The Corner

Politics & Policy

Has Bill Weld Forgotten That He Is Running on the Libertarian Ticket?

In response to Arafat Talking Points

Jim is right to point out the weird behavior of former Massachusetts governor — and current Libertarian vice-presidential nominee — Bill Weld during this election season. Listening to him “vouch” for Hillary Clinton on MSNBC was particularly bizarre because no one is asking him to vouch for anyone other than his running mate, Gary Johnson. Over at Fox Business, Kennedy made it clear to Johnson what she thought of Weld. And this wasn’t the first time A few weeks ago, she put Weld through the wringer by asking him to justify his campaign motivations in light of his questionable behavior.

Her feeling is shared by many, as Matt Welch wrote yesterday at Reason. It’s even more annoying for libertarians like me who see this as such a missed opportunity to tell the country how the current situation within both parties has been a long time coming and to explain what libertarians have to offer. Before you start shooting at me, I will remind you that libertarians are not just ​pro–​pot legalization. They are also consistently clamoring for less government intervention in the economy, including the boardroom, and less spending, while also calling for entitlement, regulatory, and tax reforms.

I have explained before that the importance, in my opinion, of having libertarians on the ballot and having as many people as possible voting for them isn’t first and foremost about getting them elected. In fact, the libertarian movement has had its biggest victories by influencing the battle of ideas and by challenging the status quo, not by winning elections. As both Republicans and Democrats come to terms with the growing influence of voters with libertarian sensibilities, they will be forced to change in a more free-market direction and to acknowledge the importance of individual liberty.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch made that point well in its endorsement of Gary Johnson:

His person and his policies embody what either the Democrats or the Republicans ought to offer the electorate. . . . Johnson represents a future one of the major parties ought to adopt as its own.

Sure, it means that my ideal candidate (one that I agree with on every issue) or even a less-than-perfect libertarian candidate (one with whom I don’t agree with on every issue or even disagree strongly with on some) will probably never be elected president, but with time, patience, and hard work, I can see the GOP and the Democrats shifting in ways that I, as a libertarian, can applaud. That’s why William Weld’s behavior is such a bummer.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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