Let’s face it. Rob Sarvis is a spoiler for Ken Cuccinelli. He will not win, nor will his campaign do anything to establish a permanently viable third party in Virginia. Unless those inclined to vote for him come to their senses, the only practical accomplishment Sarvis will have will be to elect Terry McAuliffe.
It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ll be the first to admit that the GOP has done precious little in recent years to live up to its stated principles–principles which are, with a few exceptions, largely in line with mainstream libertarian thought. Sarvis himself is a disillusioned former Republican.
But the right way to fix that isn’t by electing liberal Democrats like Terry McAuliffe. Instead, as my colleague Brian Reynolds noted last week, libertarians should follow the example of Rand Paul and other libertarians who have worked to change the GOP from within. Clearly there is going to be a lot of diversity of opinion within a large political party, but together those who identify with the conservative party (i.e., the GOP) can defeat those who identify with the liberal party. When we’re divided, everyone loses.
So, here are the top three reasons libertarians should vote for Cuccinelli, not Rob Sarvis.
1. SARVIS DRAINS VOTES FROM CUCCINELLI
I’ve heard from some Sarvis supporters that Sarvis draws votes from across the political spectrum, and I’m sure that’s right. But what is more accurate to say is that Sarvis draws overwhelmingly from those people who are focused on limited government, individual liberty, and adherence to the Constitution.
This sense is borne out in recent polling. As visible in the snapshot below of poll averages from the Huffington Post, the gains made by Sarvis have a direct negative correlation with Cuccinelli’s poll numbers.
We know from past experiences that third party pre-election poll numbers always overstate support, as most voters ultimately decide in the voting booth not to waste their vote on a candidate who will lose. But still, this kind of a draw away from Cuccinelli’s core support could be very damaging. Which leads to reason number 2.
2. THE BUCKLEY RULE FOR LIBERTARIANS
William F. Buckley once famously said his rule in deciding for whom he should cast his vote was to vote for the most rightward viable candidate, the most conservative candidate who could win. I propose the Buckley Rule For Libertarians: vote in the general election for the most libertarian candidate who has a snowball’s chance of winning. After the election, work within the major parties to move their policies and focuses to become more in line with libertarian thinking, but at the voting booth don’t sacrifice your vote on the altar of ideological purity.
Ken Cuccinelli is the most libertarian candidate with a chance of winning. To be sure, there are some issues that some libertarians disagree with him on (e.g., marriage), but let’s not forget this is the man who was the first state-level plaintiff in federal court against Obamacare. He’s the guy who has a record of fighting against federal overreach, be it via HHS or EPA. He’s a conservative crime fighter who recognizes that our system puts too many people in jail for too long. He’s made a career out of seeking more limited government, and greater individual liberty. Is he the Italian-American Ron Paul? No, but he most certainly is the most libertarian-leaning major party candidate we’ve ever had in Virginia.
3. MCAULIFFE IS AWFUL
I won’t waste too much time on this one. I assume for a libertarian/conservative audience I needn’t do much to convince you that Terry McAuliffe is just about the American antithesis of the ideal libertarian candidate. But here’s another angle you may not have considered.If McAuliffe wins, he strengthens Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidential race in 2016. Virginia would have a sitting governor who has, to date, raised over $400 million for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and who could as governor marshal significant resources for Hillary in Virginia.
So, in addition to being a partner of the Obama administration in overbearing environmental and economic regulations, including the expansion and entrenchment of Obamacare, a victory for McAuliffe means a tougher road to the White House for libertarian favorite Rand Paul.
Don’t waste your vote in protest.