In most presidential election seasons, the occasion of the Libertarian Party convention doesn’t tend to garner much media attention unless the next most interesting thing CNN has in the queue involves two unlikely animal friends. This year, however, their big shindig in Florida has been drawing the attention of all the networks. The reasons are obvious, but let’s at least give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Under the latest scheme that’s been cooked up, the hope is that Gary Johnson will be their presidential nominee. But now, the folks who are most opposed to Donald Trump have been trumpeting a powerhouse veep pick for Johnson in the form of two term GOP governor (and decidedly not Big L Libertarian) William Weld. Taylor was going on and on about this “executive experienced ticket” more than a week ago for some reason, and I suppose it makes at least some sense if you’re hoping to find a way to finally get that party taken seriously in a national election.
But as you might expect, the hard core Libertarian faithful didn’t give Weld a particularly warm reception on Friday. (Politico)
But here in the corridors of the Rosen Centre Hotel and Resort at the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, it could all fall apart as anti-authoritarian Libertarian Party activists, loath to be defined as “Republican-lite,” are increasingly and loudly critical of Weld, who joined their party only weeks ago.
Johnson seems to sense his dream ticket could be in trouble. The former two-term governor of New Mexico was booed at a convention forum on Thursday for calling Weld “the original libertarian.”
“A big hurdle for us is surviving this weekend and being the nominees,” Johnson told POLITICO in an interview on Friday. “Anything is possible. Bill is the first one that recognizes that.”
Things only went downhill when Weld attempted to speak for himself and when Johnson continued to try to make the case for him. One highly unpopular subject was the fact that Weld has been a Libertarian for all of about five minutes and previously seemed to give the party little more than the back of his hand.
Sparks flew at a Thursday forum in which one of Johnson’s top challengers, Austin Petersen, who recently scored the endorsement of longtime Republican operative Mary Matalin, challenged Johnson on his Weld pick: “In 2012, he didn’t endorse Ron Paul, he didn’t endorse you, he endorsed Mitt Romney. In 2016, he endorsed John Kasich. Why didn’t your VP pick endorse you?”
At Friday’s debate, one of Weld’s rivals for the vice presidential slot, Larry Sharpe, used his closing statement to appeal to the crowd’s anti-government instincts.
“Do you have to have government experience to be in government?” Sharpe asked.
“NO!” cheered the crowd.
I think that those who have little interest in either Johnson or Weld as anything other than another tool to damage Donald Trump’s chances at the presidency are finding that the Libertarian convention delegates aren’t quite so easily bulldozed. And as for the actual Libertarians… why would they care? They’re not going to actually elect a president in any of our lifetimes unless there’s an earthquake level shift in national politics after this highly unpredictable cycle. They are once again being used as shills for somebody else’s cause and it’s hardly the first time that’s happened.
The reality is that this ticket helps nobody but Hillary Clinton. How can you tell how bad this ticket would be for the GOP? Just look at who’s pushing for it. Right off the bat, real Libertarians think it could make the Libertarian Party viable again, but not actually win the election. That, by itself, probably isn’t enough, so let’s check in on The Daily Beast where we learn that Johnson-Weld is a ticket sane Republicans can get behind. (Yeah… that sounds like somebody who’s really looking out for the best interest of the GOP.) Philip Bump at the WaPo feels that it could be a swell idea to Stop Trump. Of course, since the ticket won’t pull enough votes to actually carry a state, it may cost Hillary a few votes in blue states she’ll win anyway, but mostly it will just drain support from Trump.
Johnson will likely make it through as the nominee, but Weld is a question mark. Remember that the Libertarians don’t have a system where the nominee gets to pick their own running mate. The convention delegates will take care of that. (We’re not having some politician tell us who the running mate will be. AM I BEING DETAINED?) But let’s say that both of them win through and form the third party dream ticket. Support them if you like, but please spare us the pretense of saying that this proves you’re trying to stop Hillary Clinton from being elected. If you’re that clueless you really shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle, say nothing of voting.
The media will play these guys up as much as they can because 99% of them want Hillary Clinton to win and this will essentially give the Democrats a four person ticket. Fair enough as strategies go, but if you’re going to support them, go into it with your eyes open.