Negative Endorsements & Agreeing to Disagree

Although this might be a controversial statement to some activists, I firmly believe that not all endorsements are beneficial to a political campaign.

Image from the Dunbar campaign

For example, in this cycle in Virginia races, former Representative Ron Paul has endorsed Cynthia Dunbar for the 6th district in the House of Representatives and Nick Freitas for U.S. Senate.  I see these as positive endorsements given that not only is Dr. Paul my former boss,  I respect Ron Paul due to our shared principles and I believe he is an honorable man.  Over the years have I supported everyone he endorses?  No.  Nevertheless, I believe Paul’s endorsement is particularly positive.

For comparison, the present representative for the 6th district of Virginia, Bob Goodlatte, also has made endorsements (though none in this cycle as far as I know).  Given that we do not share much in the way of ideology when Representative Goodlatte endorses a candidate that fact makes it less likely, but certainly not an automatic disqualifier, that I will also support him or her.  His endorsement, in my mind, is negative.

Image from Jerry Falwell Jr’s Twitter page

Recently, the campaign of 6th district candidate Ben Cline announced that Jerry Falwell, Jr. has endorsed Cline.  As someone who both likes and respects Delegate Cline, I ended up speaking with a member of the Cline campaign regarding it.  Given Falwell’s unwavering support for Donald Trump despite the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s sexism, authoritarianism, and his flippant attitude toward religion, I believe that Mr. Falwell is leading otherwise good Christian men and women astray.  I wrote about the matter in late 2016 when I penned “The Fall of the Religious Right“.  Therefore, the staffer and I had a brief exchange about Mr. Falwell, respectfully disagreed about the value of his endorsement to the Cline campaign, and that was the end of the matter.

That dialogue, in my opinion, is how political disagreements ought to be discussed and resolved.  Obviously, no two people do nor ought to agree on every political matter.  That doesn’t mean that one side or the other is necessarily stupid or evil.  However, there are those who disagree.

Image from the Freitas campaign

Last week, the Nick Freitas campaign announced that former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has endorsed his candidacy.  As regular readers know, I have a great admiration for Mr. Freitas.  However, I don’t think much of Bob McDonnell.  Although I voted for him for attorney general in 2005 and governor in 2009, he demonstrated that he neither shared my political principles, by signing the largest tax increase in Virginia nor supported my values through his unethical conduct in the governor’s mansion, later revealed during his corruption trial and his conviction.   Although his sentence was later vacated (though he was not acquitted),  as Chief Justice Roberts wrote,“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that.  But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns.  It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.” As a result of his actions, whenever I hear of McDonnell, I am reminded of the image below.

Image from http://grumpycatrulesall.lolspots.com/

Therefore, when the Freitas campaign announced Bob McDonnell’s endorsement to a private group of which I am a part, I expressed my concern stating, “I’m not sure this is a positive.”  Although the first response was to offer a counterclaim, to which I explained why many Virginians might view McDonnell unfavorably (for the reasons listed above), the resulting conversation got rather nasty.

For example, here are some things that were said to me and about me:

“There are also some people who think bigfoot is real.”

“No, some opinions are quite literally BS.”

“The entire Supreme Court of the United States agree on very little, but they agree those people are morons.”

“‘I disagree with a few bills he signed into law.  Therefore, we should pervert the law and arrest him.’  How very libertarian…”

“Thankfully libertarians and us liberty lovers consider folks innocent until proven guilty.”

“There are some people who think the moon landings were faked.”

“‘I only want endorsements from pure libertarians.’ is my favorite political posturing.”

One of Freitas’ staffers called for restraint after initially making a negative comment, but it went unheeded; it seemed that the rest sensed blood in the water.  So, apparently, because I believe that Bob McDonnell that is sleazy and not someone I would want to associate with, according to some staffers and diehard supporters of Freitas that is a BS opinion of a moron akin to believing that Bigfoot is real, the moon landings were faked, and is also an example of political posturing.  Given that the last comment was made by an out of state staffer who I’ve never met, there was a part of me who really wanted to tell the guy to go **** himself.  Those who know me know that that this something that I’ve never said, but he made me so irate I didn’t know at that moment what else to do.  Afterward, the same staffer mentioned above contacted me to apologize for what had transpired but, by that point, the damage had already been done.

Good heavens!  After reading these comments you’d think that I was a bitter critic of Nick Freitas, not one of his ardent supporters!  And yet, despite having a different opinion of Bob McDonnell, so many of them treated me with utter contempt and disrespect.  If this kind of behavior is indicative of how they interact with their volunteers who have differing opinions, they won’t have to worry about running against Tim Kaine in November because they will have already lost the Republican primary in June, having driven away all of their supporters!

Yes, there are good people who think that Bob McDonnell is pretty scummy but there are also decent people who still support him.  I think the Freitas campaign touting his endorsement is a mistake, but I’d like to believe such an opinion, especially expressed in a closed Facebook group wouldn’t result in such nastiness.

As you might imagine, this exchange upset me quite a bit, for about the next 24 hours actually.  On Wednesday afternoon, while still feeling dejected, I spoke to one of my fellow grad students about what transpired, and he said it demonstrated the dangers of groupthink.  As someone who prided himself on cultivating and maintaining mutually rewarding volunteer relationships whenever I served on a campaign, to call the behavior I witnessed appalling is an understatement.  Although I still plan to vote for Freitas in June and encourage every other registered voter in Virginia to do likewise, I am sorely tempted to throw up my hands and refuse to lift a finger to help the campaign further.

Nick Freitas is a good and principled man and he ought to be represented by a good and principled campaign.  That is why I believe the Freitas campaign needs to do something to prevent this sort of thing from happening to someone else and they need to do it now.

As stated at the beginning of this piece, I firmly believe that there are endorsements that can help a campaign and others that hurt it.  Although we might disagree on who falls in which camp, I’d like to think we can be respectful when we have political disagreements and not result to throwing around insults and attacks.  Hopefully, the political climate hasn’t deteriorated so much that this sort of thinking isn’t realistic.  Let me end by borrowing part of a speech Delegate Freitas recently gave on the House floor that seems to have gone viral.  “If we want to have an open an honest debate, I am all for that.  Let’s do that.  But it does start with a certain degree of mutual respect.”

Getting to Know Matt Waters

On January 3rd, I wrote an article about Matt Waters, a fellow seeking the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections.  Today, the Old Dominion Libertarian posted an interview with Mr. Waters.  As I thought it was a good introduction to Matt Waters, (I still don’t know much about him yet either) I have gotten permission to repost it on my site.

If you’d like to check out the piece on the original site or explore other topics of interest, please visit https://olddominionlibertarian.wordpress.com.

INTERVIEW WITH VIRGINIA LIBERTARIAN MATT WATERS

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters And His Family.

Matt Waters plans to seek the Libertarian Party of Virginia’s nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018 to run against Tim Kaine and an as yet unknown Republican.  He is currently collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

Mr. Waters lives in Alexandria, Virginia and has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2008. He was raised in Hampton, Virginia and graduated from George Mason University. He is married and has five children.

We recently conducted an interview with Mr. Waters and we have included that interview below.


1. Have you run for office before? Why did you decide to run for U.S. Senate and not a lower office?

Waters: No. Never run before. I have been involved in many campaigns, mostly conservative Tea Party Republican, as a fundraiser. I looked at the 8th district here, the Fairfax Co. Alexandria area, and it’s heavily democrat. I would not have had the opportunity to get the message out. I wanted to go big.

2. How long have you been a member of the LP and the LPVA?

Waters: National LP going back to April 2008 (according to my membership card). LPVA, I’m a recent member.

3. Nick Freitas is considered the libertarian-leaning candidate in the Republican primary. He has received the endorsement of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and a few others. If he wins the primary and runs in the general election, why should a libertarian/Libertarian vote for you over Nick Freitas?

Waters: If Freitas wins, let’s revisit this question. He is an underdog and that is partly why I’m running, to give voters a choice in November. This November here in Virginia is shaping up to be a mirror of what 2020 will look like: a Trump Republican, a milk-toast Democrat, and a Libertarian.

4. Has Trump done anything to advance the libertarian agenda?

Waters: Yes, he has made Republicans look awful, and that may incline disillusioned Republicans to look at Libertarians—but we must be Libertarian—not faux. But we should not bet on Republicans joining us, as if they haven’t gotten the memo yet, I don’t think they ever will. It’s kinda like smoking—if you don’t know it will kill you—well, keep smoking. That’s what Republicans are doing—still smoking.

5. Would you support a constitutional amendment pertaining to term limits or a balanced budget? Why or why not?

Waters: Yes on both. George Will had a great column on this the other day, where he pointed out the two professors at Harvard who have a sound plan towards getting our books to balance. I’d support anything Will is saying—as he may be the most respected Libertarian in the country. On Term Limits, yes, got to take the professionalism out of this. But the only risk here is you have a deep state of professional bureaucrats who never leave Washington. I’d think we need to term limit public service in certain departments at certain levels. We sort of do that with political appointees, but take a deeper dive here. Needs to be looked at.

6. Do you agree with Gary Johnson, the 2012 and 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for President, that our immigration system needs to be streamlined to make it easier for people to come here legally?

Waters: I lean that way. I also lean towards cutting up the welfare state that may be having a disproportional impact on illegal immigration. I would also want to encourage our Latin American friends to focus on rule of law, private property rights, regulation reform, all of the things that make it hard for individuals to succeed. The Acton Institute did a study on how long it takes for an ordinary Hatian to open a business – a person not connected to government—about 260 days. Yet, someone connected to government, who knows someone, took them like a week. These governments are bankrupt, corrupt, and hurt individuals. They need to get their own houses in order.

7. If elected, who would you caucus with? How would you be able to work with other elected official in Washington, D.C. if you are the sole Libertarian candidate?

Waters: The others would caucus with me! I’d remain independent and attempt to be as non-political as possible—meaning, if R’s do something that makes sense, I’d vote for it; same with D’s. At some point the Libertarian Party will send a representative to Congress, and just like others in smaller parties who went to Congress before us, with the hope that one day the independents in this country will decide to do something different. They did it with Trump.

8. You have already spoken with members of the LPVA State Central Committee (SCC) about your candidacy and they seemed receptive. How do you feel about receiving the nomination to run as the LPVA candidate for U.S. Sentate in 2018?

Waters: I am excited about it, as we need to offer an alternative to the status quo.

9. Do you have petitions up online that volunteers can download to help get you on the ballot? How many signatures do you need?

Waters: I do have a petition on my Facebook page, and on signatures, we need to capture 400 signatures in each of Virginia’s Congressional districts, so 4,400 valid signatures in the 11 districts, and 10,000 overall.

10. What will be the issue(s) that your campaign will focus on?

Waters: If you ask Americans what the number one concern is in this country, they will tell you that their government is. They love the country, they are afraid of the government. If Libertarians cannot capitalize on this, then we may as well pack up and go home. The IRS was weaponized against the Tea Party; the Department of Education is making us dumb and dumber. The FDA is a failure that is responsible for millions dead. The Defense Department is anything but. I think of the snow days here in DC – they tell federal workers – “all non-essential employees” no need to come in to work. If you are non-essential on a snow day, you are non-essential every day. Cut Commerce, Education, HUD, Energy—all a total waste. I ask friends to “Name one thing the federal government gets right?” Blank stares. And all that for $4.5 trillion a year. C’mon, it’s time to wake up and cut spending. My budget would cut spending $1 trillion a year, and would eliminate all federal personal income taxes for all Americans through the Liberty Amendment—eliminating the 16th Amendment and replacing the income tax with NOTHING.

12. How can volunteers contact you if they want to get involved with your campaign?

Waters: Go to MattWaters.com, it points to my facebook page, and the webpage is going live soon.

13. A lot of times we hear that voting for a Libertarian candidate is a “wasted vote” or that it will help the Democrat or Republican win (depending on who you talk to). What would you tell voters who are concerned about your candidacy affecting the election in a way that they perceive as negative?

Waters: I think Democrats and Republican voters are wasting their votes; after all, what has Tim Kaine done in the US Senate? Name one thing. These voters are on their way to becoming non-voters because they know nothing changes.

14. It has been reported that you are pro-life. Can you elaborate on this a little bit? Would you seek to have a “Personhood Amendment” added to the Constitution? 

Waters: Yes, 100% pro-life, more so than any of the Republicans running. I have worked for and with multiple pro-life organizations over the last 25 years. I became pro-life in the mid-80’s reading Jesse Jackson and Al Gore’s statements—both were pro-life at one time—and both sold out their principles seeking higher office. I won’t do that. I’m encouraged that the Democrats—the party of Death according to Ramash Ponnuru’s book, are actually entertaining supporting pro-life candidates. So on personhood, on a Life Amendment, etc, yes, I would support nearly anything that protects life. That is at its very heart what it means to be an American—after all, its life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is first on the list. The life position also falls under the Libertarian banner of “do no harm”.

A Libertarian for Senate

In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate.  On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee.  For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination.  And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.

Image from the campaign Facebook page

A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot.  Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan.  At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).

Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles.  I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).

Who is Matt Waters?  I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.