This one time at Writer's Camp…
I meant to talk about this last week, but I was wrapping up a book and couldn’t find the time. Needless to say, after a week of watching everyone blame everyone else, I think this is the perfect time for the dissimulation of the Virginia elections.
First off, let me be clear: this is not an endorsement of Republicans or Democrats. I thought that both primary candidates were wrong for the job, and the Libertarian candidate was just too quiet to be much of a candidate. Hell, I’m a registered Libertarian and I didn’t even know he was running.
Here are the results of the 2013 Virginia Governor election.
- Terry McAuliffe (D) — 1,069,503 47.74%
- Ken Cucinelli (R) — 1,013,199 45.23%
- Robert Sarvis (L) — 145,967 6.52%
- Write-In (which someone wrote my name in here) — 11,509 0.51%
Now, the first thing that Republicans did after losing the election was scream at the Libertarian candidate about stealing votes, which usually happens whenever there’s a halfway-decent third party candidate involved. The numbers even say that’s what happened. “If Sarvis hadn’t run, all those votes would have gone to Cucinelli!” some Republicans have shouted (arrogantly and ignorantly, let me be clear about that). Look back at the 2000 elections and say the name “Nader” around Democrats and you will literally see steam shoot out their ears. Or in 1992 when Ross Perot ran for President. Both times a third party came in and did what they were supposed to do, which is why political parties exist in the first place — to upset the status quo.
I’ve seen calls for the banning of third party candidates from future elections, because these short-sighted idiots think that Republicans and Democrats are the only parties who really matter and have been around forever (seriously, these are some of the arguments I’ve see). They forget that both the Democrats and Republicans started out as third party (the Democrats were originally Democrat-Republicans who were formed to oppose the Federalists, while the Republicans started off as the Whigs, who had broken off from the Democrat-Republican Party) and that, while both sides may crow about how we’re a “Constitutional Republic” or a “Democracy”, eliminating the option of a third party simply relegates our country to a two-party oligarchical plutocracy (which, to be fair, it has pretty much turned in to in the past 30 years or so), with all the power in the hands of a relative wealthy minority, voting be damned.
When was the last time you saw a candidate for any office above the House of Representatives who wasn’t a millionaire? Think about it. There’s approximately 16.6 million millionaires in a country of 330 million. That’s us, selecting our senators and presidents, from a pool of 4.8% of our population. Seriously. Math skills for the win.
Now, everywhere I’ve looked, I’ve seen Republicans crying foul about Sarvis and how the Democrats bankrolled him. If that’s the absolute truth, then congratulations DNC for taking a page out of Karl Rove’s book. But we already know it’s not the truth, because you simply need to look at the Lieutenant Governor’s race to see what truly happened.
- Ralph Northam (D) — 1,212,791 55.11%
- E. W. Jackson (R) — 980,158 44.55%
- Write in — 7,688 0.35%
Those numbers, along with exit polls which seemed to favor McAuliffe 50%-43% if Sarvis hadn’t been in the race, suggests that McAuliffe was hurt more by Sarvis than Cucinelli was. If not for Sarvis, the election would have been heavily in favor of McAuliffe, instead of the tight victory. But you wouldn’t know that was the case if you listened to Republicans, which I find truly sad. If the Republican party had actually backed Cucinelli instead of tossing him to the wolves when Bill Bolling had dropped out of the race, the Tea Party-backed candidate might have actually won. If they had addressed the attacks that McAuliffe was making against him, instead of running away, then they might have had a chance. If they had refused to allow the Democrats to control the message and topic of the election, things might have been different. As it were, things didn’t work out that way and now, instead of fixing the problems hindering the Virginia Republicans, they choose to blame a third party.
Third parties are scary. They’re unpredictable. Usually they don’t owe a multitude of favors to special interest groups for helping elect them. That means they actually (for now, at least. One day this will change, undoubtedly) listen to the voters instead of toeing the party line.
Holy crap, right?
That scares the established parties. They like being in power, and like it more than they like their voters. The whole structure of a political party is to elect the person the party likes the best (hence, primaries, where the most rapid left-wing and right-wing candidates are trotted out which appeals to 10% on either side of the spectrum, while alienating the other 80% of America). It’s why the Republicans have distanced themselves from the Tea Party, while the Democrats have launched an all-out war against them. It’s why everyone derides Libertarian as “anarchist pot smokers”.
So was this election a referendum? Yeah, but not in the way they think. Sarvis gained the most votes ever by a Libertarian in a VA governor election. It’s a wake-up call to the establishment, reminding them that they serve at the behest of the people, and not for themselves.
Edit: after I posted this last night, my buddy KB turned me on to the broadcast which got Judge Napolitano fire from Fox News. I sat down and listened, and within a minute discovered that Napolitano was saying the same thing I had alluded to last night, only he said it better. I’m going to share the link to the video here. I hope you listen to it, it’s a fascinating speech.