I’m just getting around to reading this astonishing interview with Reason.com and Gary Johnson and William Weld. It’s truly a depressing read for anyone who is contemplating casting a protest vote for the Johnson/Weld ticket – or even a serious vote for them as the lesser of three evils. You read this interview, and if you accept Weld’s word as being equivalent to Johnson’s, or expressing Johnson’s view, it’s tremendously depressing. Weld hasn’t apparently changed a bit from the days when he was a big government Republican who was liberal on both social and fiscal issues, and Johnson would do well to shut him up if he’s in the least interested in either libertarian ideas or expanding their voting base.
Let’s get right to the parade of horribles. First, on the Supreme Court:
JOHNSON: Really, there are going to be no litmus test. You’re going to appoint good people, and you’re going appoint people that look at the Constitution of original intent.
WELD: Well, I don’t think you have to panic and say it has to be a way lefty or way righty. Steve Breyer has been a good justice. He was appointed by Democrats.
GILLESPIE: A Massachusetts guy, right?
WELD: A Massachusetts guy. Merrick Garland, I think, would have been a very good pick, and he’s nominated by Obama.
Johnson’s answer is pretty good. Weld’s is awful, and if Johnson disagrees with him he should tell him to shut up about it. Breyer has been a “good justice” in the sense that he hasn’t been openly corrupt and he’s reasonably intelligent, but he’s also a doctrinaire liberal who has stood blithely by and endorsed the massive expansion of the Federal government and the administrative state in particular. His jurisprudence shows no respect for any even theoretical limit of the commerce clause. His philosophy isn’t conservative, and it sure as hell isn’t Libertarian. What is Weld even driving at? This country doesn’t need two Democrat parties.
Moving on to which members of Congress they like. Again, Weld steps all over Johnson and alienates virtually everyone.
GILLESPIE: You mentioned far-right and far-left people in Congress. Who are current members of the Senate and the House that you think you can work with? Because if you guys come in, obviously you’re not going to have a libertarian Congress.
JOHNSON: I think there is a real opportunity to, not naming names, but just–
GILLESPIE: Name names! Name names.
WELD: Rob Portman, obviously. Kelly Ayotte. Susan Collins, the best of all. Mark Kirk on the Republican side. A guy, he’s a challenger, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Not saying I’m endorsing him, but he’s obviously a person of substantial ability.
GILLESPIE: So these– But, you’ve named people like Collins. But most Republicans and, even I think, most libertarians would say Susan Collins is terrible. She votes for more spending. She is not great on the Second Amendment. She’s a wishy-washy, kind of country club conservative. You disagree, though?
WELD: Yeah, I do.
This is, again, an appalling answer from Weld. And Gillespie is right to point out that Susan Collins is one of the most terrible people in Congress, from both a conservative and a Libertarian perspective. Weld is just engaging in rank nostalgia for the days when he and his fellow country club, big government Republicans had a constituency. Well guess what? They don’t, and Weld’s idiotic pining is alienating possible voters from both the left and right side of the spectrum.
Weld goes on in this interview, doing his best Trump impersonation, blathering about how he’s going to bring on Republicans and Democrats, but the “best” Republicans and Democrats, whatever that means. Johnson finally steps in and reminds Weld that they are supposed to be Libertarians, not just spineless Republicans:
WELD: Let’s talk about Washington if we win, if we get in there. I think it will almost be a relief for members of Congress to have us not being tendentious, not coming in saying, “This is how it’s got to be.” We will hire the best of the Democratic Party, the best of the Republican Party, the best of the Libertarian Party and the best of all of those unaffiliated with any party. I almost think that would be appreciated by Congress so they won’t have to think, “What’s my party say I’m supposed to do?” They’ll be able to think, “What should I do?” That would be a big change.
JOHNSON: And I’ll just tweak that a little bit. Republicans, Democrats with a libertarian bent.
Let me tell you, the Republicans with a libertarian bent are not Susan Collins or Mark Kirk. The only people in the Republican caucus who are even marginally interested in reducing the size, scope, and intrusion of the Federal government are people like Cruz, Lee, and Rand Paul (who bizarrely does not even get a mention from Weld).
It’s just ridiculous. Libertarianism used to mean actual, identifiable things. Not things that I necessarily agreed with all the time, but in principle it stood for impulses that should be honored. Gary Johnson has made a huge mistake inviting William Weld to his ticket because he apparently believes that it now stands for just bipartisan, middle-of-the-road compromise between Republicans and Democrats – people like Susan Collins and Mark Kirk. No one is crying out for that and in fact those people are a huge part of the reason for the acrimony of this election so far this year.
Leave it to the Libertarians. They have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remove their party from the fringes and they blow it by putting this buffoon Weld on the ticket. Look, I get that a Libertarian is going to have different ideas from a doctrinaire conservative and I am not expecting them to say that they want to nominate a Scalia clone and that they love Ted Cruz. I would expect them to at least say they would prefer a Posner or an Alex Kozinski or someone who is, you know, Libertarian. And if they are going to praise members of Congress I would expect them to trot out Rand Paul or heck maybe even Ron Wyden if they wanted a Democrat to throw in the mix. Susan freaking Collins and Stephen Breyer? I already have Hillary if I want to hear this pablum, guys.