Those who care about “executive experience” when picking a presidential ticket may be shocked to find out the most experienced group is the potential Libertarian Party ticket of former Republican governors Gary Johnson and William Weld. Weld, who was Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997, is expected to announce today he’ll seek the Libertarian nomination for VP. Via The Boston Globe:
The two former chief executives are expected to announce their partnership Thursday in New York City, the Johnson aides said, the latest sign of the national Republican Party’s struggle to come to grips with the party’s takeover by presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump…
Weld’s strategy, according to people with whom he has spoken, is to take advantage of the anticipated media attention paid to two former governors from different parts of the country joining forces, hoping to win sufficient support to land in the televised debates.
If that bank-shot approach works, Weld, according to those who have spoken to him, and Johnson hope to deny Trump — as well as the likely Democratic nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
It ought to be noted Johnson is polling in double digits in two national polls, which means he’d be on the debate stage if/when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump finally face off. Johnson’s pick of Weld isn’t necessarily a bad one, although Brian Doherty at Reason notes Weld might fall into the “libertarian-ish” camp.
We need government as “a safeguard of our property” but also to “help us better our lot, to act as an economic catalyst. When I was the governor of Massachusetts, we used taxpayers’ money to stimulate growth in biotech and telecommunications, two high-end industries that were tailor-made for the state because of all the universities.”
He believes that in the cases of those industries, “government had a legitimate role in stepping in to address what I saw as a market failure.”
Weld also talks up government’s role in “redistributive justice,” applying it first to education, where he thinks it’s wrong for richer localities to have more money for schools than poorer ones…
He goes on to praise government’s role in righting wrongs, such as “slavery” and “Second-class citizenship for women.” (Those wrongs were of course government-caused or at least government-buttressed, which Weld doesn’t point out but many Libertarians might be likely to.)
Johnson has already run into complaints of being non-libertarian on some issues like cake baking and banning the burqa, but he is the most recognized candidate versus Austin Petersen and John McAfee (Petersen is personally my pick). If the Libertarian Party wanted to run on name recognition alone, then Johnson is your guy and Weld’s pick as VP will help with that name value. Plus, it’s 16 years (combined) of government executive experience versus Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s zero (unless being Secretary of State counts as “executive experience). That’s a fantastic card to hold up, if they even make it on the debate stage.
The most interesting thing about a potential Johnson-Weld ticket is whether it will actually cause a fracture in the electoral process. The LP ticket actually could end up being the lifeboat for dissatisfied Republicans (and some Democrats), but it depends on whether Johnson and Weld make a debate stage or two. If they do, then they can present their idea of what America should look like (lower taxes, fewer regulations, less war) and show how it’s different from Trump or Clinton/Sanders. This might attract people who actually are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” and show they don’t have to just go to the GOP or the Democrats in November. It won’t attract social conservatives, but Johnson-Weld could bring them in by pointing out they’re perfectly happy with states making decision on abortion and want the government out of marriage completely. The two could also attract social conservatives by saying they believe the best way to stamp out abortion is through social change (i.e. protests outside clinics) and making it easier for people to adopt or foster kids. It’s not a perfect solution, but certainly one to consider because it doesn’t bring the “heavy hand of government” into the equation at all. Weld could definitely help Johnson in New England and who knows, maybe protege Charlie Baker (the current Massachusetts governor) will endorse him. That’d certainly cause some shock waves.
An Irish friend of mine here in Texas lamented how the problem with American politics is it’s dominated by two parties, whereas European politics has multiple ones. He thinks the only way a third party could actually become viable is if their candidate won the presidency, and told the other parties, “Okay…now we sit and talk.” That might work, although there are more than a few challenges for third party candidates to conquer before getting to an election. Still, the possible Johnson-Weld ticket isn’t a bad thing and just might make November that much more interesting. We’ll find out more after Memorial Day when the Libertarian Party holds their convention.