Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bill Weld: Libertarianism Is Not Centrism

Bill Weld speaks, Caryn Ann Harlos listens. ||| Matt Welch
Bill Weld (right)
by Matt Welch

Bill Weld has become such a prominent fixture at Libertarian Party events over the past year, while also doing the party-building work of endorsing candidates and raising money, that most of the drama has been drained from the former Massachusetts governor's interactions with activists still miffed at his November 2016 pre-election character-vouching for Hillary Clinton.
So it came as little surprise Saturday at the Massachusetts state Libertarian Party convention in Springfield that Weld's lunchtime talk did not include any mea culpas about his campaign conduct. But what did come in the sharpest focus I've seen yet from the possible 2020 presidential candidate is an admission of fault, not on behavior but on strategy and messaging.
"When Gary Johnson and I ran," Weld said, "I think we may have overestimated how easy it was going to be to make our case. I can remember Gary saying on day one, 'Well, you know, we're socially welcoming and we're fiscally responsible, and one of the other two parties is not socially welcoming and the other one is not fiscally responsible, so we've got a six-lane highway right up the middle!'...I think that might have been a fundamental error."
This, mind you, from the candidate who told me a year ago that he had no regrets about the comportment of his campaign, not even the late-breaking Clinton business. (He did say in July 2016 that "there are a couple of answers [about Clinton] I have given in the media appearances that we've done that I would like to have back.")
But the six-lane repudiation is part of an ongoing messaging evolution and/or belated ideological realization that the Libertarian idea is not moderate, not pragmatic, but instead its own distinct, sometimes radical ideology that nonetheless has the best practical policy answers to the problems people care about...
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