The Republican (Feudalism) Plan

Image from nobility.org
Image from nobility.org

Ask the average Republican voter or even activist if he or she is familiar with the party plan of the Republican Party of Virginia and I’d wager you’re likely to get a blank stare in response.  Much like a constitution or a set of bylaws, the party plan is the governing document for the state party.  Well, as Craig Orndorff, who runs the Race to Richmond, This Time, Roanoke, recently highlighted, the RPV has made several changes to their party plan.  You can read the entire document here.

Perhaps the most important modification deals with participation in party activities.  Point 2 in section A of Article 1 reads, “A voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four (4) years.”

Now what difference does this change make?  Well, if it were in effect prior to the 2011 elections, Ken Cuccinelli would not have been the Republican Party nominee for governor in 2013.  Both Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling broke party ranks to support independent Bill Janis for commonwealth attorney of Henrico over the GOP nominee.  As such, under this change not only would neither of the two men would have been eligible to run for any office under the Republican Party last year, but in addition they would have been excluded from all party functions until 2015.  Even Eric Cantor, the U.S. House Majority Leader, backed Janis and would not be eligible to be a Republican, much less hold his current post.

Although not changed in the latest round of revisions, there are other troubling aspects of the party plan.  For example, who can participate in Republican primaries and conventions?  According to the plan, “all legal and qualified voters…who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, and who, if requested, express in open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election may participate as members of the Republican Party of Virginia in its mass meetings, party canvasses, conventions, or primaries encompassing their respective election districts.”

Several years ago the RPV attempted to use a loyalty oath as a condition to vote in a primary.  Although legally unenforceable, the effort generated considerable backlash and it was withdrawn.  The whole idea is rather concerning.  In order to select a Republican nominee a voter has to pledge in advance to support the eventual Republican candidate whomever he or she happens to be and regardless of what positions he or she happens to hold.  Imagine, if you will, a single issue voter.  Let’s say she is a pro-life Republican.  On primary day she goes to the polls to support a pro-life candidate over a pro-choice one.  Regardless of the outcome, according to the party plan by voting in that primary she is honor-bound to support the Republican even if that candidate holds a position which is in stark contrast to her own.  Does that seem right to you?  What will be the effect assuming it is attempted to be enforced?  It seems that the loyalty oath is alive and well.

Now, this position is not unique to the Republican Party as the Democratic Party of Virginia included a similar statement in their 2010 party Plan.  “No person shall participate in a Democratic primary, convention or caucus who intends to support a candidate opposed to any Democratic nominee in that general or special election.”  Many of the locals know that it is very unlikely (but not impossible) for me to vote Democratic.  Will some party official stand at the door of the polling place on primary day, like George Wallace, denying me entrance?

In point three, the party seems to call for voter registration by political party, an idea I firmly oppose.

Moving through the RPV party plan, we reach point four.  It reads, “In addition to the foregoing, to be in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, unless otherwise stipulated by the appropriate Official Committee, a person otherwise qualified hereunder shall not have participated in Virginia in the nomination process of a party other than the Republican Party within the last five years.”

In plain English, this means that if you vote in the Democratic primaries, you are booted from the GOP.  It doesn’t matter that your tax dollars fund these primaries, you cannot voice your opinion in these contests…according to the Virginia Republican Party.  As someone who faithfully votes in as many primaries as he can, this plank is exceedingly worrisome.  I can think of at least three Democratic primaries in which I’ve voted; 2006 U.S. Senate, 2009 Statewide Virginia, and 2013 Statewide Virginia.  In addition, although I could not vote, I was a witness to the 2013 Libertarian state convention.  Does that count as participation too?  What if you live in an area of the state where only Democratic candidates can win?  Would voicing your opinion to select the best Democratic option exclude you from later expressing your opinion in Republican circles too?  Can a party forbid you to take part in a political process funded by your own tax dollars?  Although there is a clause to avoid this issue…as a one-time exception…being required to craft a written statement denouncing the other party very much seems over the top.

I find these issues worrisome and would expect that many of my conservative brothers and sisters would as well.  Why is it that the Republican Party is so concerned with making vassals of their base?  Shouldn’t they instead promote the Republican principles found in the Republican creed and make sure that Republican elected officials actually honor and uphold these values?  If the GOP wants to make a principled statement, why not strip party membership from delegates and state senators who supported the transportation tax hike last year…or work to remove them from leadership positions…or, at the very least, publicly chastise them?

With these rules, one has to ponder why the party just doesn’t force all primary voters, convention goers, and potential candidates to declare, “I will to my party be true and faithful, and love all which it loves and shun all which it shuns”?  In case you are wondering, that declaration is a modification of the Anglo-Saxon Oath of Fealty.  I wonder if the RPV wishes to reduce us to serfdom.  Is political feudalism alive and well within the Commonwealth?  Are we being transformed into red and blue vassals, stripped of any semblance of political free will?

Shouldn’t the RPV do a better job reaching out to voters and actually reducing the size of government rather than promoting restrictive regulations?  Rather than expanding the Republican Party, these rules (especially if actually enforced) will only serve to shrink involvement, which, in turn, will further reduce any chances of future Republican statewide victories.

As so many Virginia elections are either uncontested or one party has a virtual lock on a seat, participation in party nominating contests is an important tool for voters to have at least some voice in determining their representation.  Demanding loyalty or forbidding cross party voting in order to take part in party politics is a violation of a free and open political process and weakens the strength of our democratic process.  No group or individual should ever unquestioningly own your vote or your support.  We haven’t lived in the middle ages for centuries, so why should our partisan politics be so mired in the past?

If the Republican Party of Virginia desires to enact an oath I can get behind, it ought to sound something like this: “I will to my principles be true and faithful.  As long as the party and her candidates uphold these shared principles, I will support them.”

Sam Rasoul is a Terrorist?

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2008 campaign photo from Sam Rasoul’s Facebook page

Earlier today, JHPolitics posted a piece supposedly linking Democratic Roanoke House of Delegates candidate Sam Rasoul to terrorism.  One of his donors, a group called Mar-Jac Investments, may have ties to the funding of radical Islam.  As the author concludes, “Virginians deserve better than representatives who may owe favors to such nefarious figures.”

In response, Shaun Kenney at Bearing Drift points out there are several issues that ought to be addressed in this matter.  One particularly pressing one is that if Mar-Jac does have a terrorist link, what does that mean for other recipients of their funds, such as Republican State Senator Dick Black, Democratic Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli?  I encourage you to read his entire post.

Normally, as this issue has been picked up by Bearing Drift, I’d likely leave it as is.  However, as some of my political associates have been running with Rasoul’s supposed ties to terrorism, I felt I had to offer my thoughts.  Even the Republican Party of Virginia is spreading it too.  Although I haven’t spent much time reading about Mr. Rasoul since he ran for House of Representatives in 2008 and almost certainly wouldn’t be supporting him in his House of Delegates race, we can’t go about grasping at straws and making wild accusations.  By all means, figure out what Mar-Jac is all about.  However, for anyone who seeks to condemn Rasoul for this donor, are you also willing to declare Republicans who have benefited tainted as well?

Can we please have a race where we focus on principles and substance?  Or am I simply asking too much?

Liberty’s Frost

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”  So begins Robert Frost’s immortal poem and so too the liberty movement in Virginia now faces two or more roads.  Nowhere can this divide be seen more clearly than in the 2013 race for governor where many liberty activists supported Republican Ken Cuccinelli and others rallied behind Libertarian Robert Sarvis.  As attacks mounted, each side grew to despise the other.

The question now becomes what should be done?  Many people declared that the Republican ticket of Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain was the most liberty-minded statewide slate of candidates Virginia had ever seen.  However, Cuccinelli and Jackson both fell in defeat and Obenshain is a few votes behind Herring; at this point, that contest and the recount to likely follow isn’t terribly promising.

On the Libertarian side of things, although Robert Sarvis performed leaps and bounds better than Gary Johnson’s presidential run in 2012 or Bill Redpath’s 2001 gubernatorial race, he was unable to reach the 10% mark, which would have given tremendous legitimacy to the Libertarian party and awarded them official status within the two major parties in the state.

Some of my fellow liberty activists remain firmly committed within the Republican camp, arguing that taking over the GOP is the only realistic hope for liberty.  However, there are grumblings within the establishment of that party, whether fairly or not, using 2012 as an example of what happens when the party drifts too far from the center.  Although perhaps mere rumors, there is talk of expelling the tea party and the liberty movement from their ranks.  And, given the proclivity of some Republicans to pass massive tax increases and meddle too much into personal affairs, an increasing number of libertarians see the GOP as a major part of the problem.

Others declare the Libertarian Party to be the path of the future for liberty.  However, given the party did not achieve its 10% goal, it still faces significant hurdles both electorally and, just as important, the wasted vote syndrome embedded within the minds of scores of Virginia citizens.  The party is still quite small and underfunded, thus the challenges are enormous.  And some of their positions are unpalatable to liberty-minded social conservatives.

As you likely know, during this election cycle I looked at the choices and was…“sorry I could not travel both”; ultimately taking “the one less traveled by”.

Like I stated as the campaign cycle began to take a particularly nasty tone, one of my greatest concerns was the rift in the liberty faction.  The Republican wing considered the Libertarian to be fools, wasting their time on a candidate and cause that clearly could not win, while the Libertarian wing thought the Republicans to be sell-outs, supporting candidates who did not really adhere to the message of liberty.

Regardless of which party you believe is the best vehicle for advancing liberty (or if you choose no party at all), the liberty movement needs to heal, respect each other, and come together in some fashion if we wish it to advance.  My advice to all sides is to reach across the partisan divide and search out like-minded Republicans, Libertarians, and even Democrats (yes, they do they exist.  However, they were troubled by Cuccinelli’s supposedly radical social agenda.)  At least that’s what I’m trying to accomplish.  At the end of the day, it is my great hope that we can say, “and that has made all the difference.”

2013 Post Election Thoughts

Vote HereWell, ladies and gentlemen, it has been nearly a week since the election of November 5th.  Perhaps it is time for a little analysis.  Before I begin, I should add that the week before the election, Bearing Drift asked their readers to offer their predictions on how things would turn out.  Therefore, in each race, I’ll start by mentioning my predictions.

Governor

Prediction: McAuliffe 51%, Cuccinelli 43%, Sarvis 6%

Actual: McAuliffe 47.74%, Cuccinelli 45.23%, Sarvis 6.52%

The four November polls in the lead up to Election Day predicted Cuccinelli down by significant percentages, 12%, 7%, 6%, and 7%.  Only one, Emerson College placed him within two points and the margin of error.  As Cuccinelli had not been leading in a poll since mid July, the general thought was that it wasn’t going to be a particularly close race.  However, the Cuccinelli campaign tried two tactics right before judgment day.

The first involved Obamacare.  Given that citizens across the country were having tremendous difficulty signing up on the official website, this frustration and anger proved to be fertile ground for the Cuccinelli camp given that Cuccinelli had been attacking the program within hours of its passage.  If the Cuccinelli campaign had latched onto this message sooner rather than relentlessly attacking McAuliffe, then perhaps they would have stood a good chance of actually winning.

Second, as negativity was their style, the Cuccinelli campaign and their allies attempted last minute smearing of Robert Sarvis, declaring that he was not a real libertarian and that he was secretly funded by Democrats.  Although neither of these claims were grounded in much fact, as they were distributed by both leaders in the liberty movement and a handful of well-known media sources, some voters accepted them as true and passed them on to their friends and neighbors unquestioned.  Although these tactics likely enraged a number of Sarvis supporters and turned them further from Cuccinelli, it did drive others to switch their votes from Sarvis to Cuccinelli.  Although I predicted that Sarvis would pull equally from both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, exit polls show that either his presence didn’t affect the overall outcome or he drew more from the Democratic side than the Republican.  However, this last ditch effort to win Sarvis support likely caused an even deeper fracture within the liberty movement in Virginia.

10% was the hurdle that Sarvis needed to reach and, as I predicted, he fell short.  However, assuming these false attacks were not launched, it would have been interesting to see how close he would have come.

Lieutenant Governor

Prediction: Northam 55%, Jackson 45%

Actual: Northam 55.11%, Jackson 44.54%

If you account for rounding, I hit this one exactly on the mark.  Unfortunately, as I stated upon the conclusion of the 2013 Virginia Republican Convention, by nominating Jackson the Republicans had surrendered the LG race.  If you will recall, in Jackson’s previous attempt at a statewide race the year before, he picked up a scant 4.72%.  Although Jackson strongly resonated with the hard-line social conservatives within the GOP, many of his previous statements regarding alternate religions and lifestyles hurt him tremendously among average Virginians.  Although Ralph Northam did not run a particularly impressive or vigorous campaign, all he needed to do was to air some of Jackson’s more controversial statements and victory was all but a certainty.

Attorney General

Prediction: Obenshain 52% Herring 48%

Actual: Obenshain 49.88%, Herring 49.88% (as of 11/10/13)

The Obenshain/Herring contest turned out to be a real nail-biter, with the results still unknown and likely headed to a recount.  Originally, I expected Obenshain to win based upon the fact that the Democrats had not won the attorney general’s spot since 1989 and that Obenshain had been working hard to capture this office for the last several years.  Although, in my opinion, the Obenshain team ran the best of the three Republican campaigns, they were no doubt hampered by troubles at the top of the ticket.  Once news of a possible recount emerged, I was still under the impression that Obenshain would win, but with the addition of “missing” ballots from Fairfax, the results seem a lot more unclear.  We likely won’t know anything definitive for at least a month.

House of Delegates

Prediction: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

Actual: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

With all of the excitement surrounding the three statewide races, the hundred seats in the House of Delegates weren’t much more than an afterthought for many Virginia voters.  Although I didn’t know where, I assumed that the Democrats would pick off a Republican somewhere.  It looks as if the GOP lost in the 2nd district, picked up the previously Republican leaning independent seat in the 19th, picked up the vacant seat in the 78th, picked up the vacant seat in 84th, and lost the 93rd.  Elsewhere, there were a considerable number of close contests.  Prior to the elections and vacancies, the Democrats had 32 seats.  Now they have 33.  Although I’ve written extensively on the 93rd in previous posts, it seems that even with a bit of gerrymandering the seat was too difficult for the GOP to hold for long.

So I guess the question now is, will Obenshain win?  And, especially if he does not, given their string of successive statewide losses since the 2009 election, what will become of the Republican Party of Virginia?

Midday Election Day 2013

Hello readers and greetings from Chesterfield County.

On most Election Days, I’m out working the polls and collecting data, but today you can find me in the former headquarters of the Jamie Radtke for Senate campaign working for my former employers from 2012.

Anyway, I’m sure that many of you are busy either at the polls, making phone calls, or even going door-to-door.  Not only is turnout in this race is important, but which parts of the state are turning out better than others will have a critical impact.  Remember as you look at turnout numbers, Democrats want higher numbers in northern Virginia and most cities (excluding Virgina Beach), while rural areas like the Shenandoah Valley are Republican strongholds.  Where are areas of Libertarian strength?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

While driving on I-64, this morning, I received two phone calls on the same topic.  I’m sure you know that I’m  disappointed to read about this latest attack on Robert Sarvis.  The latest claim, for those who haven’t heard, is that he is somehow a plant funded by the Democrats.  Although I don’t dispute that the Libertarian Super PAC has donated to Sarvis and that one of their donors may have given to Democratic candidates, to make the wild leap that Sarvis doesn’t believe in a libertarian message or is merely a stooge of the McAuliffe campaign is rather absurd.  Some points to ponder:  the Libertarian Super PAC also donated to Gary Johnson when he ran for president in 2012.  Does that fact make him a plant too?  If Sarvis is a plant, why wouldn’t they be giving him a lot more than $11,500?  After all, a statewide campaign requires massive amounts of money.  And why would the PAC bother spreading their resources, giving the Libertarian candidates for House of Delegates anything if Sarvis was their ace in the hole?  Come on people, I know it can be difficult, but try and think rationally.  A Libertarian group donates to a Libertarian candidate…ohh, the scandal!  What a waste of electronic ink.  Haven’t we learned yet that Ken Cuccinelli cannot win merely by attacking his opponents?  If you want Ken to win, promote Ken.  Must this lesson be learned the hard way?

Anyway, if you haven’t voted, go out and make your voice heard.

What’s the Liberty Vote Tuesday?

IMG_2133Guest post by Charles Frohman.

A Virginia libertarian can vote Tuesday for Attorney General Cuccinelli and feel comfortable, despite his unwillingness to contemplate removal of government from women’s health care, private behavior, gun purchases or immigration. That’s because the “Cooch” – as some in politics call the Republican candidate for governor – will focus on the changes needed in the state for progress: cuts in government taxation, cuts in bureaucratic spending and cuts in job-stifling regulations. Certainly McAuliffe, the Democrat, offers no reason for a vote, given his “government-first” answers for any Virginia problem. What about the third choice, Libertarian Sarvis? Doesn’t he offer an investment for Virginia’s long-term future that combines the fiscal responsibility of the Cooch without the social interventions saddling the AG?

Yes, only Sarvis offers the combination of fiscal responsibility and social tolerance favored by most Americans; if ten percent of voters Tuesday invest in the Libertarian, that party will have no signature threshold to get onto future state-wide ballots through the next several elections – guaranteeing a libertarian choice and, perhaps most importantly, pressure on the Republicans to stop offering candidates that are only partially acceptable, as the Cooch is only acceptable fiscally.

Conservatives may have noticed the GOP smears against Sarvis floating around the interwebs over the past week. They claim Sarvis isn’t as libertarian as the Cooch on spending, healthcare reform or transportation funding. These distortions of the Libertarian’s record have properly been debunked by the Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia Conservative and Virginia Right – all faithful conservative media organs and none in the pocket of Sarvis. The truth on taxes is that while the Cooch helpfully would marginally cut income taxes, Sarvis would seek abolition of the hated tax and move to a consumption tax (making us competitive with the growing number of states that rely for revenue solely on a sales tax). Let’s abolish the income tax.

On taxpayer-funded health care for the poor, Sarvis never said he disagreed with Cuccinelli on holding the line on expanding Medicaid –the core access expansion provision of ObamaCare. Sarvis, however, has called for reform of government health care, moving to a cash-support model (touted famously in 2012 by Congressman Paul Ryan) whereby the poor could receive a voucher to buy any health plan instead of having a one-size-fits-all plan shoved onto them. Further, only Sarvis wants to get government out of women’s health care; Cuccinelli doesn’t. Libertarians – and Sarvis – want government out of health care period.

On Transportation funding, Sarvis is accused of supporting a privacy-violating mileage tax to fund road building. The Libertarian does not endorse this tax and instead merely included it in a list of suggested ways to undo the damage done by Cuccinelli’s administration that moved away from user fees. Further, only Sarvis has mentioned the libertarian dream of devolving road building decisions to local governments away from Richmond. Local control is the way to fix those potholes and build more lanes to get rid of congestion.

Staying on the privacy-threatening implications of the car mileage tax, it’s striking that the Republicans making this warning fail to see the way Cuccinelli already has violated this warning with his support for mental health gun bans. For the government to deny 2nd Amendment rights to mental patients, the government must violate health privacy. And who doesn’t suspect the definition of mental disability will expand as the government tries to deny more Americans – including civil dissidents – this ancient right of armed defense? The 2nd amendment is not to be trifled with.

The Cooch deserves a vote Tuesday for his generic fiscal conservatism and judicial activism against ObamaCare, Real ID and those unfairly prosecuted. However, to keep the pressure on Virginia to keep moving in a libertarian direction – including to protect the gun rights of all Americans, to get government completely out of healthcare, to get government out of private behavior and to improve transportation with more local control – withhold support for un-libertarian choices and invest in an “open-minded and open for business” future for Virginia with a vote for Sarvis.

Charles Frohman, from Suffolk and now in Williamsburg, worked in DC politics for 2 decades including Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.  He now directs development for the Our America Initiative, the only national grassroots movement for fiscally responsible activists who also are socially open-minded.  To reach Charles, email CFroh@yahoo.com.

The Sarvis 10%

IMG_2184As Virginia approaches its November 5th election, activists are pondering all sorts of questions.  Will Ken Cuccinelli launch a surprise comeback to become the state’s next governor?  Will the Democratic Party sweep the three statewide offices for the first time since 1989?  Will Mark Obenshain win the attorney general’s race, proving to be the one bright spot for the Republican Party on Election Day?  However, one question that will also have a lasting impact on Virginia politics is, will Robert Sarvis meet or exceed the 10% mark?

For some, this last question might sound a bit odd.  Isn’t who wins or loses the election the only important factor?  What difference does it make if Sarvis gets 1%, 5%, 10%, or even 15%?  Well, if Robert Sarvis captures at least 10% of the vote, that means that Virginia would now have three major recognized political parties, the Democrats, Republicans, and the Libertarians.  For the Libertarians, this switch would mean easier ballot access.  For example, although the Libertarians nominated Sarvis by convention in April (similar to how the Republican nominated Cuccinelli in May), the Libertarians were under the additional burden of being required to collect at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters to actually get Sarvis on November’s ballot.  For a smaller party, like the Libertarians, this effort meant considerable manpower and funding.  If Sarvis gets 10% or more, should the Libertarians nominate a candidate via convention for the 2014 Senate race, they would be free from this task, at least for the next several years.

With these thoughts in mind, will Sarvis make 10%?  Recent polls indicate that he could, but many activists are skeptical.  That being said, fellow blogger Shaun Kenney of Bearing Drift stated today on Facebook that Sarvis will reach the 10% threshold.  Anyone else care to offer their predictions?

Sympathy for Cuccinelli

Happier days at the RPV Convention in 2009
Happier days at the RPV Convention in 2009

Yesterday evening, Ken Cuccinelli held a gathering in Lynchburg to speak with a handful of liberty-minded individuals in the 6th district of Virginia about his race for governor.  My understanding is that he sought to create a dialogue between himself and open-minded, libertarian leaders.  As such, the chairman of the Harrisonburg Libertarian Party and I made the two-hour drive to meet with him.  All in all, there were eight of us including the attorney general and his campaign staffer.

Prior to this meeting I crafted a list of the points that I wanted to address, to explain what I thought had gone wrong with his campaign and, in this late hour, what he could do if he wished form a tighter relationship with people like me.  However, when Ken Cuccinelli looked at me, I confess that I became extremely disheartened.  As my longtime readers know, I have a lot of respect for the man.  But when I looked into his eyes, I didn’t see his typical spirit of determination but rather the pangs of a soul staring down a bitter defeat.

In many ways this election has been a series of unfortunate events for Cuccinelli.  Seven months ago, I was all but certain of his victory.  After all, he was squaring off against Terry McAuliffe, a man who lost the Democratic nomination in 2009, who has no elected experience, and isn’t particularly liked by anyone, including members of his own party.  His major claim to fame is his ability to fundraise and his ties to the Clinton machine.  And yet, less than three weeks before Election Day, Cuccinelli stands on the brink of oblivion, on the verge of what could be a particularly unfortunate end to a promising and successful political career.

There is no question that the Cuccinelli campaign has gone astray.   Last night I tried to make the point that his campaign had failed him, that they traveled too far down the road of negativity without a positive counterbalance losing, not only the undecided voters, but a huge swath of the Republican faithful as well.  Yes, they have had one excellent ad, but that was it.

The liberty-minded Cuccinelli that many of us came to know and love in 2008 through the early days as attorney general has gotten lost in the mix.  Now it is true that the McAuliffe campaign tactics are awful as well, which has only served to sour voters against both men and look to the direction of the issue-oriented Sarvis campaign.  Although I had been attempting to speak with Cuccinelli for a number of months, his handlers always turned my request aside.  Despite some claims by other leaders in the liberty movement in Virginia, as far as I have observed, Robert Sarvis has done a far better job reaching out to people like me.

We also briefly discussed the issue of Robert Sarvis’ exclusion from the final debate.  Many of us agreed that if Cuccinelli wants to broaden his appeal to liberty-minded voters, he ought to actually engage Sarvis, including supporting his inclusion into the debate.  In a recent article, the press reported that only the Cuccinelli campaign holds Sarvis back, as both the McAuliffe camp and the debate organizers seem to be willing to allow him in.  But I do not believe that Cuccinelli or his campaign will budge on this point, which will only expand the sense of alienation some small “l” libertarians have with Mr. Cuccinelli.

Just because I have worked for the Sarvis campaign, have volunteered some of my time, and believe Robert Sarvis is an excellent candidate for governor, I take no joy in the prospect of Ken Cuccinelli’s probable defeat.  As I have said many times, I firmly believe that a Cuccinelli victory would be far better than a McAuliffe governorship.

Although I applaud Ken Cuccinelli for reaching out and meeting with us last night, to make a more lasting impact such a meeting should have taken place months ago.

On the drive back home I wish that I could say that I felt better about the direction of the Cuccinelli campaign, but that simply isn’t true.  I expect that they will continue down their disastrous path and thus deprive Virginians of a leader who is far better than the caricature the McAuliffe campaign has presented.  As such, given everything that has transpired and everything that is likely yet to come, I left Lynchburg feeling a lot of sympathy for Ken Cuccinelli, wishing his campaign had taken the time to actually highlight his positives and boldly advocate positions important to those of us in the liberty camp.

Astrid Sarvis on the Last Governor Debate

Dr. Astrid Sarvis, wife of Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis, offers her thoughts about Robert’s exclusion from the final debate.

Although Mr. Sarvis will be on the ballot alongside Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe next month and has been polling quite well, often preferred by 10% or more of the respondents, he has not be allowed to participate in any of the debates with the other candidates.  This blatant and intentional exclusion of Robert Sarvis is both unacceptable and a sad reflection of the political climate in both Virginia and the nation.

An Open Letter to the Liberty Movement

Good evening friends in liberty.

I hope that this message finds you doing well.  I would like to write each and every one of you today but as there are so many folks within the liberty movement whom I do not yet know, I thought it best to craft this blanket letter on my blog.

As you may know, here in Virginia we will be holding an election for governor in less than a month.  On our ballot we have three choices, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.  This election has been a cause for concern in Republican circles for many as a victory which ought to have been a clear and easy task for Cuccinelli is seeming less certain or even quite unlikely as the days progress.

In response, last Friday former Representative Ron Paul came out and endorsed Cuccinelli.  As you may also know, several fairly high profile leaders in the Virginia liberty movement have recently done so as well.

Now, the goal of this letter is not to address the merits or downfalls of Cuccinelli, but rather the state of the liberty movement, especially the liberty movement in Virginia.  Looking back at my own circumstances, I joined this cause not to seek personal glory or to command a large army of followers, but to promote our shared political principles that we think ought to be advanced in Virginia and the nation.  I suspect that many of you can relate to this motivation.  However, as this gubernatorial election proceeds, I am growing concerned about the direction of the effort.

Let me ask you several important questions.  What is the purpose of the liberty movement?  Is it to rally behind an icon, following every word Ron Paul (or his representatives both past and present) speaks without question?  I should certainly hope that the answer is no.  Don’t get me wrong, I likely have as much or more respect for Dr. Paul than just about anyone.  However, I would argue though that the larger purpose of this movement is to promote greater political awareness, to enhance ideology, and the ability to think and reason, rather than some kind of blind obedience.  Although in the early stages I would have been delighted to wear a bracelet asking “What would Ron Paul do?” I’d like to think that I have moved beyond that rudimentary point, that Paul (along with others) has helped push me in the direction that I can independently come to the understanding of what is best for the cause of liberty.  I hope that all of us can  come to this kind of thinking.  Does that mean that I won’t make mistakes?  No.  Does that mean that Ron Paul is faultless?  Surely not!  No one, especially in the realm of politics, is always correct or perfect.

As many of you know, I am a former employee of Dr. Paul; I had the honor of serving as his Director of Grassroots Organization for the State of South Carolina in 2007 & 2008.  Before some rather unfortunate misunderstandings and miscommunications, I was slated to work for Dr. Paul again in 2011 & 2012.  As such, I have been actively promoting the principles of liberty for at least the past six years.  Does that role make me better than you?  Does it mean that I can speak with authority for the entire liberty movement here in Virginia?  Of course not!  Rather it serves as a reflection of my longstanding dedication to the cause.

Friends, when it comes to this election, if you value liberty there are quite a few reasons why you ought to vote for Ken Cuccinelli and there are quite a few reasons why you ought to vote for Robert Sarvis.  My purpose at this point is not to tell you whom you should support, but rather encourage you to carefully study the choices and, with a well-reasoned and well-researched argument, be able to understand and articulate your position.  And, if somehow you come to the conclusion that Terry McAuliffe is the most pro-liberty candidate, then follow your heart.  (Though I’d be very interested to hear how you came to this idea).  Yes, this means that some of us will support Cuccinelli while others rally behind Sarvis.  But the liberty folks in each camp would do well not to vilify those in the other lest the rift grow even wider.  Our detractors would love to see us fail; let us not destroy ourselves.

Make no mistake, the election in Virginia is very important.  But no matter how it shakes out, whether it is a stunning victory or a crushing defeat for one side or another, the liberty movement can and must continue.  Leadership in any cause is important and I hope to continue to offer you thoughts to ponder as we continue to make this journey together.

But, to restate my major point, please take the time to reason, think, and understand.  Sure, it’s easy to follow the leader, but it is far more important to our cause to comprehend the ideology behind it all.  How can we say that we support liberty and personal responsibility in all facets of life if we do not embrace them ourselves in the political arena?  To borrow a quote from LeVar Burton I heard many times in my childhood, “you don’t have to take my word for it.”

In liberty!

Joshua Huffman

Author of The Virginia Conservative