It's not easy to change your identification. I'm the guy who wrote the best-selling book "Millionaire Republican." My political identification has always been Republican- literally since birth. Just as I've always been a S.O.B. (Son of a Butcher). Yes my dad was a butcher. But not just any old butcher. David Root was a Jewish Republican butcher from Brownsville, Brooklyn- now that's unique! Dad was my inspiration in life- and he will always be my hero. (He died in 1992). In 1964, at the age of three, wrapped in his strong arms, he had me passing out political campaign brochures for Barry Goldwater. My father loved his Republican party and instilled that love in me.
"Son," he would say, "When the Democrats try to knock the Republicans for being the party of the rich, they have it all wrong. The GOP is not the party of the rich. The GOP is the party of anyone who wants to be rich...and desires the freedom to make it happen."
That creed has guided my lifelong support of the Republican Party. And while it's still true today that the GOP is more supportive of freedom as compared to big-government Democrats (but only a little bit more); and it's still true that the GOP is more supportive of small businessmen like me (but only a little bit more); and it's still true that the GOP is more supportive of lower tax rates, so that the taxpayers who take the risks and create the jobs get to keep more of their own money so they'll create again (but only a little bit more); and, it's still true that on most economic issues Republicans are still better than Democrats (but only a little bit more); the fact is that the differences between Republicans and Democrats are narrowing. For example, how can it be that Republicans under George W. Bush expanded government more than under any modern President? Or that Republicans under President George W. Bush expanded spending to the point where our treasured tax cuts will almost certainly be eliminated to reduce the now expanded budget deficit.
Of even more concern to my Republican roots and sensibilities is the fact that on a number of non-economic, social issues I find Republicans to be even worse than Democrats. The fact is, today's Republicans leaders have moved away from personal freedoms and the Libertarian conservative ideals of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan that I, and millions of long time Republicans so cherish. When it comes to issues like abortion, gay rights, stem cell funding, assisted suicide (think Terri Schiavo), online gaming, censorship of television - the GOP is actually in favor of big government moving into our bedrooms, telling us what to do in our own homes, what entertainment we are allowed to choose on our own computers, and what to watch on our own TV sets. Democrats, of course, aren't much better with their Big Brother views on issues such as seat belt laws, smoking restrictions, and gun control. The truth is, despite the fact that voters have said again and again that they want smaller, less intrusive government, and more individual freedom, it's difficult to find a politician to vote for who is a true believer in Libertarian rights. Unfortunately both parties now embrace Big Brother at its worst- looking out first for their own vested interests at the expense of what I value most- MY INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM!
The Democrat version of big government is all about limiting our economic freedoms. Democrats want to tell us what to do with our own money. They are continually pilfering our bank accounts in the name of "fairness." But fairness has nothing to do with it. In reality it's the Democrats attempt to steal from the rich and successful, in order to bribe the poor to vote Democrat (by keeping them dependent on Democratic politicians and big government handouts). Republicans, on the other hand are for big government when it comes to our bedrooms. They want to step all over the constitution, imposing their moral views by controlling what we can and cannot do in our personal lives. While Democrats support Big Brother in order to win over low-income voters and extreme left-wing activists, Republicans support Big Brother to win over extreme right-wing religious voters.
Some choice that leaves us, huh? A cynic might question if either party actually believes in any of this, or are they are simply willing to violate our rights and destroy our freedoms in order to amass enough special interest votes to win elections? I believe the latter is true, simply because I find it hard to believe that any intelligent human being could possibly think bigger government is better- hey, just call me a cynic!
I can't stand big government or government bureaucrats whose true function is not to help me, but only to protect their own vested interest. Likewise, I can't stand liberal animosity towards businesses like Wal*Mart that create millions of decent jobs; liberals trying to steal my property in the name of eminent domain; or liberals destroying jobs and trampling the rights of small businessmen in the name of a rare desert cockroach. But I also can't stand, over-reaching laws and governmental intrusion into areas that unnecessarily erode every American's personal rights and freedoms- like abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, assisted suicide, medicinal marijuana laws, or the new Prohibition- banning online poker and gaming. That wonderful new law by the way has little or nothing to do with morality. The ban on online gaming just happens to carve out exemptions for online horserace gambling and online lotteries (which produce hundreds of millions in tax revenues for state governments). So once again we have more proof that government isn't out to help people- only to protect its own interests and profits. And if banning online gaming just happens to add a few million votes from religious extremists who want online gaming banned for morality reasons- well then that's one heck of a bonus. Let's just declare Prohibition and put all the credible, legal, licensed gaming web sites out of business, and overnight hand control of online gaming to fly-by-night frauds, criminals and organized crime. Smart, huh? So perhaps government bureaucrats and politicians claiming to be against gambling on morality grounds were actually taking bribes (or perhaps large legal "contributions") from the Mafia? This new version of Prohibition should be renamed "The Sopranos Support Bill." Doesn't it just make you sleep well at night knowing your government is out to protect you?
The fact is there is no longer much difference between the two major parties. However, since nothing is more important to me than my economic freedom and my right to keep more of my own hard-earned money, I'll always support Republicans over Democrats- if that's my only choice. And I'll continue to write checks to select Republican politicians who still hold the Libertarian limited government ideals of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan sacred. The thing is that over the last couple of years I've come to realize that isn't my only choice. I've had what many would call a cathartic experience. I call it "My Libertarian Awakening." I have no doubt that both Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan are turning over in their graves at the big government agenda of today's GOP (big government expansion, growth of earmarks, growth of government spending, trampling of the rights and freedoms of the individual). I believe neither Goldwater nor Reagan would today call himself a Republican. They'd both label themselves as Libertarians. And amazingly, that's what I now call myself. I have to pinch myself when I say it out loud - but yes, I am a Libertarian. Perhaps a Republican-leaning Libertarian, but nonetheless a Libertarian.
Yes, I still think that when it comes to fiscal issues (money), the GOP is a far better alternative than bleeding-heart, do-gooder, socialist-leaning Liberal Democrats- if that's our only choice. It's just that I no longer believe that "Republican" and "Democrat" are the only viable choices for American voters. For the past 20 years- virtually my entire adult life- I've been America's most successful oddsmaker and prognosticator. My accurate predictions and gut instincts have made me wealthy, famous, and in-demand as a TV media expert. I've appeared on all the major networks: ABC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, ESPN, Spike, etc. My political predictions have been even more accurate than my sports predictions. I picked George W. Bush to win re-election in the days before the 2004 Presidential election, when most every major political pollster and pundit predicted a Kerry victory. My exact prediction was Bush by 30 to 35 electoral votes and 3 points popular- the exact final margins of victory. For the 2006 election, I predicted the GOP would lose control of Congress many months before any political experts came to that same conclusion (the week of the Teri Schiavo government intrusion was what I call the epicenter of the decline of GOP power).
Today I will make a much more powerful prediction- one that literally screams from my gut, and from every cell of my body. There is a political revolution brewing. The two party system is failing. Never before in modern American political history has the time been more ripe for a third party to successfully do battle with the two major parties. Americans are no longer "connecting" or identifying as Republicans or Democrats. One size no longer fits all. I believe a majority of Americans are exactly like me- fiscally conservative, but socially moderate to progressive. Only one party fits that description and it is neither Republican nor Democrat- IT IS LIBERTARIAN!
The number one goal of Libertarians is to drastically reduce the size and scope of government. Do American voters agree? After the 2006 election, a new poll proved that a vast majority (you might call it "the Silent Majority") of Americans supports smaller government- and more rights and freedoms for the individual. Yet this same group of voters obviously voted for Democratic Party candidates in 2006, handing them majorities in the Senate and House. What a contradiction! The Democrats don't support this "Silent Majority." The Democrats have nothing in common with this majority. They do not think like you or me. Barack Obama (my Columbia College Class of '83 classmate) certainly doesn't think like you. His political ratings as a Senator (as ranked by liberal organizations) rank him to the left of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. No Democrat with views as liberal as Barack Obama has ever been elected President of the United States. Presidential candidates that have possessed anything close to Obama's liberal leanings have all lost in landslides- McGovern, Carter, Dukakis, Mondale. America is a "center right" country. Republicans have dominated American politics at all levels for so long because they have been the closest party to "center right." What I have come to realize of late is that the Republican Party has lost the right to that claim. Today, the true definition of "center right" is Libertarian.
Democrats like Hillary "I want to socialize medicine" Clinton; Barack "I'm to the Left of Ted Kennedy" Obama; John "I'm a Trial Lawyer who Has Made Millions by Suing Doctors" Edwards; or John "American Soldiers are Murderers and Baby Killers" Kerry; do not think anything like that majority of Americans that want smaller government. These bleeding heart, socialist-at-heart Democrat Presidential hopefuls actually think the very opposite of a majority of Americans on important issues like downsizing government, reducing spending, cutting entitlements, cutting taxes, eliminating the death tax, protecting the rights of property owners, affirmative action, tort reform, gun control...the list goes on and on. American voters are "center right" on all these crucial issues. Up until now, the Silent Majority that supports smaller government had no other choice but to vote for the GOP- that same Republican Party that is only slightly more Libertarian on fiscal and economic issues, yet in some cases even more pro-Big Brother than Democrats on social issues. Some choice, huh?
But I now believe that our voting choices are expanding in a dramatic way. The time has come for change- and for choice. I believe most Americans are now open to voting for a credible, common-sense third party candidate- who can explain, debate, and defend a fiscally conservative/socially moderate position. If this lifelong "Millionaire Republican" is ready to make the move, I know, without a doubt, that millions of other Americans are ready to make the change as well. Politics as usual is not working. The "one size fits all" structure of our two major political parties just doesn't feel right anymore.
Longtime Republican Congressman Bob Barr recently announced his defection to the Libertarian Party. When I talk about my own political awakening, I am shocked, amazed, and pleased at how many of my fiscal conservative/socially moderate Republican (and even a few Democrat) friends now openly admit to me that they now call themselves Libertarians. I sense something big happening in the heartland. Lord knows it hasn't reached the tone-deaf ears of the D.C. establishment or Eastern media. But the train has left the station and it's barreling down on the traditional 2-party system and the infamous "Beltway Insiders." Ross Perot, Jesse "The Body" Ventura and even Kinky Friedman have all paved the way for a serious third party candidate on a national level. As Bob Dylan would say, "The times, they are a-changin'." The window of opportunity has opened for the Libertarian Party to become a competitive mainstream party.
As a very wise man once said, "Timing Is Not Important- it's everything!" It's time for the Libertarian Party to stop "hiding its light under a bushel," take its next growth step and prove it can play with the big boys. I'm confident that when voters know there's an alternative- a SERIOUS winnable alternative- a majority of Americans will experience (as I have) "a Libertarian awakening." I've made my decision- I've always been a leader, not a follower. I will continue to vote for, support and contribute to Republican candidates with Libertarian ideals and principles. But I've decided to join the Libertarian Party as a "lifetime member." And I've begun work on my new book tentatively titled, "The Conscience of a Libertarian." Yes in fact, the times they are a-changin'. I believe that like my hero Barry Goldwater's book "The Conscience of a Conservative" my new book will have the power to inspire and energize a national movement. And spur the "inner Libertarian" to come out in millions of American voters who are tired and disgusted with the two party system, but just don't know it yet, or are afraid to admit it.
Stay tuned for coming announcements as to how I will choose to play a major role in this growing Libertarian political revolution and how you can join it too. But I will announce my first step. Many Libertarians from across the country have called or emailed me in the past few weeks to encourage me to consider becoming the Libertarian Party Presidential nominee in 2008. The Libertarian Party has now invited me to participate in their Presidential Panel at The Libertarian State Leadership Alliance Conference in Orlando, Florida on March 18th - and I have accepted. I have a feeling that a great journey is about to begin. I hope you'll join me on that journey.