MORRIS: A missing piece

Virginia Senate debates for this coming election should include candidate Robert Sarvis

Last week, a fellow University student, Rebecca Kugler, criticized Senator Mark Warner for refusing to accept the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy’s invitation for a U.S. Senate debate with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie ahead of this fall’s election. Rightly so, considering that Mark Warner has sweepingly rejected debate invitations from universities across Virginia, such as Virginia Tech and George Mason. Kugler insists Ed Gillespie’s readiness to debate — in contrast to Mark Warner’s reluctance — demonstrates Gillespie’s superior devotion to public accountability.

However, Gillespie’s willingness to debate Mark Warner only reveals his own hypocrisy. Although he claims to be interested in “engag[ing] university students in the political process,” Gillespie has told debate hosts that if Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis is invited, he will not participate. Mark Warner is no different. Although Warner claims that he is open to a debate that includes Sarvis, Warner has only agreed to the two debates that he knew would not include Sarvis. That is cynical politics and we students deserve better. Just recently, a student group at James Madison University asked the Student Government Association to extend an invitation to Robert Sarvis for their upcoming debate. The responses of both the Gillespie and Warner campaigns effectively guaranteed they would refuse to debate if Sarvis were invited.

Isn’t it pathetic when a sitting Senator and a major-party challenger are both afraid to engage in debate?

Perhaps Ed Gilliespie does not want to debate Robert Sarvis because he knows Sarvis will call him out for not supporting the freedom to marry, a freedom which a majority of young Republicans support. Not only does Gillespie oppose marriage freedom, but he also supported a federal marriage amendment which would have limited marriage to strictly one man and one woman during his time as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Voters deserve the opportunity to hear Gillespie explain his flip-flop, especially as he accuses Mark Warner of flip-flopping on a balanced budget amendment.

Perhaps Mark Warner does not want to debate Robert Sarvis because he is fully aware that Sarvis will expose his weak stance on civil liberties. Warner voted for the renewal of the PATRIOT Act and against reforms that would better protect the privacy of Americans. But you won’t hear that from Ed Gillespie because Gillespie championed the exact same legislation as part of the Bush Administration.

Kugler rightly faults Warner for voting with Obama 97 percent of the time — he has not been the centrist he promised to be — but elides the fact that Ed Gillespie was an advisor in the George W. Bush presidency, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and a lobbyist for Enron and other corporations. He represents the worst of the big-government Republican establishment.

Kugler should fault Gillespie as well as Warner for being afraid to publicly debate. If Gillespie were sincerely interested in exposing students to a full range of policy positions, he would be less interested in joining debates that only display the platforms of the two major parties — platforms which are astonishingly similar in practice, if not in rhetoric. Robert Sarvis would point out the hypocrisies of both candidates and demonstrate why he is the best candidate for millennial voters.

For students who are interested in becoming exposed to the full range of political viewpoints, Robert Sarvis will be visiting our University next Wednesday, October 1st, to engage with students directly.

Michael Morris is a first-year in the College and a member of the Sarvis for Senate campaign team.

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