Few people outside of libertarian economists have heard of Albert O. Hirschman, but he is perhaps one of the most important political theorists of the 20th century. His book, Exit, Voice and Loyalty, has spawned whole intellectual circles and even an annual event in Austin, Texas – the “Voice and Exit” conference. The underlying concept is simple. There are three ways consumers can respond to a decline in the quality of goods (including governance):
- They can spend their dollars elsewhere or “vote with their feet” and leave the area. This is Exit.
- They can speak up — writing letters, picking up the phone, standing in the picket line, and last but not least, voting at the ballot box. This is Voice.
- They can stick around, hoping that things will improve. This is Loyalty.
A large swath of New Yorkers will predictably choose option 3 this November, sticking with the tried and failed policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo, simply because he has the endorsement of the Democratic party. The crowded field of candidates includes the virtually unknown Republican Marc Molinaro, as well as Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, who is trying to outflank the incumbent from the left. Molinaro is polling at a pitiful 23%, and is widely considered a “sacrificial lamb” of the GOP. This would bode well for Cuomo, except that Lambert threatens to siphon off votes if she takes her candidacy to a third party, leaving a vulnerability that a rising libertarian star may take advantage of.
Larry Sharpe has a message for the caravan of ex-New Yorkers heading to Florida and elsewhere in escape of high taxes, bad schools, and a broken legal system. There is another option besides “Exit” and “Loyalty.” Sharpe is giving millions of New Yorkers a voice that many of them previously never knew they had. It is the principled voice of liberty, rejecting tribal allegiance to the two parties in favor of a practical live and let live ethos.
Support Larry’s campaign for #aNewNY here, and listen now:
“[A] libertarian is someone who says you can be as liberal or as conservative as you want to be; just don’t force others to be like you.”
— Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York
Sharpe narrowly lost the Vice Presidential slot to former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld in 2016, but even then, Weld acknowledged that the future of the Libertarian Party lay in the hands of people like him. Sharpe is a successful businessman and Marine Corps veteran. He issued a stern warning to the entrenched interests in New York City, like the unionized MTA subway workers, who earn 5 times the prevailing wage at the expense of taxpayers. Sharpe knows how to negotiate, and will not be bullied by the threat of a subway strike.
This shakedown is funding Cuomo’s campaign. The MTA’s union brags that Cuomo is “their candidate,” and their political gifts are keeping him in the lead — for now.
In an interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie, Sharpe confessed that just a few months ago, he did not feel the race was winnable. Today, however, with the crowded field and his strong fundraising efforts, Sharpe has a fighting chance at pulling one of the greatest political upsets of all time.
Even if he garners 10% of the vote in the deep Blue state, Sharpe can have a sizable impact on the state’s politics by putting pressure on Republicans to stick with limited government, and on Democrats to lead on civil liberties. Already, Sharpe is introducing thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of voters to an unwatered-down version of libertarian philosophy, based on the non-aggression principle.
Where principled philosophy meets practical policy
“My north star is a totally voluntary society. But to be forward with you, our nation is nowhere near there.”
— The Rubin Report
Sharpe’s governing philosophy is a blend of libertarian principle and business experience. He compares reforming the system to peeling off bandaids on top of bandaids — sometimes, removing a particular government “solution” makes things worse, forcing politicians to be strategic about which battles they pick. He is focused on winning single-issue voters with clear-cut libertarian positions. That’s why he’s picking a fight with unionized public transportation workers, and campaigning on a platform of school choice, gun rights, and affordable health care delivered by a free market.
Gun control laws, like the NY SAFE Act, make felons out of normal Americans who possess firearms or accessories that have legitimate hunting and self-defense uses. Sharpe wants to end this and other laws that punish people for victimless crimes. Although the libertarian party may seem broken, he is choosing loyalty to the platform in order to give voice to the victims of a bloated government and its draconian penal system.
This election will be a perfect test ground for Bob’s theory that most people are actually libertarians — they just don’t know it yet.
How You Can Help
Among who have heard of him and know his positions, Sharpe is polling phenomenally well. In other words, New Yorkers really do just want to live and let live — they just don’t realize that there’s a viable candidate suggesting that kind of change. Aside from listening to the show and sharing the listen live link, you can support Larry’s campaign by giving a donation in either dollars or crypto-currency.
To get the word out about his candidacy, Larry needs people to spread his vision for #aNewNY on Twitter, and Tell @NYGovCuomo to #debateLarry.