Last night, the Board of Directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia voted to remove two of their members from their ranks, Vice Chairman Steven Latimer and At-Large member Joshua Huffman. In separate photographs both Latimer and Huffman were shown wearing shirts for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor. Earlier in the year, the RLC-VA voted to endorse Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate.
Although I cannot fault the RLC too much for their decision, given that it is the “Republican” Liberty Caucus after all, I did fight against my expulsion from the group. If you remember, Ron Paul himself ran as a Libertarian back in 1988 and spoke favorably about that party during his talk in Lexington, VA in January of this year. Would they similarly condemn him? However, given that one replacement for Stephen and me happened to be on the call where the vote was to take place, there was little doubt in my mind how it would go. For the record, I had been a part of their board since July of 2012.
For those who have read my piece entitled “Joining Team Sarvis”, you will note that even though I do have a few policy disagreements with Ken Cuccinelli, my major complaints centered on the tactics of Cuccinelli’s campaign rather than the candidate. In good conscience, I could not support their exceedingly negative campaign and their attempts to silence Sarvis, a legitimate candidate on the November ballot. Some liberty-minded folks claim that the Cuccinelli negativity is simply in response to McAuliffe’s negativity, but I must reject that argument. Two wrongs cannot be combined in any fashion to make a right. What both the Cuccinelli and McAuliffe campaigns were doing was, quite frankly sickening, making both seem completely unelectable without any positive hope. Given Cuccinelli’s constantly slipping polls numbers up to Labor Day, it seems that a majority of Virginia voters agree. After speaking with Steven Latimer earlier today, his opinion is that “Ken Cuccinelli has not run a very libertarian campaign” and that “the campaign seems out of touch with the party grassroots and is resistant to hearing suggestions.”
As you may know, giving the flailing nature of the Cuccinelli campaign, they recently had a bit of a shake-up as well. It was my great hope that they would jettison their previous negativity. Today, I received an email from the Cuccinelli campaign entitled “Lies” and beginning with the line, “Headed into the first statewide televised debate, Terry McAuliffe has set a low bar for the depths of dishonesty he will stoop to,” while at the same time including not a single positive word about Ken Cuccinelli; it seems to me that they have learned nothing. Should they lose in November, (and I unfortunately believe that they will) and then they wonder why they lost, they only need look in the mirror.
It is amazing to me that for someone who has been struggling to find work, a person who is trying to put a little food on his table and a little gas in his car, the RLC would chastise him for doing so. Should he do what he can to promote the cause of liberty, even if that means working for a Libertarian candidate? Or would they prefer if he suckled at the teat of the welfare state instead?
Given a choice between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe, there is no doubt in my mind that Cuccinelli would be a much better governor for the Commonwealth. I have said as much before and have no qualms about doing so again here. However, that statement wasn’t sufficient for the RLC-VA who insisted that I had to both renounce Sarvis and publicly endorse Cuccinelli. To me, my endorsement is something exceedingly special, my highest stamp of approval. As such, I have endorsed only a handful of candidates over my 18 years in politics, such as Ron Paul in 2008 & 2012, Karen Kwiatkowski in 2012, and Ken Cuccinelli in 2009. One should never construe my employment as necessarily my endorsement, for I have not endorsed all of the candidates for whom I have worked. In addition, each of my endorsements I have done in accordance with my own free will, without duress. I cannot nor will not allow any group to force me to endorse anyone. Even though I very much wished to retain my position with the RLC, I felt I could not honorably take this step and told them as much. As a result, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, both Steven and I were removed from our positions.
Virginia needs a healthy dose of liberty interjected into her politics. So too do the Republican and Democratic parties. Given my more than a decade of involvement with the GOP, I saw the RLC as an important avenue to promote these principles and mold the Republicans into the party that their creed claims they are. Say what you will about them, the Libertarian Party, partly through the Sarvis campaign, has been pushing the liberty envelope in the state. Will this Libertarian effort hurt the GOP? Of course it will. But rather than shoving liberty-minded people away, both the RLC-VA and the Republican Party as a whole ought to redouble their efforts to welcome these activists into their camps.
The Sarvis campaign serves a multitude of important functions to promote liberty and expand political dialogue and if anyone thinks that I am helping them because I hate Ken Cuccinelli either politically or personally, or believes that I want to see him lose in November, then that person has missed the point entirely.
Despite this unfortunate event, I consider many of the board members of the RLC-VA as my friends and wish them well as they seek to reform the GOP. I’m disappointed not to be counted among their ranks, but know full well that I too will do my best to continue to promote the cause of liberty in some fashion or another.
Liberty now and forever.