Bill Weld

The Weld (Ballot) Meld

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Former Republican Massachusetts Governor William Weld, who was in the early '90s often talked about as a libertarian-leaning GOPer with his basic sort of fiscally conservative, sort of socially liberal combo, is now talking seriously about connecting his current GOP run for governor of New York with the Libertarian Party as well–in a ballot fusion move, since the New York Conservative Party, which Republicans often claim, is taken. Stephen Gordon over at Hammer of Truth has some links and begins summing up the interlibertarian debate about Weld's bonafides. (He's apparently not 100 percent on eminent domain and full drug legalization.)

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  1. I suppose one must accept not being one hundred percent at times, though the question is on what. It seems that SOME drug legalization is a worthwhile step forward, even if too lukewarm for many Libs’ taste, though any compromise on Eminent Domain may be unacceptable to many. So what’s more important, possibly winning an election or making a principled stand?

  2. Depends on whether you want to win elections or change things around.

  3. Drug legalization at the state level is pretty much moot since it is illegal on the federal level. But the bully pulpit would be nice if another governor was pro-choice on drugs, or on some drugs, or on a drug.

    I lived in MA when Weld was governor. This in a massively Democrat state with a massively Democrat state legislature. For the most part he difinitely moved things in a libertarian direction, although he didn’t even try to push on everything libertarian. “Everyone” was saying the state had to raise taxes after the Dukakis cooking of the books in the “Massachusetts Miracle” prelude to the 88 presidential nomination. Weld didn’t. He couldn’t get tax cuts by the people’s republic legislature, so he abolished tolls on the Mass Pike (a tollway) at several exits, slashed Registry of Motor Vehicles fees etc., whatever the Dem’s couldn’t block.

  4. Oh yeah, he was a self-described libertarian way before it became the “in” thing.

    He also did his best at the whole outsourcing thing of government employment and did things like slash the number of state funded hospitals.

    Not perfect, but better than the whoever the Dem will be, and infinitely more “electable” than whoever a “pure” Libertarian might be on the ticket otherwise.

    By the way, I hate the whole electable/not electable thing, but the masses think that way.

  5. >He couldn’t get tax cuts by the people’s
    >republic legislature, so he abolished tolls on
    >the Mass Pike (a tollway) at several exits

    Wouldn’t, from a libertarian standpoint, a toll road be preferable to other methods of financing highway construction?

  6. He is also, I am led to understand, a serious alcoholic.

  7. Wouldn’t, from a libertarian standpoint, a toll road be preferable to other methods of financing highway construction?

    Yes.

    But if budget dollars are fungible, and they are, then any decrease in revenues to the state reduces government spending, or at least decreases its growth. My point was simply there was no way he was going to get a tax cut past the state legislature which was overwhelmingly Democratic, and not just full of Democrats, but full of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry type of Democrats.

    State highway construction did not go unfunded or underfunded. Google for Big Dig for just one example, which of course was mostly financed by taxpayers from the other 49 states.

    In a minimalist state of some kind you could earmark unspent tolls for future road spending of some kind, and if the surplus got too big you could cut tolls or give a rebate to the people. In MA the surpluses got spent on typical redistribution programs, so he gutted the surplus, which he could do by governor fiat without legislative approval.

  8. Oh yeah, not only did he slash fees at the registry of Motor Vehicles, but his outsourcing philosphy radically cut lines when renewing driver’s licences etc.

    Weld is not an H&R libertarian. But he is for a freer society in general, or at least that was the impression I got in his time in office. He could have changed I suppose, or my view could have been colored by living among die hard statists.

  9. This would seem to be a positive development, moving the GOP and the rest of the body politic in libertarian direction.

    the New York Conservative Party, which Republicans often claim, is taken.

    No Republican has won statewide office in New York without Conservative Party support since 1974. That’s amazing cuz that means that they endorsed that outrageous big spender, Pataki. If Weld gets the GOP nomination, the Conservative should quit bitching and support him. All considered, his positions are a Hell of a lot closer to Reagan’s than Pataki’s are, and they backed him.

  10. Shoulda been: “the Conservative *Party* should quit bitching and support him.”

  11. I can recall Weld getting into some contretemps with Jesse Helms about “los drogas” (how “libertarian” of him)… I note that the kind who disdain Helms, seem to like Weld. However, Helms hosted the Dalai Lama in N.C. in 1995–which was well before that was even an “in” thing.

    So, I’m hoping they just nominate Helms for it. And as an admirer of Szasz’s arguments for the rights of the demented, I believe it would be a stroke of Libertarian genius

  12. I think the NY GOP may take a pragmatic approach in the end. Since their party is pretty much in disarray (with open warfare between the GOP Gov and the GOP senate majority leader), they could figure that they can finally kill off Mike Long’s Conserative Party in NY.

    By having a different candidate on the GOP line from the Conservative line, the Conserative Party probably won’t get the 50k votes they need to continue in existence (they’d have to gather signatures to get on the ballot next time rather than automatic placement).

    Since the GOP is likely to loose the next gov race, it might be a chance to rip off that painful bandaid that is the Conservative Party.

    A spoonful of sugar to get the medicine down. 🙂

  13. After misspending some of my youth involved with it, I’ve become very down on party politics. The arithmetic of our system demands that we only have two parties and if libertarians hold on to our core principles (e.g. NO to the Drug War) then we’re not going to be one of the two parties any time soon.

    But the New York State system with multiple party lines offers a rare opportunity to make a difference in electoral politics. In this system, candidates typically COURT the smaller parties for their valuable ballot lines.

    Of course, this dilutes the parties core message. (Old quip about the Liberal Party: it’s neither.)

    ‘tarians being ‘tarains, they’re going to bitch about this.

    They should shut the fuck up and thank God for Bill Weld.

    The WHOLE POINT of a political party is to “sell out” AKA get elected.

    Sure, Weld would be something of a disappointment to hardcore libs.

    But he’d be a big improvement. Perhaps we could get NY to be an MMJ state and move further on reducing overly punitive drug sanctions.

    And besides, he’d be a HUGE PR boost for the party.

    I always knew we’d get an LP governor eventually. 😉

  14. Nobody’s mentioned the scandal over Weld’s tenure as chief executive of a Kentucky technical college under federal investigation for student loan fraud. Weld claims to have known nothing about the scam, but considering he was making $700,000 a year to run the operation, he should have.

    I was in high school during the Weld administration in MA, but my economist father, who voted for Weld, ended up hating him with a special passion. Just mention the blue-blooded fucker’s name in my father’s house and he’ll froth at the mouth.

  15. e,

    you said

    I was in high school during the Weld administration in MA, but my economist father, who voted for Weld, ended up hating him with a special passion. Just mention the blue-blooded fucker’s name in my father’s house and he’ll froth at the mouth.

    Tell us more! what has your dad so up-in-arms?

    I went to Weld’s website, read/listened to his plans, and I almost sent that motherfucker a check.

  16. whoa,

    It’s a visceral disgust with Weld personally as far as I understand. Weld did a lot of good for Massachusetts – he cut taxes, he balanced the budget, etc. But Weld has this patrician attitude about everything that really bugs a lot of people. His abandonment of the governorship after he clearly got bored with it, first for a failed run at John Kerry’s Senate seat, then a failed bid for an ambassadorship, is a case in point, as is the whole Technical College fiasco. Making a ton of money off of a swindle of Kentucky high school dropouts without ever getting his hands dirty says a lot about the man. Oh, and his flirtation with the Libertarian Party is only coming because he failed in his attempts (backpedaling on drugs and gay marriage) to ingratiate himself with New York establishment conservatives. Don’t be too impressed with what he says, because Weld is, at a basic level, not serious.

    But, if he does join up with the Libertarians, it would certainly give the party a lot more exposure than it would get otherwise. Just don’t kid yourself that he has a chance in hell of winning.

  17. Mr. Weld, we New Yorkers don’t believe in electing carpetbaggers.

    Oh, wait…

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