A vote for Sarvis is a vote for Sarvis! (Republicans are desperate)Submitted by Reggie Wanker on Sun, 11/03/2013 - 10:16
Written by Josh Walker
As Virginia’s 2013 gubernatorial race draws to a close, it appears that Republicans are in full-on meltdown mode as it becomes increasingly obvious that Ken Cuccinelli is going to lose. As is the case in most contests – political or not – the losers rack their brains desperately trying to pinpoint an external cause of their demise. Enter Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. Sarvis is fairly unknown in the realm of politics, having only run for statewide office once before; he lost. He’s been campaigning across the state in his wife’s minivan. He was not allowed in any of the debates. He is polled at garnering roughly 10% support. And he has raised less than $100,000 in campaign cash. Despite all of this, if one peruses the Internet, it becomes obvious that Republican voters and operatives are engaging in a last minute misinformation campaign against the Libertarian candidate.
Of course we all know, especially from past presidential contests, the ire that third parties can draw. Republicans and Democrats have it out for Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, respectively, to this day. As the election draws near, one will find more and more of the standard “A vote for Sarvis is a vote McAuliffe” peppering local news sites’ comments sections and even his Facebook page. The implicit premise in that phrase is presumptuous on so many levels. First, it presumes that Sarvis voters would actually vote for Cuccinelli if Sarvis was not an option. Second, it presumes that at least some Sarvis voters would not vote for McAullife. Lastly, it presumes that Sarvis voters would actually bother going to the polls if Sarvis was not on the ballot. As a recent Slate column indicates, the first two of these presumptions are highly questionable; when Sarvis is not an option on the ballot McAuliffe still leads Cuccinelli. Sarvis is drawing support from both Republican and Democratic voters. One also has to question the third presumption on the basis of the fact that neither Cuccinelli nor McAuliffe has had a favorable rating in the black for the duration of the campaign; it seems likely that at least some Sarvis voters would just stay home on Election Day if Sarvis was not on the ballot.
If the standard Republican anti-spoiler talking points weren’t enough, several Republican bloggers and operatives have taken to launching a smear campaign against Sarvis. Ben Domenech writing for The Federalist accuses Sarvis of being a “libertarian-in-name-only,” saying that he supports higher taxes, loves Obamacare, doesn’t fully embrace Austrian economics, and supports installing tracking devices in everyone’s car. As far as taxes and healthcare go, a cursory glance at the candidate’s website will show his actual positions. He supports reducing or eliminating a whole host of taxes, and supports decentralization in healthcare policy. The accusation of car trackers is a blatant distortion of a video in which Sarvis lists a whole host of potential ways that transportation could be funded more in line with the principle of user-pays (note that government trackers aren’t even mentioned). It is also a struggle to see why Austrian economics should be of prime importance. If a candidate is running on a platform of ending preferential subsidies, removing barriers to entry, and ending crony-backed, monopoly-inducing regulatory policy, then why should anyone care about what he or she thinks about Ludwig von Mises’ view of business cycles? Even if someone is so dogmatic as to think that adherence to Austrian economic is essential to libertarianism, it’s not like Cuccinelli is any sort of libertarian in this regard.
Which brings us to the strangest Cuccinelli tactic thus far: his surrogates are claiming that he is the actual libertarian in the race. Dr. Susan Berry writing for Breitbart argues that Cuccinelli should be the choice of libertarians pointing to his plan to cut personal and corporate income taxes, saying it will create an “environment that is ripe for the free market.” His plan would reduce the corporate income tax to 4% from 6% and personal income taxes to 5% from 5.75%. Apart from the fact that such a change is pro-business as opposed to pro-free-market and essentially amounts to a corporate subsidy paid for by average workers who will now pay a higher percent than their employers, Sarvis is the only candidate who has said he would like to abolish income taxes altogether. Despite information from the Republican propaganda machine to the contrary, preferential tax treatment of businesses is not a principle of the free market or libertarianism.
Cuccinelli is also parading his endorsements by Ron and Rand Paul as evidence of his libertarian bona fides. It’s hard to see how the Pauls’ endorsement of Cuccinelli is surprising; they are both Republicans after all, and Rand has explicitly rejected the notion that he is anything other than a Republican. And despite Ron Paul’s acceptance by a large portion of libertarians, many of his views can far more easily be classified as conservative Republican than libertarian. Let’s also not forgot to mention the fact that Gary Johnson (you know the 2012 Libertarian Party candidate for president) has endorsed Sarvis.
Many people want to make light of Cuccinelli’s social views, but they are arguably the strongest evidence that he is not libertarian. He supports the state’s ban on same sex marriage and expresses support for tightening restrictions on abortion. The libertarian view on same sex marriage can be complicated, but the most popular position is that the state should remove itself from the realm of recognizing relationships altogether, allowing consenting adults to enter into whatever arrangements they prefer. Support for same sex marriage is seen as the second best option; it is argued that if the state extends such recognition, it should not be discriminatory in its extension. Abortion is far more complicated, but many libertarians see it as an issue that should be decided by a woman in consultation with her physician not the state. The Libertarian Party’s official platform says as much. The issue that many Virginian’s are probably most acquainted with is Cuccinelli’s attempt to have the state’s anti-sodomy law reinstated. He argues that it is needed to help protect children from adult predators. If Cuccinelli wants to crack down on child predators, a law with that specific purpose would easily breeze through the General Assembly. Regardless of his stated intentions, the letter of the law he sought to have reinstated bans oral and anal sex between consenting adults. No libertarian would support the existence of such a law, even if it goes unenforced.
Republicans would have people believe that voting for Sarvis steals votes from Cuccinelli and gives the election to McAuliffe. The evidence just does not support that. The attempts to paint Sarvis as an authoritarian are silly and disengenious. Ken Cuccinelli is no libertarian, and any attempt to portray him as such is chicanery par excellence. A vote for Robert Sarvis is a vote for Robert Sarvis.