Why Ken Cuccinelli deserved to lose

7 Nov
Another version of this was published at VA Right.

I spent the last two weeks handing out literature door to door in Arlington, Virginia and the last few days going to events in southern, central, southwest and far west Virginia for the Sarvis for Governor campaign.  I’ve been to Bedford, Chesterfield, Chesapeake, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Annandale, Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Harrisonburg, Reston, Winchester and Roanoke.

I’ve met a lot of Ron Paul supporters who supported Robert Sarvis, who was polling at 8-13%.  The polls were all very inconsistent, some showing the Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, at 51%, some at 45%, and the Republican, Ken Cucinelli, anywhere from 39% to 44%.  Cuccinelli closed the gap toward the end, when his handlers finally let him take his balls out of the box, awakened by the public outcry against Obamacare as it was implemented.  MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said given another week of campaigning against Obamacare failure, Cuccinelli might have won; but it is also true that if he had started being aggressive a week or two earlier he might have as well.  Rather than own up to this GOP failure, the consultants and the talk radio spinners are blaming the Libertarian.


Libertarian Robert Sarvis got the biggest chunk of his vote, over 40%, from people who said they would otherwise not vote, probably not unlike the kind of vote Ron Paul turned out for primaries and caucuses.  This is important to note since in reply to this discussion, Norman Singleton, a longtime staff economist in Ron Paul’s Congressional office and a current staffer at Campaign for Liberty, insisted that it is “conventional wisdom” that Libertarians take Republican votes.  Warning Bell #1 – a Paul functionary approvingly quoting “conventional wisdom.”  In one poll, one third of Sarvis voters had Cuccinelli as a second choice and a fifth had McAuliffe as a second choice.


In the last two weeks, a somewhat desperate Cucinelli campaign attacked Sarvis, usually with weird and irrelevant picayune issues: that one of his unpaid staff tweeted a response to a Ron Paul organizer pointing out that she was a devotee of a recherché Beckian conspiracy hypothesis; another Ron Paul organizer posted 6 seconds, not even a full sentence, from a wonky Sarvis answer, onto YouTube, making it seem that Sarvis favors a new tax (Robert Sarvis has three policy papers on the Mercatus Center website calling for less spending and less regulation); others charge that Sarvis is not really a libertarian because he said he studied all schools of economic thought, not just Paul approved Austrian economics;  or just the general cry that Sarvis is a spoiler causing McAuliffe to win.  On this last point the Cucinelli Paulistas were so desperate to get another 2% for Ken from the Sarvis vote that they ignore the evidence that if Sarvis weren’t there some of his voters would also increase McAuliffe’s total.  In the end, the Libertarian spent less per vote than Cuccinelli did since all spending for Sarvis was $380000 and Ken spent $15 million. He spent almost 45 times what they did. But he got less than 7 times their vote. And he didn’t have to first spend his money to collect 18,000 signatures to get on the ballot.


So apparently Republican candidates aren’t cost effective.

On the last day of the campaign Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze reports that an Obama supporting high tech donor gave money to a PAC that gave to the Sarvis ballot drive, and every conservative chattering monkey from Hannity and Chris Plante on down has called this a dirty trick and said Sarvis is created by the Democrats to hurt the GOP.  Even though the Virginia Libertarian Party always gets on the ballot, including for gubernatorial races, with or without a donation from a Democrat.  And even though the biggest independent expenditure for Sarvis was from the all libertarian Purple PAC, $300,000 for radio and TV ads in the last two weeks of the campaign (and overlooking that Sarvis gave his own campaign twice as much as this Obama affiliated donor).  As one Paul organizer said of why she is supporting Cuccinelli, “personnel is policy.”  She’s right.  Ken Cuccinelli deserves to lose; the GOP infrastructure supporting him is shot through and through with liars and smear merchants.  Note well by the way all the conservative media outlets, The Blaze, Breitbart, and DC’s WMAL that spread last minute questions for and charges against Sarvis never interviewed him earlier or had him on their air.  And their friends kept him out of the debates where these issues might have been aired.  Should such a Nixonian GOP be rewarded with victories?

As to Rand and Ron Paul, it’s funny that Paulistas assume that they know how voters will vote, and how they will vote given their changing expectations about the outcome.  Their own Austrian economics says they don’t and that their attacks on Sarvis represent, as their hero FA Hayek entitled two of his books, “a fatal conceit,” and “a pretense of knowledge.”   Surely some voters change their vote, giving it to or taking it from an independent candidate, depending on who they think is winning.  The Paulistas assume that votes are static and a zero sum game, in direct contradiction to their Austrian economics, which would instead suggest that competition and markets are dynamic and a discovery process, where a new “firm” or a new “product” like the Sarvis campaign, actually increases the size of the market and the number of market participants, and where these new entrants as well as everyone else discover what they want to “buy” during the process of the campaign, not before entering it.  But the Paul’s assume they possess this knowledge, and that they can centrally plan the liberty movement. Norm Singleton has told me that my use of the phrase “central planning” is a smear on the Paul’s.  But the problems of central planning related to decentralized information are known to apply to large firms in a market economy, which may be so big that their internal operations, no longer run by prices, become dysfunctional. And since Paulistas encouraged us to get behind the GOP, now once again shown to be unpopular, shot through with liars, and a flailing failure (unwilling to really fight, until the very end of their campaign, when it was too late), it looks like this is a case of dysfunction.  This hubris led them to waste a lot of time attacking, and even lying about, Sarvis, instead of competing for votes with McAuliffe.  Including ironically charges that Sarvis is not sufficiently Austrian (is Ken?) or is too moderate and wonky and doesn’t oppose taxes (didn’t Ken Cuccinelli’s administration and governor just raise taxes?)


Now the Pauls no doubt have good reasons to support Ken Cuccinelli.  He quashed a move to change the election rules during the Virginia primaries last year, when only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul did the onerous work to make it onto the Virginia ballot and Newt Gingrich and other slackers asked for special favors to be put on without collecting signatures and doing the work.  (That is, all the other Republicans in that primary were kept off the ballot by the same restrictive ballot access laws the Libertarians face every election, which is why Robert Sarvis aimed for 10%, to get the Libertarians permanent ballot status and free them from annual petition gathering, by complying with the Republican co-authored ballot access law which requires them to get 10%.)  This “favor” (of obeying the Virginia law) that Cuccinelli did Ron Paul must be repaid.  And presumably a Governor Cuccinelli would have been helpful to a 2016 Rand Paul presidential effort.


The Paul’s and their groups, like Campaign for Liberty, have decided that they must centrally plan the liberty movement.  They know best, and like Obama or some other statist, they want to collectivize our eggs and invest them all in one basket, the GOP.  As anyone who knows me knows, I am only supportive of Paulian efforts, from Rand’s anti-NSA petitions, to C4L kids protesting Syria, to recruiting candidates like Thomas Massie and Justin Amash.  And I would support any William Proxmire or Eugene McCarthy type Democrats who try to liberate Democrats from the Borg that controls them, should these extinct species reappear.  And the Paul’s and others are free to PERSUADE us that their strategy is the best, or even only, one.  But when they start lying and spinning, though it is not coercion, it is akin to the demand of the central planner that they know best and we must invest all in their 5 year plan, even if we think it may fail.

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