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A Libertarian star who drives Libertarians crazy

Alexander Zaitchik profiles Wayne Allyn Root, a flashy businessman who won the Libertarian Party's 2008 nomination for vice president (a compromise after he lost the presidential nomination to Bob Barr) and parlayed it into a book deal and role as a frequent guest on Fox News and the Fox Business Channel. That irritates long-time Libertarian Party activists who think Root spends too much time promoting himself instead of promoting the party, and don't see him being faithful to the party's hardcore stances or (generally) anti-war history. Root pushes back:

“If I’m not on the right track,” said Root when asked about his Libertarian critics, “how can you explain Fox News, a conservative TV network, giving TV shows to Glenn Beck, Jon Stossel and Judge Andrew Napolitano — all strong libertarian thinkers? How can you explain the success of Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Sharron Angle? How can you explain [my coming] out of nowhere to become the 2008 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nominee, and now becoming an overnight media sensation on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC — doing 20 to 30 radio interviews a week across the country?”

That's won't satisfy activists, but it raises the question of why the Libertarian Party hasn't benefited from the rise of the tea party movement, where respect for the GOP is grudging at best. It hasn't helped that Barr, the media-savvy 2008 nominee, has irritated activists since running that race. But that shouldn't matter if there's a mass of small government activists out there, angry at both parties. There's a natural constituency for Libertarians; it's just that tea party activists are more comfortable in the GOP, and worried that splitting their votes would help Democrats.

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Libertarians  
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