Why are Libertarians helping elect crony capitalist Terry McAuliffe in Virginia?

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney makes an important point in his latest column: “Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli would arguably be the most libertarian governor in the United States if he wins on Nov. 7 — which makes it odd that he’s become a top target for many libertarians.”

“As attorney general,” Carney continues, Cuccinelli “led the states aiming to kill ObamaCare, with all its mandates, taxes, regulations, subsidies and intrusions. He wants to cut the state income tax rate by 15 percent for individuals and 33 percent for corporations.”

Ironically, though, Cuccinelli is the target of libertarians, who are running a sacrificial lamb candidate as spoiler. Libertarians, therefore, may very well end up being responsible for electing a real crony capitalist and Bill Clinton buddy named Terry McAuliffe.

(If there was any question about this, having won the glowing praise of George Will, it is now clear the majority of Robert Sarvis’ votes will come at the expense of Cuccinelli.)

What does this all mean? First, the fact that Cuccinelli is having base problems is indicative of how absurdly far the “purity” litmus test has gone. It’s also a sign that — in some quarters, at least — Republicans will be made to pay for holding socially conservative positions. (It’s no longer enough to have libertarian-leaning positions, one must also eschew traditional conservative positions in order to be deemed acceptable.)

“I asked Sarvis why a libertarian should oppose Cuccinelli, writes Carney, “and the first words out of his mouth were ‘social issues.’ [pro-Sarvis libertarian and Cato Institute co-founder Ed Crane’s] only critique of Cuccinelli when announcing the $300,000 buy for Sarvis: ‘Ken Cuccinelli is a socially intolerant, hard-right conservative with little respect for civil liberties.'”

Intolerant? Let me give you a good example of what happens when someone like Cuccinelli drags his morals into the public square. As attorney general, Cuccinelli fought to get a wrongly-accused man out of jail — and focused on compassionate conservative issues like human trafficking and child pornography. (If you doubt his sincerity, his youngest son is named Maximilian William Wilberforce Cuccinelli — after Maximilian Kolbe and William Wilberforce.)

It sounds to me like the libertarians are the ones who aren’t tolerant … of Christians. “Cuccinelli is undoubtedly conservative,” Carney concedes. “He’s an observant Catholic with seven children and a home-schooling wife. He’s a hero to the pro-life cause and an opponent of gay marriage.”

As Carney notes, until recently, traditional conservatives and libertarians could coexist, inasmuch as their positions weren’t incompatible. For example, Ron Paul and Rand Paul are both pro-life (and both have endorsed Cuccinelli):

“Libertarians, as a rule, support gay marriage, and most libertarians are pro-choice. But pro-life views fit within the libertarian framework: If you believe an in utero baby is a person, and if you believe the government has a legitimate role in protecting the innocent from violence, it’s logical to restrict abortion.”

In Virginia, at least, that logic is out the window. So much for fusionism?

If Cuccinelli loses next Tuesday, the spin coming out of the MSM will be that a). his loss is a rebuke of the tea party, and b). Cuccinelli was a uniquely bad candidate.

To be sure, this was not a flawless campaign — and the government shutdown certainly didn’t help his cause. But that likely MSM narrative is, of course, simplistic.

Cuccinelli has had to overcome numerous obstacles, including moderate Republicans like Bill Bolling (who resent having him as the nominee), the Gov. Bob McDonnell gifts scandal, and the fact that he has been outspent by a wide margin.

The fact that Cuccinelli has to also fend off a Libertarian challenger is simply one more obstacle to overcome.

And, perhaps, one too many.

Note: Matt Lewis has known Ken Cuccinelli for a decade. Additionally, his wife formerly worked as a consultant for Cuccinelli’s state senate and Attorney General campaigns. 

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