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October 31, 2013

Robert Sarvis, the Fake Libertarian Candidate for Virginia Governor

Oh, he's libertarian enough as regards the standard policy preferences of the Democratic Mandarin Class.

But as Charles C. W. Cooke notes, that doesn't make one a libertarian. You'd expect a libertarian to also speak up in favor of some limits of government power over the individual in areas apart from sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

But not this Robert Sarvis character:

In a recent Reason interview, Sarvis explained that he was “not into the whole Austrian type, strongly libertarian economics,” preferring “more mainstream economics” instead. The candidate expanded on this during an oddly defensive interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, in which he seemed put off not so much by “strongly libertarian economics” as by libertarian economics per se. As governor, Sarvis told Todd, he would be hesitant to cut taxes, unsure as to how he might “reduce spending,” and open to indulging the largest piece of federal social policy since 1965 by expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program. I am generally a critic of the tendency of small-government types to try to purge their ranks of those deemed sufficiently impure, but I must confess that this interview left even me wondering whether Sarvis is in need of a dictionary.

Worse yet was Sarvis’s rambling interview with the Virginia Prosperity Project, in which the candidate expressed his enthusiasm for increasing gas levies, and for establishing a “vehicle-miles-driven tax.” It strikes me that it is almost impossible to square such a measure with any remotely coherent “libertarian” position on that most sacred of rights: privacy. Virginia’s mooted VMT plan requires the installation of government GPS systems in private cars — an astonishingly invasive proposal. Even if this isn’t what Sarvis has in mind, the fact remains that there is simply no way of determining how far an individual has driven without the government’s checking. On Twitter, an amusing fellow with a username not fit for print in this column responded to this idea by contending: “I’m no extremist, but if you put a black box in my vehicle and tax me per mile I will burn down everything you’ve ever loved.” What sort of “libertarian” doesn’t feel this way?

So this is quite something, isn't it? He's not even a real Libertarian drawing votes away from a more libertarian conservative (as Charles C.W. Cooke finds Cuccinelli to be); he's simply a flat-out big-spending, big-government, abortion-absolutist progressive, and yet still he's drawing votes away.

I guess this is why Ron Paul is intervening -- to let actual Libertarians know that the nominal Libertarian in the race is not libertarian at all, and that the conservative candidate actually is libertarian.

Via @rdbrewer4.

Update: Sarvis disputed Charles Cooke's portrait of him and explained himself in an interview. He claims he actually is libertarian on economic issues, but for some reason couldn't express them during TV interviews, or didn't have the time to do so.


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posted by Ace at 02:00 PM

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