Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson tapped former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his pick for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 vice presidential nomination. Though ardent Johnson supporters laud the move as making the Libertarian Party ticket “viable,” there has been a strong backlash from those who do not believe Weld is libertarian. Analysis of Weld’s policy positions gives credence to the detractors. Delegates to the Libertarian National Convention ought to consider Weld’s history carefully when they meet to select a ticket at the Convention later this week. They may just be on the verge of making a gun-grabbing big government neocon, a standard-bearer of the party.
Weld’s position on the Second Amendment has received the most mention from detractors. As governor of Massachusetts in 1993, he backed what The New York Times then declared as “some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country.” His proposals included a statewide ban on assault rifles, limits on the number of handguns one can own, and lengthy waiting periods for handgun purchases. Weld’s support could be understandable given the status of Massachusetts as one of the more liberal states in the nation, but Weld started his political career supporting gun rights and won election as governor with that position. According to The Times, he seemingly changed his mind after seeing several polls suggesting it would help him politically to back gun control.
In his recent message to Libertarian delegates, Weld spun his earlier support for gun control. Saying he “was deeply concerned about gun violence” and that “governing involves tough choices,” Weld described the aforementioned gun laws as “modest restrictions.” Perhaps Weld meant that he had “deep concerns” about his chances of re-election, that “governing” is all about maintaining power, and that “modest” is a synonym for “most stringent.” Weld doubled down Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, arguing the Second Amendment protects weapons used for hunting but not weapons without “any hunting purpose.” Thus, he promoted the all-too-common misconception that the Second Amendment concerns hunting, when, in fact, it protects We The People against totalitarian government.
Weld’s big government impulse goes beyond his views on gun control. He worked as a foot-soldier in the War on Drugs in President Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department, which he fondly recalled as late as 2005. Though he supports medicinal marijuana, he is on record opposing the legalization of drugs, including recreational use of marijuana. Moreover, he supported tough EPA regulations in 1994, backing what The New York Times described as “strict tailpipe emission standards,” and endorsed setting quotas requiring automobile companies to manufacture electric cars. Continuing his support for government-mandated quotas, in 1996, Weld was listed in The Washington Post as a prominent Republican supporting affirmative action programs. His big government positions have not gone away with time, just three months ago, he said he’s always been in favor of a “universal mandate” for health insurance.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most obvious display of Weld’s big government record is the political endorsements he made. He endorsed President George W. Bush for re-election in 2004, despite Bush’s big government policies on civil liberties, particularly the USA PATRIOT Act and domestic surveillance programs. In 2007, he endorsed fellow big government “Rockefeller Republican” Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, choosing him over libertarian Congressman Ron Paul. In the 2008 presidential general election, he endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama, whose platform included a barrage of big government economic stimulus. In 2012, Weld again endorsed Romney, this time over the man who now wants Weld to be his running mate, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee.
Weld outdid himself for the 2016 Republican nomination when he endorsed Jeb Bush for president. Not only did he favor Bush over small government Senator Rand Paul, who, unlike his father, had a good shot at winning the nomination, Weld insiders explained to the Boston Herald that Weld “agrees with most of [Bush’s] views.” In other words, just eight months ago, on September 26, 2015, Weld agreed with most of Bush’s platform, which, at the time, included such big government, neoconservative gems as confrontation with Iran, endless intervention in the Middle East, and meddling into Cuban affairs.
Perhaps most concerning of all is Weld’s own neoconservatism. He touts himself as an “active” member of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations, and serves as co-chair of its Independent Task Force on North America, whose ultimate goal is the social and economic “integration” of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, a so-called “North American Union” similar to the EU. He has a record of supporting the interests of Mexico above those of the United States, including advocating for the use of $25 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds to “bailout” Mexico, and turning his back on the people of Massachusetts in 1997 by resigning as governor in a failed effort to help his unrealistic attempt at becoming U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Often overlooked is Weld’s enthusiastic support for President George W. Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy, which included the invasion of Iraq, during an appearance on Charlie Rose in 2004.
There it is. Weld’s public record confirms he is the gun-grabbing big government neocon Libertarians fear. Of all the actual Libertarians available, why would the Libertarian Party want Weld to represent them? Just because that is what Gary Johnson wants? Let this serve as a wake-up call to Libertarians. Perhaps Johnson is not the best candidate for the Libertarian Party. After embracing political correctness, supporting a public ban on burqas, and wishing to force Jewish bakers to bake Nazi-themed cakes, maybe Weld will be the straw that breaks the camel’s Johnson. Or maybe not. We’ll soon find out. The pertinent information is all available above for the delegates to consider.
- David Gordon, Rothbard on Weld, Mises Wire, May 22, 2016.
- Robert Eno, 5 Statist Positions That Should Make Libertarians Run from Bill Weld, Conservative Review, May 19, 2016.
- Jesse Walker, William Weld Isn’t a Softcore Libertarian–He Just Isn’t a Libertarian At All, Reason Magazine, May 19, 2016.