Governor Gary Johnson announced this week his intention to have former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his Vice Presidential running mate. Weld a former Republican governor like Johnson has had a history running as a Libertarian. The mainstream media is seeing this ticket as a way to stop Donald Trump but we don’t see it that way. On the surface it looks like a blockbuster ticket for 2016, but while digging deeper we found some flaws with the former Massachusetts governor that calls into question our understanding of basic Libertarian principles.
As some might point out we ran an article earlier this week praising the idea of Governor Weld as the VP pick, but as we learned more information we are now retracting that assessment. As Reason pointed out in an article yesterday William Weld isn’t a Libertarian at all.
In the beginning it seemed like William Weld was an up and coming Libertarian star in the Republican Party when he held the line on spending and promoted the acceptance of homosexuals. It caused stir and controversy in the Republican Party and made him famous among the Libertarian wing of the party. But then that all changed.
Then Weld let spending go up anyway, and these days it’s a lot less unusual for an elected Republican to be gay-friendly. Meanwhile, Weld turned out to have a bunch of other positions up his sleeve. He had always been a law-and-order guy, and in 1993 that led him to endorse a ban on various “assault weapons” along with other state-level gun control measures. And in foreign policy—not a big deal for a governor, but kind of important in a presidential ticket—he showed his stripes in the 2004 election, when Weld was out of office but still came out for George W. Bush. Appearing on the Charlie Rose show 10 months after the invasion of Iraq, Weld acknowledged that he differed from the president on “some of the social issues” but declared that Bush had proven himself in the global sphere: “we face grave responsibilities, and I think he really has grown in office and risen to the international challenge.”
Those are far from Weld’s only anti-libertarian positions. But along with his support for the use of eminent domain in the Atlantic Yards land-grab, they’re the ones most likely to keep the Libertarian Party faithful from nominating him at the end of the month. (Remember: Even if Gary Johnson gets the party’s presidential nod, his VP pick still has to be approved in a separate vote.) Johnson is no one’s idea of a hardcore libertarian, but his instincts do steer him in a libertarian direction most of the time. Weld is more of a moderate “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” type, with “fiscally conservative” defined by Massachusetts standards and with “socially liberal” defined in terms a Michael Bloomberg could embrace. That may well be better than the average Republican officeholder of 1991, but when it comes to the 2016 race…well, if I wanted to elect an Iraq hawk for gun control, I could vote for Hillary Clinton.
That is some pretty inexcusable stuff right there! We know that not everyone is a true Libertarian (we did that story yesterday), but there is a point that makes you not a Libertarian, and that seems like that point.
Gary Johnson all ready has the credibility of being a strong Libertarian during his time as Governor of New Mexico. He cut spending, balanced the budget, left a surplus of money, vetoed over 700 pieces of legislation, and allowed business to flourish in that state. Choosing William Weld as a running mate is a strong choice. All the major news outlets are jumping on this ticket and even the Washington Post ran a story yesterday titled “Did the Libertarian Party just stumble upon a viable Stop-Trump ticket?”
Yes, the ticket is extremely strong with two successful ex-governors, but at what cost? Principle does matter, and Weld doesn’t meet the standards of bearing the weight of the Libertarian movement. We are all about growing the movement and winning this election, but not necessarily at the cost of principle.
William Weld will have to work hard convincing the delegates in Orlando next week that he is a Libertarian and worthy of being the party’s VP pick. We endorsed Gary Johnson, and right now still stand by that endorsement, but we can’t in good conscience endorse William Weld to be the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party.
(The Libertarian Vindicator retracts the earlier story we did on William Weld)
This video doesn’t help his cause either: