Next week, Virginia voters will head to the ballot box to vote in this year’s gubernatorial election. It features Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. However, libertarians should just abstain Nov. 5.
According to Real Clear Politics, McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), maintains a comfortable 10-point lead over his GOP rival, the Virginia Attorney General. What is generating headlines is the emergence of the Libertarian nominee, who is hoping to crack double-digit support in the latest polls, which would allow him to appear in the debates – right now he is at around the eight and nine percent mark.
With a libertarian in the race, it should certainly make the libertarian base enthusiastic, right? Well, not so much. Although Sarvis is running under the Libertarian Party banner, he appears to be a libertarian in name only – much like some of the RINOs presently in office.
Sarvis isn’t new to the political arena: in 2011, Sarvis ran for the state senate as a Republican, but lost 62 percent to 36 percent against Democrat Dick Saslaw. In an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC, he explained that he left the Republican Party because he “got tired of having to deal with the social ideologies and the lack of principals intact in regulatory policy. I don't think the GOP can be trusted on either issue and we need something different.”
At the present time, Sarvis supports gun rights, drug policy reform (he doesn’t mention if he supports or opposes taxing cannabis), school choice, same-sex marriage and right-to-work legislation. He also opposes the expansion of the car tax, occupational license tax, etc.
Essentially, these seem like libertarian stances, but when one gets to the meat of the issues, he describes himself as a pro-business, socially liberal moderate political hopeful – note: libertarians are not pro-business or socially liberal, but rather pro-free market, social libertarians.
Virginia maintains one of the lowest tax rates in the country – the goal of most libertarians is to have a zero percent tax base – but Sarvis has noted that instead of lowering taxes he wants to find savings through the means of additional efficiency. Why not slash the size and scope of government and reduce taxes at the same time?
Sarvis has also suggested that the Mother of States should institute a vehicle-miles driven tax to fund infrastructure in Virginia. It has been reported that he would be in favor of higher gas taxes too.
When he was interviewed on the left-leaning television network last week, Sarvis did not explicitly oppose expanding the Medicaid program. Cuccinelli appears to be the only person in the race to say it’s unconstitutional.
George Mason University is known for its free-market economics program (see Walt Williams). This is where Sarvis attained his economics degree. However, he doesn’t adhere to the principles of Austrian Economics, which is usually what libertarians promote.
Here is what Sarvis said in his interview with Reason: “I’m not into the whole Austrian type, strongly libertarian economics, I like more mainstream economics and would have been happy to go elsewhere.”
Wait does he mean “mainstream economics” that has gotten us into this current mess and continues to cause more problems?
Indeed, this is only the tip of the iceberg for Sarvis. If Sarvis wants to be a centrist, moderate or socially liberal then he should run as an Independent and not under the libertarian banner. By running as a libertarian, he only dilutes the important messages of liberty, freedom, free markets and non-intervention. He discredits those who run as libertarians or even libertarian Republicans.
It’s sad to see that an establishment Republican seems to be more libertarian than an actual Libertarian candidate – Cuccinelli isn’t the best candidate for libertarians either, though Ron Paul did endorse him. However, S.M. Oliva of Reason defends Sarvis by writing that he’s trying to win an election and not run for head of the Mises Institute.
“Some small-l libertarians may balk at the apparent lack of ideological fire in Sarvis' campaign. There has been grumbling over Sarvis' comments to Reason criticizing Austrian economics, for example. But it's important to distinguish the Libertarian Party from the larger libertarian movement. The function of a political party is to win elections. Sarvis isn't running for president of the Mises Institute. If his campaign opens the door for other libertarians to compete—and yes, win—local elections in the future, then his efforts here will not have been in vain.”
Here’s an important question: shouldn’t libertarians win based on principle and their issues rather than appearing to be a centrist just to win an election? Former Texas Republican Congressman and bestselling author Dr. Paul won numerous congressional elections by actually adhering to libertarian concepts and initiated a national libertarian movement.
Whatever Sarvis’s intentions might be, for Virginia libertarians, stay home on Election Day and wait for an actual libertarian to run in the state. Here’s a way to definitely find out if he or she is a libertarian: quotes Rothbard, Hayek, Mises or Hazlitt.