Robert Sarvis: The Image that Defied Policy Substance


    In a perfect world, political candidates running for office in Virginia named Robert Sarvis wouldn’t be far-right libertarian ideologues hiding behind the farce of moderation.  As Virginia’s very own governor has demonstrated, however, we are far from living in a perfect world.

    We are living in a world where the image is rarely the real picture of truth. And so it with Robert Sarvis, the libertarian candidate in Virginia’s contest for governor who has slowly captured more attention from the mainstream media of Virginia with his shadowy political positions, his relative youth, and his heavily underdog status.

    What is interesting about some of this ‘coverage’, however, is the lack of political positions that Robert Sarvis is asked to discuss. Instead, the main story is about a plain-ol’ Virginian trying to take on two political goliaths. As has been pointed out by Lowell Feld, however, if Virginians knew about some of Mr. Sarvis’ political positions (or lack thereof), they probably wouldn’t be as enthused about his entry into the governor’s race (at least 8 percent).

    Mr. Sarvis can prove me right or wrong by letting Virginians know where he stands on issues pertaining to the environment, corporate spending in politics, the social safety net, and so on. In the case of environmental positions, his website doesn’t even list the environment on his “Issues” page! Again, it’s for the best because we know what the ‘free hand’ of the marketplace will reap upon this beautiful planet of ours.

    I don’t know where, when, or how substance became a back-issue in Virginia politics, but if we want to retain the integrity of our democratic system of government, we’re going to have to be serious about holding candidates for political office accountable for building their campaigns on an image and not a positive vision. If we value the great experiment that is popular politics, we’re going to have to focus on the issues that can make and break our way of life, not primarily the personality of the individual running for elected office.  

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