in-Chief,” a rich accusation against a tepid Democratic president whose policies were consistently more conservative and more consistently in favor of free market principles than Richard Nixon.
By 2012, it was clear that Wayne Root desperately wanted to be the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate. Using his positions within the LP, he pushed to host the National Convention in Las Vegas. In interviews, he started introducing himself as a presidential candidate. Unfortunately for him, the Libertarian Party decided it would much rather have a slightly goofy former governor from New Mexico representing us than a carnival barker hawking conspiracy theorists on Russian state television. It didn’t take long for him to throw a hissy fit and announce that he was leaving the Libertarian Party and supporting Mitt Romney.
Since then, that SOB (“Son Of a Butcher,” he claims with a complimentary grain of salt) has been busy.
It turns out that it’s far more fun and profitable (first and foremost, Wayne goes where he gets paid) to spout unhinged nonsense in public than it is to try and be a moderately serious political figure. This is especially true when you can find some rich patron to fund your megaphone for your own perverse personal amusement. After Wayne groundlessly claimed that the Oct. 1 shooting was the product of Muslim terrorism, would Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Review-Journal have found Wayne’s op-ed columns entertaining enough to pay for — if the Oct. 1 shooting happened on a Sands property? We’ll never know. All we do know is that building a noxious conspiracy theory on the dead bodies lying near a competing casino was not a sufficiently strong reason to yank Root’s publishing privileges.
I’ll have to remember that if I ever cross the line here.
When Wayne left the Libertarian Party, my immediate thought was that I was so glad he was finally someone else’s problem. I thought that the Republican Party, for all its faults, had little tolerance for Wayne’s brand of male bovine excrement. I thought that the Republican Party, for all its faults, had the good sense to keep someone like Wayne several arms’ lengths away from any positions of actual power and influence.
I was wrong. Now he’s America’s problem. It took longer than it should have, but the Libertarian Party, slowly and painfully, passed him out like the kidney stone that he is. If we can do it, America can as well.
We better hurry, though. There’s a lot of waste building up behind him and it’s about ready to poison us all.
David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During that time, he has blogged intermittently on his personal blog, as well as the Libertarian Party of Nevada blog, and ran for office twice as a Libertarian candidate. He serves on the Executive Committee for both his state and county Libertarian Party chapters. He is the father of two sons and an IT professional. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidColborne or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.