Sorry to bring this to an end. Wish I had time to get to more questions, but I will add more issue statements to my website, which will hopefully provide some answers.

Comments: 315 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

3000factory31 karma

If you could require the larger party candidates to publicly discuss one issue in this race that they are currently not talking about, what would it be?

RobertSarvis84 karma

Probably the Drug War.


Thank you for doing an AMA! As a Libertarian myself it's sometimes difficult to avoid wanting to use the state to coerce other individuals. It seems like there is often a reason in which it seems justified like welfare or the environment. What issue, if any, do you believe requires government force to correct as opposed to liberty?

RobertSarvis-3 karma

Well, I'm not really keen on getting into a philosophical debate about pure libertarian theory. (I know... I know...) Generally, I'm in this race to move policy in a libertarian direction—greater freedom, both economic and personal. Virginians aren't all libertarians, but I believe the vast majority do want someone to stand up for freedom and the rule of law, because we have gotten so far away from them. I accept that we're going to have a lot more government than I and other libertarians think is necessary, and I focus on the best policy solutions within the world of what's politically feasible.

Brad_Wesley77 karma

That's one hell of a non-answer

RobertSarvis12 karma

Yep. I'll leave it to the libertarian philosophers to answer that. I'm focused on moving policy in a better direction... I know that's not satisfying, but that's how I see it.

Brandma18 karma

As a fellow northern Virginian, I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and running!

I have been noticing small examples of even traditional media displaying their disappointment with the choice of McAuliffe or Cuccinelli , but third party candidates tend to always run into a wall brought on by our plurality-takes-all system of voting where voters would rather vote for the lesser of two evils. I include myself in that category of voters as somebody who would much rather vote for you this November but is hesitant, because I am afraid of unintentionally helping my least favorite of the two. So, what would you say to convince me and other voters facing a similar dilemma to vote with my heart?

RobertSarvis54 karma

Well, the polls that included me show my votes are fairly equally spread between a) those who would otherwise vote R, b) those who would otherwise vote D, and c) those who would stay home b/c the D & R choices are so bad. So you don't need to be too concerned about "helping" your least favorite by voting for me. The chances your vote proves the difference b/t your least favorite and your next least favorite are very low, whereas every vote for me will be a wake-up call that government needs to focus on FREEDOM, the rule of law, and protection of our rights. The whole point of elections is we have to punish bad government. When both major parties are serving the interests of monied backers, we have to vote against them. If we don't have the will to do so, we deserve the continued depradations.

DiggerMT16 karma

Do you want to legalise the use of drugs for personal use!

RobertSarvis35 karma

That's certainly preferable to the current Drug War. I think legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do and within reach in Virginia.

thejerkface15 karma

Mr. Sarvis, as a registered voter of Prince William County I had originally planned on voting Republican which would mean Ken Cuccinelli which I can't bring myself to do.

Now that I know you are running as the third party candidate I'd like to know what you would do to make schools in Virginia safer without the gross over reactions that have affected children in this state? Such as the two boys in Suffolk who were suspended for pretending pencils were guns while they played.

RobertSarvis20 karma

Right, the discipline process has gotten out of control in many jurisdictions, esp with a lot of zero-tolerance rules that make it impossible to be a kid and make mistakes.

I'd like to see universal school choice result in more ppl being able to escape the system entirely. As for changes to the public school system, a lot of the problems are at the local level, but I do think there is room for state-level changes ensuring due-process rights for parents of children involved in the disciplinary process. And I think this is part of a broader issue of overcriminalizing/overpenalizing our lives and making government officials/employees adversaries of private citizens.

CoJoPo15 karma

On your website, you say you would prefer "user fees" as opposed to general taxes. What do you mean by "user fees?"

RobertSarvis14 karma

Generally, users of a service or infrastructure should pay for it rather than being subsidized by taxpayers who don't use it. E.g., a bridge across a river can be paid for by those who cross the bridge rather than by money from the general fund...

BaronVonCrunch15 karma

User fees are frequently good ways to internalize the cost of consumption of government services. However, there are also times when the transaction cost of user fees is simply too high to make it viable. It may be more efficient for society to pay for something through taxes than, say, to collect 25 cents from every car that crosses some road or bridge.

Where and how do you draw that line?

RobertSarvis14 karma

It seems to me technology is rapidly reducing the transaction costs that make this a major issue, but I'll accept your point and also note privacy concerns about those same technologies. Certainly, I would want the line to be drawn according to economic calculation not political interests, for the kind of tax to be chosen that best approximates the user fee (the transportation bill moved in the OPPOSITE direction, in several different ways), and to include the incentive for technological innovation in reducing those transaction costs as a thumb on the user-fee side of the ledger.

CoJoPo8 karma

Using your bridge example, how would you go about implementing that? Tolls at every bridge?

I get what you're saying, and I like it. You say you prefer a consumption tax, which I do as well. But I feel like the "user fees" you talk about are a bunch of unnecessary tax burdens, which we already have a ton of here in VA.

datcv9 karma

I think people would support user fees if it meant their overall tax burden would go down. One of the advantages of user fees is that they also get out of state people who use our highways and infrastructure to help pay for the costs, rather than just Virginians bearing the costs.

RobertSarvis19 karma

Right. Ppl are suspicious of tolls and other user-fees b/c politicians end up using them as an additional revenue source, rather than offsetting/reducing the tax burden...

CoJoPo3 karma

But user fees in addition to a consumption tax, which we already have now in the form of a 5.3% sales tax, along with income tax is too much tax. Do you advocate user fees in addition to a consumption tax? Plus, with a consumption tax, this would effect fuel too, so shouldn't we earmark any consumption taxes collected on fuel for road infrastructure, therefore alleviating the need for a "user tax" for said bridge?

RobertSarvis9 karma

Elsewhere, I say I'd like to reduce or eliminate the income tax. Also, the current sales tax has a narrow base—it applies only to goods and not services, and some classes of goods have special exemptions with lower rates. Broadening the base enables lower rates.

But more specifically, the point made above is right, the user fees should result in the reduction of the tax burden.

Winterred15 karma

Congrats on the Johnson endorsement! I wish we had a viable Libertarian candidate in my state.
What would you say is the best way to support candidates like yourself? Also, what have you learned, so far, about getting your name and agenda out there? Thanks for the AMA!!

RobertSarvis25 karma

Thx. a) Donations, and b) spreading the word, are the most helpful. I don't need to raise $10m like the other candidates, but voter awareness is the biggest hurdle. I gather that is true of most third-party candidates. In a state with 8m ppl, 4m voters in Pres. elections, 2m voters in Gov. elections, it takes resources to get the word out. That's especially true when you're trying to get all the folks who will stay home because the major party candidates are so bad. A lot of them won't stay home if they know I'm in the race!

gonzoimperial13 karma

Richmond resident here. I agree with much of your platform and intend to vote for you, and I often talk you up with my more liberal friends who can't stand McAuliffe. They agree wholeheartedly with your positions on the drug war and gay marriage, but flinch when I tell them about school choice. What would you say to those who suggest that promoting charter schools and vouchers would just damage our already unimpressive public school system?

RobertSarvis19 karma

I haven't heard a convincing argument for why charter schools and vouchers will damage the public school system. I often hear ppl say they take money from the public school system. But voucher programs don't usually provide MORE money than is spent per-pupil in public schools, usually it's substantially less, so they leave as much or (usually) more money, per pupil, to be spent on those remaining in the public schools.

Public schools can in many cases better focus on the needs of those students who remain, and a more competitive and vibrant market in educational services can give examples of innovation that other schools can copy.

One thing I would worry about is regulation of the private schools that basically cartelizes them so that the subsidies are simply captured by the schools in the form of increased prices, so it's important to reform (in many cases eliminate) accreditation/regulation that tend toward that effect.

Presidentmahon13 karma

Given that you're running as a third party candidate, what message are you trying to get across to Virginian voters?

RobertSarvis18 karma

Virginians need to stand up and demand freedom and the rule of law. Economic freedom and personal liberty. A Virginia that's Open-minded and Open for Business!

rayjirdeoxys6 karma

Just out of curiosity, are you going to try to reach the more rural parts of Virginia? I'm in southwestern VA and would love to hear more about your political platform.

Edit: I actually JUST found out that you came to the fairgrounds in the town I live in back in July. I now regret not going to the fair on that Friday.

RobertSarvis10 karma

Which town, Dublin? Yea, I am traveling the state. I've put around 9k miles on my van, most of it in the past month. I'll be back around your neck of the woods, no doubt. Hopefully doing a big campus tour throughout the Fall.

rayjirdeoxys4 karma

That's awesome! May I request a nice stop at Radford U? I'm a Music Business major there.

RobertSarvis8 karma

Please send an email to [email protected]. We'll make sure it goes to our campus coordinator, so he can work with you to make it happen. Thx!

Darnobar12 karma

Have you ever changed your stance on any issue since you became a politician?

RobertSarvis54 karma

Well, it's only been two years since my first run. The only issue that comes to mind is the value of the GOP here in Virginia. I ran for State Senate in 2011 as a Republican, but I'm now a Libertarian, and the reason is that for people who believe in freedom, the Va GOP (in its current form, at least) isn't worth a warm bucket of spit.

durfsmurf11 karma

Mr. Sarvis, I would usually ask about policy, but your being a third-party candidate, I mostly wonder how you are planning to present your message to the average voter. I think that this race is a really good opportunity to present libertarianism as a legitimate option compared to the other candidates who are either extremist or uninspiring.

For example, it seems to me that Libertarian candidates often focus on things like drugs and gun rights, but there are many issues that appeal to much wider group, like federal spying on Americans via email or drones, and transparency with tax expenditures. I think that focusing on issues like these would increase your appeal and decrease the image of the Libertarian party as being extremist, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

RobertSarvis15 karma

We're running a very mainstream campaign. In fact, in this race, the Libertarian is the moderate. Our slogan, "Open-minded and Open for Business", articulates a vision that is immediately understood by voters to mean that we are seeking mainstream, rational policies that respect both economic and personal freedom.

failsrus9610 karma

As the son of two hard working American citizens that came here to Virginia in the 80s as refugees from the Civil War that was going on in our native country of Nicaragua, how do you plan that Virginia should handle illegal immigrants who want to work and get an education here?

RobertSarvis30 karma

I would like to see illegal immigrants who came here to earn an honest living be brought within the law, be given equal protection of the law, be given a status that enables them to remain here, and be given the opportunity to contribute to the culture and economy of Virginia. I would also like to see legal immigration greatly expanded, so that more people are able to come to the US and Virginia, and fewer people have to resort to entering illegally. And I would welcome both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants.

ljsaint2429 karma

If you are elected governor, what specific tax tactics would you put in place to lighten the burden on the Average Virginian , what specific governmental cuts are proposing to make and what specific regulations do you intend to do away with to revive Virginia's economy : How are these ideas ( the Libertarian State Economic System ) different from that of the Republican and Democratic plans, or as Libertarians say the " Democratic-Republican Plan ".

RobertSarvis12 karma

I'd like to get rid of a lot of inefficient business taxes, substantially reduce (if not eliminate) the income tax, and move as close as possible to a true consumption tax—uniform (no exempted industries or classes of goods/services) tax on all retail sales of goods and services. Would like to end the very-unpopular car tax, reform the property tax.

I propose getting rid of all subsidies of specific industries, getting rid of discretionary funds like the Opportunity Fund, which create opportunities for political patronage and corruption. I'd get rid of any regulations that serve to protect private profits rather than the public interest. Eliminate Certs of Public Needs already discussed elsewhere. Eliminate or reform occupational licensing. Promote farm/food freedom. Lots more.

Of course, I can't make promises on what the General Assembly will go along with, but I'll work hard to move us toward greater freedom and especially more rule of law.

degeneratenews8 karma

Thank you for doing this Mr. Sarvis!

What are your thoughts on the revival of Virginia's anti-sodomy law?

Can you see any logical reason for such a law to be in existence? (seriously, is there a lot of unwanted sodomy happening in Virgina?)

RobertSarvis22 karma

I think it's preposterous. I believe Cuccinelli is on the record as favoring anti-sodomy laws AS SUCH. Now he is pretending that resuscitating the law is merely to protect young people against sexual predators. Never mind that there is already a statute with that aim, and that Cuccinelli previously voted against fixing the law to serve that aim. Even if Cuccinelli were being totally honest about his intentions, he needs to explain when he became a strident judicial activist, since he's asking judges to rewrite the law from a morals law applicable to all consenting adults into a protection-of-minors law. I thought we'd moved away from new common-law crimes...

torche727 karma

What would be your first act as governor?

RobertSarvis18 karma

Well, Day One is the day after the election, and I will reach out to legislators...

Zombiecub7 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! I work at a hospital that could potentially open an Acute Inpatient Rehab Unit to benefit those who have suffered injuries/illnesses such as fractures, strokes, heart attacks ect. The major road block is Virginia Certificate of Need program, which is against the free market and limits consumer choice. What are your views on this program, and if elected would you help fight to end it?

RobertSarvis17 karma

We should end Certificates of Public Need. I've said so explicitly in multiple venues and will continue to do so. Among many regulations that insulate market incumbents from competition...

IBeStrokin6 karma

Do you think the drug war is fueling illegal immigration from people fleeing to the US to escape narco-states?

RobertSarvis12 karma

Sure, it certainly adds to the many things in other countries that result in the economic disparities that make the US so attractive. I would point out that the drug war also results in a well-funded, well-armed, innovative criminal enterprise one of whose explicit business goals is to find weaknesses in our border security, which makes human trafficking easier and surely also makes the terrorism threat worse.

jetpacksforall6 karma

How do you see PPACA affecting Virginia as the Federal health insurance exchange comes online in 2014, and what would you do as governor to ensure that Virginians have access to affordable, effective health care?

RobertSarvis5 karma

I think further federalizing health care regulation is a terrible idea. Federal laws, regulations, and tax treatment are the principal reason health-care is so messed up, and this law (and the regulations that have and will come from it) is moving us further in the wrong direction.

I would like to see more policy freedom at the state level. I would like to see us move our health-care spending toward catastrophic rather than comprehensive insurance, greater focus on mental health (which has high returns to public spending), and cash subsidies (which give recipients more flexibility in how to meet their health-care needs and creates a more competitive market for health-care services).

I would also like us to reform occupational licensing, so we aren't limiting and compartmentalizing the supply of health-care professionals; get rid of ill-advised regulations like Certificates of Public Need; and many other reforms at the state level.

HoistTheGrog6 karma

Signs. Every time I go to vote or pass other voting locations, I never see Libertarian candidates signs. I realize money has a lot to do with this but how is it overlooked by so many third party candidates? Voters who do not identify as Libertarians aren't going to consider candidates on a ballot when there is no advertising. It sounds awful but I believe it is the truth.

RobertSarvis8 karma

It's probably a matter of both money and people. There are a lot of polling places out there, and parties other than the Rs and Ds often simply don't have a robust network of people in place to be able to get signs distributed and put up at all the polling places. Even the major parties have problems doing it and manning polling locations throughout the day in areas where they are heavily outnumbered. Moreover, when you aren't able to run candidates regularly, and you lack the resources (in part b/c a lot of resources are needed just to get on the ballot), it can be very difficult for third parties to develop and retain the institutional knowledge relating to polling locations, precinct captains, reliable volunteers, etc, etc.

221915 karma

What is the most pressing issue that Virginia will face in the next few years?

RobertSarvis8 karma

I'm guessing a continued slow-growth, low-employment US economy coupled with fallout from federal fiscal issues (fed spending is a very large portion of Va's economy) plus continued growth in health-care spending.

lordyjordy5 karma

How do you feel about the suit Cuccinelli brought against the University of Virginia and do you see yourself protecting the right to research in sensitive areas.

RobertSarvis13 karma

I think it shows he's willing to politicize the AG's office to burnish his credentials among his supporters.

captainguinness4 karma

This was posted on the Libertarian Facebook page, but usually an AMA requires more proof, like a tweet from your verified account or a message to the mods. Just to make sure people are not impersonating you!

Anyway, I'm not from VA so questions are tough. If you had to summarize your platform in a few sentences, what would you say?

RobertSarvis7 karma

I sent the mods proof over the past week. Thought that would be indicated.

wuzze323 karma

Is there anything that we can do to help you get in any future gubernatorial debates such as contacting debate sponsors, hosts, and the major political parties themselves? (at last I checked, Cuccinelli and McAuliffe have only agreed on two more debates between each other)

RobertSarvis9 karma

The biggest thing is keeping our poll numbers rising. Getting people aware of the campaign is the biggest hurdle. So, 1) donations & 2) awareness (word-of-mouth, social networks, doorhangers/flyers/bumper-stickers/yard-signs, etc).

zachswain2 karma

With a legislature that will largely be Republicans and Democrats, how do you plan to enact an agenda? The governor has limited power over laws, but short of just putting a stop to bad laws, how will you work with the established parties to get things done?

RobertSarvis11 karma

I think a third-party Governor can potentially be in a better position than a major-party Governor b/c the D-v-R obstructionist dynamic doesn't have to be there. With some skill, we can get the best of policy from the Ds and Rs without the worst of either. Plus, a Libertarian winning the Governor's race would shake things up enough to bring Ds and Rs to the table on various issues, since they have to respond to the electorate and the fact that they were so roundly rejected. With all 140 legislative seats challenged by well-funded LP candidates, that can focus incumbents' minds...

odduse_of_language2 karma

For the record, although I remember you already answering this question in person, what is your position on the death penalty?

RobertSarvis19 karma

I'm not morally opposed to it in theory, but I have huge reservations with it in practice, for a variety of reasons (ulterior motives of prosecutors, induced testimony of witnesses given plea deals, (un)reliability of eyewitnesses, etc). I don't necessarily think it should be illegal but it should be reserved for rare occasions.

datcv2 karma

What were some of the more important things that learning economics (I am a fellow MA grad from GMU) taught you that may have contrasted with the things that are taught in law school? Many of the lawyers I have met often believe that society can built and shaped entirely by the laws they dream up, regardless of human nature and the laws of economics.

RobertSarvis5 karma

Most of my economics education came before law school, and I'm naturally skeptical of high theory anyway, so I wasn't drawn to some of the courses where I would have gotten some of that stuff. I'm of the "a page of history is worth a volume of logic" persuasion, and my courses probably indicate that. But I agree, a lot of law professors, law students, and lawyers are economically illiterate, and that creates problems since so many people in government are lawyers...

anon932 karma

As a northern virginian who is against phase 2 of the metro expansion, would you pull out virginoa's funding?

RobertSarvis3 karma

Well, my understanding is that the ridership isn't there to justify it, not even close; that funding via tolls on the toll-road is unfair; and that the real problem is MWAA, which is in charge of major Virginia infrastructure yet Va has only a minority membership on the board. Seems like a recipe for inefficient use of resources.

IBeStrokin1 karma

Are you a member of any gun rights organizations?

RobertSarvis8 karma

I believe I re-upped my membership in the VCDL late in 2012.

(Note that I got the only VERY-PRO-GUN rating among the three gubernatorial candidates this year.

notoriousprod1 karma

Hi Mr. Sarvis, I live in Virginia Beach and look forward to casting my vote for you in November. I was wondering if you have any interviews or appearances scheduled here locally. Our local news/talk radio station WNIS often has candidates on and I'd love to hear you interviewed by Tony Macrini one morning.

RobertSarvis5 karma

I was on Tony Marcini's show a couple weeks ago and on the John Fredericks Show within the past couple weeks as well. We'll definitely get back there again soon. Please let us know of good events to have a presence at (by email to [email protected]).