Will Virginia Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Sarvis Crack Open the Corrupt Democrat/Republican Duopoly?

Robert SarvisRonald BaileyLibertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis' campaign slogan: "Open-Minded and Open for Business" has to be one of the most copacetic I've ever encountered. If Sarvis can clear the 10 percent electoral benchmark that would give the Libertarian Party a line on the ballots of the Old Dominion through 2021, offering Virginians a way to get beyond the intellectually bankrupt so-called major parties. The Danville Register and Bee summed up the situation well in its editorial endorsement of Sarvis:

Both the Democrats and Republicans failed to come up with good gubernatorial candidates this year. If we were to endorse either McAuliffe or Cuccinelli, we would be playing their game. "If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got," the saying goes.

Robert Sarvis offers a real alternative this year, a break from the two-party paradigm that has not served us well.

As a Libertarian, Sarvis favors restraints on the size and scope of government. We’re comfortable with that.

"I realized that the Republican Party, at least in Virginia, in the current era, is not a good vehicle for liberty candidates," Sarvis told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in August. "Republicans are very strident on personal issues. When they talk about liberty, they don’t mean any personal issues, there is very little respect for personal autonomy.

"And on economic issues, it’s almost like they don’t believe in what they talk about. They talk about limited government, but they are just as bad as the other party at cronyism, raising taxes and growing government."

If there is one knock on Sarvis’ record, it is this: He has never held elected office. If he wins on Tuesday, he would have to navigate a swamp of partisan politics in Richmond.

But as a conservative, he would be a political kindred spirit with many of the Republicans in the General Assembly. We believe he could be more than just a novelty candidate in 2013, but the kind of governor who inspires confidence from Virginians and respect from other members of the General Assembly.

What we won’t get from Sarvis is a big-government agenda. In a year when so many other things have gone wrong, a young man with a new way of looking at our old problems is just what the Old Dominion needs. We’re not interested in what Robert Sarvis can do for the Libertarian Party; we’re interested in what this young, intelligent and highly-motivated family man can do to change the two-party trap we’ve gotten ourselves into.

I'm off to the polls in a bit to cast my ballot for a candidate who offers more than the usual lesser-of-two-evils electoral choice.

For more background, see S.M. Oliva's Reason.com excellent profile of Sarvis here.

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  • ||

    I've heard that voting for this guy would be "insane."

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Yup.
    Just please, when they bring the straight jacket for me, make sure it isn't green or yellow. Does terrible things to my skin tone.

  • Tonio||

    "Strait". Think of Dire Straits (or dire straits).

  • The Late P Brooks||

    IMPURE.

    BURN HIM.

  • sarcasmic||

    So what if Libertarians will get on the ballot! This is the most important election of our lifetime! Can't throw your vote away! You must vote for the Republican! Most important election! Ever! Until the next one! But right now it's the most important election ever and libertarians must vote for the Republican! Or the world will end! Spoilers! Every last one of you!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Ron, you're throwing your vote away. I hope you'll be happy when the democrats are in charge.

  • sarcasmic||

    Most important election of our lifetime!

  • John||

    Until t he next one, then it is number 2.

  • Tonio||

    "throwing your vote away"

    It's his vote to use as he pleases. That it won't help you achieve your desired outcome doesn't mean it's thrown away.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    No.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If there is one knock on Sarvis’ record, it is this: He has never held elected office. If he wins on Tuesday, he would have to navigate a swamp of partisan politics in Richmond.

    Is this Ron Bailey speaking, or part of the newspaper quote? For whatever reason, quoted material in HnR posts does not reveal itself in formatting, on my computer.

    I understand the notion of "new blood" being thwarted at every turn by the establishmentarian infrastructure, but I'm willing to take that risk.

  • Loki||

    It was part of the newspaper quote.

    Personally I don't look at not having held elective office as a knock on someone, I look at it as a positive.

  • John||

    I don't see how that is a knock either. I think it would be for President. President requires a lot of understanding of government and politics. But governor? No way.

  • Tonio||

    That might be a valid criticism if the candidate was running for a legislative position where you have to navigate chamber rules, committees, etc. But that's also like saying don't elect anyone as governor who has never been a governor or mayor.

  • John||

    I am still waiting for an answer on the millage tax issue. Does Sarvis support such? And if so how did the L party ever allow itself to embrace such an awful idea?

    I honestly can't think of a worse idea than the government putting some kind of electronic device on my car to track anything about what I do. I don't care how "efficient" you claim such a system would be or how much you swear it wouldn't be abused. I just don't want it. It is none of the government's business how many miles I drive and even if it were I wouldn't want them being able to track anything I do 24/7, I don't care if they paid me to do it.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    A mileage tax is pretty close to a user fee for the public roads. Sure there are private roads and sure there's plenty of out-of-state driving going on, but I'd bet at least 80% of the miles on VA-plated cars on average are logged in Virginia. It wouldn't have to be more intrusive than reporting the odometer reading every year when you get new tabs and paying a fee then. They already make you report this when you sign the title over. It would seem that the tracker is only necessary if you demand 100% accountability for every mile - which you won't get anyway - or want to ensure that only in-state miles are logged - which I doubt is the case.

    SLD, but there are worse tax ideas and there are decent ways to execute this one in theory.

  • John||

    It wouldn't have to be more intrusive than reporting the odometer reading every year when you get new tabs and paying a fee then.

    And how do you plan to make sure I am telling the truth? Make me show up to the government and let them read it? Fuck that. It is my car and I don't want them looking at it. And of course we will also then have to have laws that make sure I don't roll it back so we can have more criminals.

    Libertarianism is not about the market or efficiency. It is about freedom and autonomy. Pursuing those things usually means advocating for a market solution which is also generally the most efficient. But those are all means to the end of freedom or benefits of freedom. They are not ends in themselves. If being efficient in our tax system means violating people's privacy, then we will just have to live with inefficiency. I don't see how anyone but the worst technocrat could think this is a good idea.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Affirming the number under penalty of perjury seems to keep a lot of people honest right now in other fields. For a lot of people just the idea that someone might discover their lie is enough to keep them honest - see the change scene in Clerks for example.

    If you don't need enforcement to be immediate, there's always that report when you sell the car. Eventually most people sign their title over to a buyer with an affirmation of the mileage on it. If they lie on that affidavit, the buyer will raise the issue. If they're honest there but lied every year before, they'll have a hell of a tax bill due suddenly.

  • John||

    And you know I drove those miles in this state as opposed to out of state how? Your system isn't even any more fair than gas taxes. And further, my wear and tear on the roads. If I have a light car, I am going to put much less wear on the roads than someone with a heavier car even if I drive more miles.

    There is no way to perfectly tax everyone for their use of the roads. Any system is going to charge some too much and others too little. You might as well charge tolls or a gas tax and move on. Tracking people's mileage does nothing but open up a new avenue for governmental abuse.

    Again, no libertarian should support such a tax.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Holy shit, John, it's like you're not even reading. I said up front that it wasn't a 100% solution. In fact I said implicitly that it was probably about an 80% solution - though if other jurisdictions go for it too the overlaps will probably cancel each other out mostly. With the trend toward fuel efficiency - and even the non-use of petroleum fuel by the car itself - there will have to be an alternate source of funding for roads if roads are to continue to be publicly built (SLD, but let's face it - they will be).

    And you have to be pretty paranoid if you're worried about them knowing the number of miles you drive in a year. They already know where you live, they already know where you work, they already know how much you make, they already know what specific car you drive and they have it tagged with a number. It's pretty stupid that this is your line in the sand. My proposal tells them nothing about where you drove.

  • John||

    Why give them any information when doing so doesn't result in any advantage? A mileage tax is no more efficient than a gas tax. People just think it is because they like numbers and math. But it is not any better or more efficient than a gas tax. If I own a really heavy car, I am putting more wear per mile than you are, but that won't be reflected in my tax.

    No tax is perfect.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Affirming the number under penalty of perjury seems to keep a lot of people honest right now in other fields. For a lot of people just the idea that someone might discover their lie is enough to keep them honest - see the change scene in Clerks for example.

    If you don't need enforcement to be immediate, there's always that report when you sell the car. Eventually most people sign their title over to a buyer with an affirmation of the mileage on it. If they lie on that affidavit, the buyer will raise the issue. If they're honest there but lied every year before, they'll have a hell of a tax bill due suddenly.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    +1 double post tax

  • Protagoronus||

    Lots of Libertarian arguement for mileage fees as a replacement for gas tax:
    http://www.cato.org/blog/end-g.....les-tax-no
    O'Toole does try to address the privacy issues (page 12 http://www.cato.org/sites/cato...../PA695.pdf is a good starting point)

    Privacy needs to be taking into account first if any of these are implemented, but it seems possible to do this well.

  • John||

    Those arguments may be made by Libertarians, but they are not libertarian arguments. Who cares if they are efficient if they violate your privacy? Libertarians isn't about "efficiency" or "fairness", it is about freedom and individual autonomy. So privacy trumps efficiency just like it trumps safety in the law enforcement context.

    Privacy needs to be taking into account first if any of these are implemented, but it seems possible to do this well.

    Only if you trust the government not to abuse the system. Since when did Libertarians trust the government not to abuse its power?

    Beyond that, the government knowing exactly how many miles I have driven is an invasion of my privacy. Why is that any business of theirs? They want me to pay for the roads I drive on, fine, they can tax me. But letting them know something that detailed about me is not worth whatever gain we might get in "efficiency" or "fairness". I will take a gas tax thank you.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I think you can make a libertarian case for a mileage tax. As long as it's self reported. And you still need a warrant to look at my odometer. And I keep all my fifth amendment rights. And you don't impose any record extra record keeping on me. And obviously, putting a bug on my car so you always know where I am is right out the window.

    So it probably wouldn't be very useful for actually raising any money. But it could be done.

  • Protagoronus||

    *argument.... *taken

    back to the coffee machine for me

  • Tonio||

    There is a discussion of this issue at the end of the other Sarvis thread earlier today.

  • Protagoronus||

    If you vote for him, you are a culture warrior, because you are not picking one of the teams participating in the cuture war.

  • John||

    Yes. Isn't his main argument against the R candidate have to do with the culture war?

    Maybe you vote for him because you are a partisan L voter and always vote L no matter what. But if you are not that and would vote D or R, why L this time? It is pretty much all over culture right?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I find it interesting that the R Pauls have come out and campaigned for the Cooch. Probably garnering 2016 party support.

  • ||

    That's definitely part of it. Really, it is about showing that they are 'party men' and sticking it to an L candidate. Considering that Cooch isn't much of a moderate, it makes sense that they would pick him as one to back.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If I'm going to throw away my vote, it's going to be on a former prostitute.

  • Mencken Sense||

    When did Terry McAuliffe go off the game?

  • John||

    Ron,

    It is not going to break any duopoly. If McAuliffe wins today and the Republicans conclude that it was because they lost the L vote, then they can run a guy who is with the Ls on the culture war next time. But when they do that SOCONs will stay home and they will still lose.

    Maybe if things are really desperate the SOCONs might come out for one election. But eventually they will get tired of being told to fuck off just like the Libertarians grew tired of it and they will go third party or just not vote.

    Now maybe there are enough Dem voters who would shift to R to make up for that. But I doubt that. How many people who are not already voting L or R really agree with the R or L message on economics? Some but I doubt if it would be enough to make up for the SOCONS who leave.

    Long term I don't see how you hold the coalition together in a state like Virginia without the culture war going off the political radar. But I don't see that happening. Too many people on both sides feel too strongly about it.

  • Raston Bot||

    VA's nearly done. Too much Federal expansion and indoctrination of economic intervention. There was some pushback with the eminent domain amendment but the right-to-farm reform was blocked and is being watered down by the local govts who love to control through zoning.

  • John||

    Virginia seems to be divided into three groups. The hardcore Dems in the NOVA burbs and Richmond and the Tidewater, the SOCON republican voters out in the country and a few Libertarianish social liberals who reject Dem economics.

    The last two groups if they were united could still beat the first, especially with a really horrible Dem candidate like this one. But, the last two groups are never going to agree on the culture war. And the more Dem the state gets, the more the state government is going to antagonize the SOCONs on culture issues and the more militant they are going to get about those issues further dividing the coalition.

    I don't see how you fix that.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If one believes (as I do) in fee-for-service government, and also believes in it as a "libertarian" way to fund and operate and identify those functions of the government people put a true value on, a mileage fee for roads is in theory a valid notion. Further, opening a conceptual examination of the whole idea of fee-for-service is beneficial.

    Imposed in practice, using gps logging, eye-in-the-sky tracking of everyone's travel is not acceptable.

    I also believe in transparent and obvious costs; paying at the pump, and watching the little numbers go whirring around, makes the cost of driving evident in real time. Getting a bill after the fact (annually? monthly?) does not.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Maybe a running meter on the dash?

  • Tonio||

    The little numbers also whir around in full time on your odometer. As I said on that other thread, I could tolerate a system based on annual odometer check, but not one based on GPS or any other similar tracking.

    Also, as noted on the other thread, a mileage tax would treat all vehicles equally; electric and natural gas vehicles skate the gas tax.

  • John||

    But an annual odometer check is no more fair or efficient than a gas tax. So why do it? Better to just pay the gas tax and avoid the hassle of having Big Brother read your odometer every year.

  • GILMORE||

    Will Virginia Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Sarvis Crack Open the Corrupt Democrat/Republican Duopoly?

    No.

    Thanks for playing! Come again.

  • XM||

    Didn't Gary Johnson get less than 5% of the vote in VA? If Romney got all the libertarian votes, he still would have lost. I would be stunned out of my mind if Sarvis got 10%.

    Sarvis will lose. Cuccinelli will probably lose. Chris Christie will win BIG. Hey, that's the guy who said the libertarianism is running amok in the GOP. What kind of lesson will that teach the GOP?

    The fun question is - Is Christie going to win because he's sort of moderate on social issues, or because he rejects limited government? Now that's a fun question.

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