Sarvis and the Role of a Third Party in Tight Races

Robert Sarvis

The close race that was the Virginia governor’s race, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost by a smaller than predicted margin to Clinton campaigner-in-chief Terry McAuliffe, has led to some very interesting — although not altogether new — discussions about the role of a third party candidate in a tight election. And, while it’s becoming fairly clear that the, as Allahpundit at HotAir puts it, “fake libertarian didn’t cost Cuccinelli the election” in terms of vote count, that doesn’t mean that Sarvis being in the race and the support he was given by some influential power-brokers didn’t actually help to harm Cuccinelli in the end.

First, the argument that Sarvis had nothing to do with Cuccinelli’s loss. The numbers look right to make that argument. From new and compelling blog The Federalist:

Remember that the total difference between your average Cuccinelli county (R+25) and your average McAuliffe county (D+22) was a swing of nearly 47 percent, yet the difference in Sarvis support between those two massively different electorates was less than 1 percent.

Those numbers — namely the fact that there is so little difference in Sarvis support in counties with wildly different candidate preferences — strongly suggest that Sarvis was a “none of the above” candidate, not a Cuccinelli siphon or a traditional spoiler in the mold of Ralph Nader.

Poll: Republican voters have embraced libertarian values

Don't Tread on Me

The libertarian philosophy is taking the Republican Party by storm, according to a poll conducted by FreedomWorks, a DC-based grassroots service center with over 6 million members.

With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and many other liberty-minded politicians gaining influence, libertarianism has generated new interest inside the Republican Party, much to the chagrin of the GOP’s political establishment.

Though still not a dominate view inside the party, there is no denying that the narrative inside the Republican Party has significantly changed. Moreover, libertarians have an opportunity upon which they can seize, if they’re willing to work within the system.

“FreedomWorks’ poll shows that 41 percent of Republican voters hold libertarian views. Conventional wisdom is that many voters who are libertarian don’t know the word. But this may well be changing,” noted David Kirby, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephen Spiker in the report on the data.

“FreedomWorks’ poll shows that 42 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the word ‘libertarian,’ and only 10 percent don’t know the word, compared to 27 percent who don’t know nationally,” they added.

And the term “libertarian” may still turn off some Republican voters, the basic message of the philosophy earns significant favor. The poll found that 68% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree with the statement that “individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others, and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives.”

Libertarians are the new what?

Don’t you just love it when people who don’t really understand your ideology decide to pontificate on just what is wrong with it?  Well, that’s what happened over at Bloomberg when Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu took to the bandwidth to announce that libertarians are the new communists.

Oh yes, you read that right:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe.

This just tickles me because it comes from two progressives.  You know, progressives: the guys who have given us the non-recovery from the worst financial crisis since the great depression?  But catastrophe will follow if our policies were implemented?

Funny, if complete BS:

Let’s start with some definitions. By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. By communism, we mean the ideology of extreme state domination of private and economic life.

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Way to completely miss the point on Ayn Rand’s works.

George Will: Chris Christie is “dangerous”

What’s more dangerous — a government that respects its limitations and the rights of its citizens or a government that can do virtually anything it wants under the guise of protecting the homeland? That’s the question that summed up the public debate between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) that went down late last month.

George Will, an iconic conservative columnist, answered the question yesterday on ABC’s This Week, explaining libertarianism’s respect for individual liberty and noting that its Christie’s view of government that is truly dangerous.

“[T]here is a rising libertarian stream that Chris Christie has said is ‘a very dangerous thought.’ So let’s be clear about what libertarianism is and what it isn’t. It is not anarchism. It has a role in government,” noted Will during a panel on the Sunday talk show. “What libertarianism says — it comes in many flavors and many degrees of severity, and it basically says before the government abridges the freedom of an individual or the freedom of several individuals contracting together, that government ought to have, a) a compelling reason and b) a constitutional warrant for doing so.”

“Now, if Mr. Christie thinks that’s a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that Mr. Christie himself may be dangerous,” said Will in his usually clear and pointed tone.

Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul talk liberty at YAL conference

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee

How awesome would it have been to be in the room for this? So much liberty and energy in one place. In case you missed it or haven’t heard, Young Americans for Liberty hosted an excellent roundtable discussion with Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul before a group of enthusiastic, young conservative and libertarian activists:

Sen. Ted Cruz gave a nod to the “wacko birds in the house.” Sen. Mike Lee, to cheers, said, “We’re not accustomed to that kind of welcome in Washington.” And Sen. Rand Paul could barely get a word in edgewise before “Stand with Rand” cheers drowned out everything else.

Paul, Cruz and Lee — three of the senate’s most vocal champions of a libertarian-leaning approach — appeared onstage together Wednesday night at a conference sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-linked organization. There, to resounding cheers and catcalls, they made no secret of their issues with their GOP colleagues in the Senate as they made overtures to the youthful audience.
In a wide-ranging panel discussion at a hotel in Arlington, Va. that touched on issues including foreign aid (which received boos), the debt, Social Security and national security, the three senators were often as critical of their own party as they were of the Obama administration.

Here’s the video of the event:

Karl Rove continues his war on fiscal conservatives

Earlier this year, Karl Rove created some controversy when American Crossroads, his super PAC, announced plans to launch a new organization — the Conservative Victory Project — to help so-called “electable conservatives” get elected in Republican primary races.

The move was clearly aimed a the Tea Party and other grassroots conservatives, which have played a significant role in primary races across the country as they backed fiscal conservatives over establishment-leaning incumbents and candidates. To put it differently, if Rove had his way, candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee would have never been elected.

Well, Karl Rove has done it again.

During a discussion about libertarian Republicans, Rove told fellow panelists that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is the “most liberal Republican” in Congress.

“There’s this tension between the kind of libertarianism we’re seeing here today — in the last six, eight, nine months — and a healthy future for the party. The question is gonna be — I welcome the libertarian influence in the party,” Rove told the panel, which included Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. “I grew up in the west…every western Republican has a healthy does of libertarian in them. But the question is whether it’s gonna be the prudential, to use one of my favorite terms, a prudent leadership of the libertarian movement.”

Times Free Press Round Table: “Is Sarah Palin an effective voice for the right?”

The Times Free Press, a Tennessee-based newspaper, asked author Victoria Jackson, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and myself about Sarah Palin’s return to Fox News and whether or not she does more harm than good to the Republican Party.

Here’s my response:

Sarah Palin is still an influential figure in the conservative movement. She has significant influence among the grassroots and can help fiscal conservatives in the mold of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul win primaries against establishment candidates. That sort of clout is hard to dismiss or downplay.

Recent comments made by Palin about the need for Republicans to listen to libertarians were encouraging. She sees an ally in the fight against a government that is a threat to our liberties and the need for Republicans to take a libertarian direction. That’s somewhat inside baseball, but important in the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

Palin’s influence is in the primaries, which is important. But when voters step into the ballot box on Nov. 4, 2014, they’re going to care little about her or what she’s said. What will matter to them are the effects of the policies that have been pursued and enacted by the Obama Administration.

What do you think about Palin’s return to Fox News and her impact on the Republican Party? Let us know on United Liberty’s Facebook page.

Sarah Palin: Republicans should listen to libertarians

One of the more interesting discussions in currently raging in American politics is the debate over conservative-libertarian fusionism. It’s not exactly a new discussion, but rather one that has renewed interest among followers of both political ideologies.

As libertarian-leaning Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) — gain influence in the party and appeal among independent voters, there is an increasing push for conservatives and libertarians to work together on areas of agreement. There has been resistance, of course, from some on both sides. Some prominent Republicans are resistant to some libertarian ideas that conservatives seem to be coming around on, such as restrained foreign policy and privacy issues.

While not a venue for libertarian thought, Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Conference that Republicans should listen to libertarians:

“Something more is going on than your garden-variety government corruption, or even illegality,” Palin said. “As the left would say, this is shaping up to be a teachable moment. What’s going on says something fundamental about our relationship to our government.”

Libertarian Populism: How to Sell Ideas to the American People

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a big debate about the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. On one side you have the status quo — those who continue to grow government and get the United States in perilous military engagements overseas — and on the other, there is a new brand of fusionism that is gaining in popularity.

Ben Domenech, editor of The Transom, has dubbed this new fusionism as “libertarian populism,” which is part of the debate over conservative reform. In a response to a recent critique by Ross Douthat, Domenech outlines the tenets of libertarian populism and explains that it presents a path for limited government advocates to sell ideas to voters:

The appeal of libertarian populism is that it refuses to cede the philosophical battle to the side of big government – and the permanence of a broken welfare/regulatory state and convoluted tax code – before the argument is even joined. Instead, libertarian populism can and should be cast in the proper light: the sober reality of our dire fiscal situation; the abject brokenness of our welfare state; tax, education and regulatory systems that retard economic opportunity, punish success, hurt the poor and middle class, and reward cronies; and a federal government that wants control over almost every aspect of our lives, from the raw milk we drink to the lightbulbs we use and the toilets we flush.

United Liberty Is (Cato) Unbound!


Every month, Cato puts out a new issue of Cato Unbound, an online journal that looks at various topics. This week, the topic is fusionism, something that has received quite a bit of attention here at United Liberty.

The format of Cato Unbound is quite simple. One writer contributes a lead essay, and then three other writers write response essays. Then, it descends into a furball as we all starting writing shorter response posts to each other. The discussion is not just there, however; blog posts elsewhere will be linked, and everyone—yes, including YOU!—is encouraged to join in the discussion.

Our lead essay this month is written by Jacque Otto, a friend of mine and a writer at Values and Capitalism, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. She writes:


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