Vote for a meaningful change in congress

Robert Sarvis
Guest Columnist

Last year, I surprised a lot of people by getting 6.5 percent of the vote for governor despite running as a third-party candidate. But more importantly, I received 15 percent of the under-30 vote. Why? Because young people have been systematically underserved by the two-party system and want to vote for a candidate who has no ties to big-monied interests, who answers questions truthfully and substantively, and who has millennials’ interests at heart, whether it’s stopping corporate cronyism, protecting civil liberties, restoring fiscal sanity, reducing our debt burden, or reversing mass incarceration and police militarization stemming from our failed drug war.

More recently, a Christopher Newport University poll showed my support from under-35 voters has ballooned to 24 percent as more students learn about my campaign. And a Reason/Rupe poll shows that a majority of millennials are willing to vote for a candidate who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I’m the only candidate in the race for Senate that fits that description.

illustration by Della Sigrest

My eye-popping support from millennials for a third-party candidate absolutely terrifies the establishment in both the Republican and Democratic parties. It’s actually entertaining, though a little embarrassing, to watch them scramble for ways to reach out to millennials.

You see, your vote is most influential when you vote your conscience and show the major parties that you’re willing to withhold your vote from them when they’re behaving badly.

Young voters’ support for me last year explains why Ed Gillespie and Mark Warner are visiting colleges and touting their outreach to millennials. But they can’t run away from their records.

Make no mistake, the rhetoric of their campaigns is falsified by their records in government. Mark Warner has been in the Senate for six years, yet he’s only talking about student loan debt now, in an election year, and only offering vague platitudes?

Both Warner and Gillespie — and their respective parties — have supported huge deficits contributing to the $17 trillion debt, unconstitutional mass surveillance programs, a drug war that’s led to the highest incarceration rate in the world, endless war in the Middle East, and rampant cronyism and corporate welfare.

And they have perpetuated a crisis in higher education affordability.

You see, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what’s causing it, and Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie clearly don’t understand the problem. I have actually studied the economics of higher education and understand the causes of the out-of-control costs that drive student debt. I have offered a very different vision of higher education — and a path for getting us there — that can improve educational quality, reduce costs, and ease debt burdens on our young people.

The fact is, education should be getting less expensive, due to all the technological advancements at our fingertips. So why is it getting more expensive? Because we’re subsidizing particular types of institutions rather than individual people, and we’re pushing more and more young people into an outmoded model of higher education that was built for the last century. There’s also so much bureaucratic bloat in higher education and little incentive to reduce costs.

We need to champion a flexible, open, and competitive marketplace for educational services that offers greater diversity in preparing young people for the globally competitive future. We do that by investing in individuals, not in status-quo institutions. States should also try solutions like what Purdue University is doing with innovation prizes for academic departments developing three-year degree programs.

We also need to lighten the burden on young people through tax and entitlement reform, so students aren’t seeing their income taxed away to subsidize retirees. Student debt, plus a sclerotic job market, plus a high tax burden funding general wealth transfers is a triple whammy on young people. Mark Warner supports increasing the burden on young people, by making them further subsidize others through government-run health care, and through government programs that transfer wealth away from young people and increase the debt burden that will ultimately fall on those very same young people — you!

Mark Warner has been in the Senate for six years, but he hasn’t been a leader on this issue, or many of the other issues young voters care about. Take social inclusion and equal rights under the law. The Libertarian Party has supported same-sex marriage for 40 years, and I commend Sen. Warner for finally evolving on marriage freedom in the last year or two, but the fact is that he failed to lead on ending discrimination against same-sex couples in immigration policy — he was conspicuously absent when it came to cosponsoring the Uniting American Families Act that would have done just that.

On other vital issues like civil liberties, Mark Warner is completely out of step with millennials. He has repeatedly voted for the statutes that enable the government’s mass surveillance of innocent Americans and against reforms that would better protect privacy or promote transparency (reforms that former Sen. Jim Webb supported). I am the only candidate in this race even talking about this vital issue which has dominated national headlines for more than a year.

When you vote, recognize that the mess we’re in — fiscal irresponsibility and failure to protect civil liberties and personal freedom — has been supported by both major parties and both of their candidates for Senate. This is your opportunity to send a strong message, to Washington and our broken two-party system, that enough is enough. A vote for me, Robert Sarvis, is a vote for putting the public interest back into public policy, ridding ourselves of corporate cronyism, and investing in a more open, competitive Virginia political system.

Anything above 10 percent for me gets major-party status for a third party in Virginia, and with 40-50 percent of state legislative seats going uncontested, that can get third-party candidates in two-way races throughout the state and improve Virginia politics.

With polls showing a double-digit gap between the major-party candidates, this is the perfect election to use your vote wisely.

Vote against politics-as-usual. Vote for needed change. And vote your principles. Vote Robert Sarvis for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

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