When you think of libertarianism, the names of former Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), legendary economist Murray Rothbard, and 2000 presidential candidate Harry Browne typically spring to mind. These men forever changed libertarianism and added to the national conversation on a diverse array of issues. In 20, 30, or 50 years, there will be many who will wonder what these individuals would think of certain present-day subjects, such as foreign policy or economics.
The same cannot be said of former Governor William Weld (R-MA), the 2016 Libertarian Party running mate of former Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM). Nobody is going to ask in a few decades: “Humph. What would Mr. Weld think about this policy?”
But some of the esteemed political minds of today believe that Weld and his politics of gun control, central economic planning, and foreign interventionism are exactly what the Libertarian Party and America need come 2020.
Writing in The Washington Post, George Will poses the question: “Can this libertarian restore conservatism?”
It is a strange query on two fronts. First, is Weld even a libertarian? Second, does conservatism even need to be restored? It must have been a slow news day when Will penned the column.
That said, Will thinks Weld “is ready for prime time.” He opined:
“So, if the Libertarian Party is willing, 2020’s politics could have an ingredient recently missing from presidential politics: fun. And maybe a serious disruption of the party duopoly that increasing millions find annoying. Stranger things have happened, as a glance across Lafayette Square confirms.”
Judging by Will’s assertions, Weld’s statements two years ago, and Johnson’s claims that Weld is the “original libertarian,” the meaning of libertarianism has ostensibly been lost.
The Non-Libertarian Past of Bill Weld
Weld has yet to make any formal announcements, but it seems, if the reports are true, the former governor is gearing up for another run as a member of the Libertarian Party in a couple of years. This might be a frightening development for the diehard Libertarians who have utilized the 50-year-old brand to advocate abolishing the Federal Reserve System, ending the drug war, and staying out of the internal affairs of foreign nations.
The idea of having Weld helming the party may have served its purpose in 2016 – raising money – but does it achieve anything in 2020 and beyond? It can only water down the message and turn the party into a Republican-lite manifestation.
He lacks the most elementary of libertarian credentials:
- Opposed a ban on partial-birth abortions.
- Endorsed a prohibition on assault weapons.
- Supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
- Backed eminent domain initiatives as governor.
- Supported the Patriot Act.
Worst of all, towards the end of the 2016 election, Weld went on national television and “vouched” for Hillary Clinton. He told MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow:
“I’m here vouching for Mrs. Clinton, and I think it’s high time somebody did.
I have a lot to say about Mrs. Clinton that has not been said by others and I think needs to be said. I’ve known her for 40 years. I know her well professionally. I know her well personally. I know her to be a person of high moral character, a reliable person, and an honest person, however so much Mr. Trump may rant and rave to the contrary. So I’m happy to say that. And people can make their own choices.”
That’s bad. Not only did Weld, representing the Libertarian Party, concede defeat days before the election, he championed Clinton as some paragon of rectitude. Say what you want about President Donald Trump, but at least there were some aspects of his campaign that pleased libertarians. How exactly would Clinton have advanced the cause of liberty?
But Weld wants a second chance, telling Reason that the 2016 campaign helped change his mind on several important issues, including foreign policy, though he admits he is still an internationalist.
Should Libertarians give it to him?
Who Could Lead Libertarians in 2020?
There has been talk that eccentric software millionaire, John McAfee, may explore another bid. A porn star by the name of Cherie DeVille is another contender being discussed. Adam Kokesh, an entertaining veteran who wants an “orderly dissolution of the federal government,” is preparing for a “Not-President” run in 2020. Should he lose his New York gubernatorial campaign, Larry Sharpe may be a candidate Libertarians can get excited about.
No matter who wins the nomination, it is unlikely that he or she will win the White House. America is entrenched in a two-party system, and that will not change anytime soon. So, why risk your principles to nominate a LINO (Libertarian in Name Only) just to please establishment Never-Trumpers and cozy up to The New York Times and The Washington Post?
The pro-Weld crowd believe the issues core to libertarianism are beneath them. You won’t hear Weld talk about eliminating eminent domain, eradicating anti-trust laws, exiting NATO, or ensuring businesses have the right to refuse service to customers. Libertarian-lite candidates just want to espouse on politically safe and expedient policies: legalizing marijuana, leaving Afghanistan (maybe), and fiddling around with the tax code.
As Tom Woods recently noted, Weld is a stuffed shirt.
Make Libertarianism Great Again
When Dr. Paul brought libertarianism into the mainstream with his 2008 and 2012 didactic campaigns, he did so by not taking the easy approach. He challenged establishment Democrats and Republicans on foreign, fiscal, and monetary policy. His battle with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is remembered to this day.
There were many people who said they liked Paul’s libertarian streak, except for his foreign policy. He could have garnered more votes if he defended the empire’s gross foreign adventures, but he refused, and he stuck to his fresh, exciting, and principled positions. Paul has still left a mark on the Republican Party – no one is saying today: “Gee, I wonder what Duncan Hunter thinks.”
Let’s be honest: with President Trump attracting conservatives and libertarians day by day, the Democrats looking like a train wreck of a political party, and socialism gaining popularity, libertarianism is on life support right now. There isn’t an appetite to audit the Federal Reserve, adopt a non-interventionist foreign policy, or legalize all drugs. So, what can the Libertarian Party do? That’s easy: ditch Weld and embrace men like Kokesh and Sharpe. That’s how you can make libertarianism great again.
Do you like Bill Weld? Do you think the Libertarian Party has a shot in 2020? Let us know in the comments section!