Election 2016

Gary Johnson, Bill Weld on Colbert: Always "coming down on the side of choice"

LP presidential ticket stakes out differences between Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians.


The Libertarian Party's presidential ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld appeared last night on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.

When asked to define what libertarian means and to sell people on "the libertarian idea," Johnson explained that he and Weld, both ex-Republican governors of "blue" states (New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively), "We were fiscally conservative and we were socially liberal…the notion that people should be able to make their own choices in their own lives…always coming down on the side of choice. And from a military viewpoint, I think the fact that we drop bombs, I think the fact that we…fly drones and kill thousands of innocent people, at the end of the day, has a consequence that's worse, not better…the unintended consequence of making the world less safe." Later, he noted that he's supports a women's right to an abortion, same-sex marriage, and pot legalizaton, saying to great applause, "Come on, let people make choices in their own lives that only people should be making."

Colbert brought up Donald Trump's dismissal of them as "fringe candidates," Johnson replied, "Totally fringe! Totally fringe!…In 1999, I was the highest elected official ever in the country to call for the legalization of marijuana. Bill Weld [was] denied the nomination to be ambassador to Mexico in 1997 by Jesse Helms because we was pro-gay, pro a women's right to choose, and he was pro medical marijuana. By fringe, I think [Trump's] saying the majority of Americans are fringe."

Weld added: "I like to say I want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom." He added that he addressed the Republican National Convention in 1992 with that message but that in 2016, that's a non-starter with either party. "With the Democrats, you get the government in your pocketbook and with the Republicans, it's much worse because you've got the government in your bedroom."

I'm not sure that I'm buying Weld's castigation of the GOP as worse. There's no question that the George W. Bush administration and the GOP Congress early in the century was truly godawful, but it's not as if things improved under Barack Obama, either, especially when it comes to a series of privacy issues and civil liberties. Looking at Trump and Hillary Clinton, both candidates are unacceptable from virtually any perspective, which is one reason why they are so widely disliked by voters.

A new Fox News poll of 1,000 registered voters taken between June 5 and June 8 shows Clinton leading a three-way race with 39 percent, Trump with 36 percent, and Johnson with 12 percent (up 2 percentage points from a previous poll). A total of 14 percent said they would not vote, choose someone else, or didn't know. The result that is getting even more play than Johnson's improving showing is that he's beating Clinton among indepedents. Trump pulls 32 percent of independents, followed by Johnson at 23 percent, and Clinton at 22 percent.

At the same time that Johnson is gaining visibility on late-night TV and with voters, Politifact notes that his contention that the United States is pledged to defend the borders of 69 countries via treaties that were "not authorized by Congress" is "mostly false." Yes, it's true that America has more than a few "entangling alliances" but in fact many of them (especially regarding groups such as the Organization of America States) have not been taken seriously since the 1950s or don't actually call for anything approaching immediate military response. As important, virtually all of the agreements were ratified by the Senate, as per the Constitution. There are more than enough problems with our foreign policy and overseas military presence not to get anything wrong this early in the race.

Matt Welch talked with Johnson at the Libertarian National Convention, where the governor explained why he thinks he is the best choice against Trump and Clinton: 

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Election 2016 Gary Johnson Bill Weld Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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82 responses to “Gary Johnson, Bill Weld on Colbert: Always "coming down on the side of choice"

  1. Weld added: “I like to say I want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom.”

    Where does he stand on bakeries and bathrooms?

    1. When he says he’d like the government out of our pocketbooks, I guess he means he’d like to collect our carbon penance tax directly from a checking account?

    2. Wooo, that’a hilarious. I mean, really. Let’s harp on dogmatic purity a little but more.

      1. Herpa derp durrr purity test derpa derp.

        Just vote for him even though he doesn’t align with any of your values – he’s not as bad as the other guys! Where have I heard that before…

        1. Any of my values? So, those 3 things are all my values? Also, I’m supposed to care about the philosophical purity of a VP candidate on a 3rd party ticket who is older than the presidential candidate? VPS are picka of strategy. They are for fundraising, vote getting, and being an attack dog proxy. Everything else doesn’t matter.

          But, fuck, let’s not compromise and smear the party’s most popular ticket in history because we are morons. Way to go team!

          1. Team? That got collectivist fast.

          2. Call me crazy, but the Second Amendment is kind of a core value as far as I’m concerned. One which William Weld doesn’t approve of.

            1. What has he said about it recently? People do change their minds sometimes.

        2. LOL don’t hold your breath waiting for a candidate who can possibly deliver on rolling back the CRA.

          1. That is a bad hill to pick to die on. It’s just not going to happen. As much as I’d love it, it just won’t happen. And arguing for it will just get you called a racist.

            Anyway, Johnson isn’t going to win, even if he gets into the debates. But it would be a very good thing if he can get the LP a seat at the table, so to speak. Even if the LP turns into something much less ideologically pure, it’s still a good thing to have some other participant in the political conversation. I’ve never been a big fan of the LP anyway. But even if they turn into just a slightly more principled Republican party, it’s a big deal and a good thing if they can get included.

        3. There is a big difference between picking between the candidate that lines up with 1% of my values and the one that aligns with 3% of my values and picking between those two and the candidate that aligns with 60% of my values.

          All this whining abotu Johnson’s impurity is just fucking numb. The perfect libertarian candidate (from the purist perspective) is going to turn off 90% of the electorate. Sorry, we’re just not popular. Johnson is 1000x better than the major candidates on almost everything.

      2. Hey, that foot isn’t going to shoot itself.

        1. +1 Plaxico Burriss

    3. And guns?

    4. Lots of hate about the Libertarian level of Gary Johnson/Bill Weld, and I understand the concern.

      But please remember that come election time, a vote for Johnson would be much more beneficial to the Libertarian Party than these two candidates. The goal is 5% of the national vote. Receive that federal funding for the next election cycle and you can strive for that more principled Libertarian next time when we don’t have to worry so much about exposure.

  2. “Come on, let people make choices in their own lives that only people should be making.”

    Like, say, choosing which customers they’d like to serve, or what sort of lavatory accommodations they’d like to provide to their guests, or if they’d like to use natural gas instead of solar panels, or if they’d like to purchase a hand gun.

    Fuck you you pathetic fraud.

    1. Thank you! He’s a complete joke.

    2. So, where did Johnson say he was opposed to people buying handguns or using natural gas?

  3. Can we get Goofy Gary to promise that pastors will never be forced to officiate gay weddings? I mean, if bakers have to bake cakes, couldn’t ministers also be seen as providing a public accommodation (service)?

    Dude wouldn’t know a principle if it kicked him in the nut-sack…

  4. Wish you people would stop talking about Hillary email when the 800 pound gorilla in the room is influence peddling through the Clinton Foundation. Small wonder people think the media is as corrupt as the politicians they cover. A free press was supposed to be the savior of the Republic not an indoctrination tool for big government.

    1. A corrupt “indoctrination tool for big government” that “[won’t] stop talking about Hillary email”?

      Does not compute.

    2. Hillary used a private e-mail server for all of her work and personal e-mails.
      Hillary says repeatedly that she did not send or receive any classified e-mails on that private server.
      How can it be that the secretary of state never ever sends or receives classified e-mails as part of the job description?
      I’m confused on this one little detail.

  5. Lots of negative comments about dear old Gary, but it is Republicans and Democrats who since 1820 that have got us into this mess. They were the same party until 1820. And until somewhere between 1900 and 1930 the Republicans were the Progressive Party and the Democrats were the Conservative Party. So 200 years ago they were the same party, then they split and then swapped platforms about 100 years ago. They rewrote the election laws to keep other parties from being viable and the American people keep begging for more

    1. “…until somewhere between 1900 and 1930 the Republicans were the Progressive Party and the Democrats were the Conservative Party.”

      Between 1900 and 1930? Um, no. The Republicans were progressive to the Democrats conservatism starting from about the the very start of the Republican Party. But nice try at avoiding just what the Democrats were so keen to “conserve” way back in the mid 1800s.

      1. The Republicans were progressive to the Democrats conservatism starting from about the the very start of the Republican Party.

        Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge would like to have a word with you.

      2. Reading is hard. Between 1900 and 1930 was when they started to shift from being the progressive party. Before that the Democrats were the conservatives defending slavery and later segregation and other racist policy.

  6. Johnson and Weld are doing such an awesome job of preaching the libertarian gospel, and their credibility as governors is what’s driving all the coverage they’re getting.

    I’d have settled for not being ignored. I’d have settled for candidates that weren’t an embarrassment. To get both is like Christmas in June.

    There will be a time to stand on dogma again. Now is not that time. The democrats and Republicans have put the two most dreadful candidates in living memory. Breaking the big tent out this election was exactly the right thing to do.

    So many people are hearing the libertarian gospel who never heard it before. For the love of all that’s good and holy, let’s not get hung up on the abortion issue of the month.

    1. I agree Ken.
      Politics is compromise. The object is to infect everyone possible with the enlightenment philosophy of liberalism. Then let it run its course. Some will seek out more, others will simply stay put, but the overall effect is that more people than before have a greater understanding about what we libertarians believe. Which is beautiful because it is the most efficient and righteous way to organize ourselves. Perhaps then, more will see and understand the truth that is Misesian Austrian econ, and will be compelled by its truth and logic to apply its principles of the free market.

    2. There will be a time to stand on dogma again. Now is not that time.

      Well put.

    3. Johnson is OK. Weld sucks more than Sasha Grey.

      1. So what? He’s the VP candidate. VP candidates are supposed to suck.

      2. If William Weld can run on the Libertarian ticket, then there’s no reason why anybody should be too embarrassed to vote for libertarians–or even be libertarian.

        I admit it. I’m libertarian, and I’m proud.

        Even William Weld has come out of the closet as a libertarian. Maybe we should have a libertarian pride parade.

    4. B-b-but… IMPURE!!1!!!!!!!! HERETIKS!!1!!1111!!!!! BURN THE WITCHEZ!1!1!!!!!!!

    5. Yes. Arguments about purity are a fine thing among people who give a shit about that sort of thing. But will never work in practical politics. No one fucking cares about libertarian ideological purity except us and it will never be an electoral winner.

      If Johnson gets elected (which he won’t, but still..) I’m sure we’d have plenty to complain about still. Because politics is the worst thing in the world. But picking the lesser evil isn’t so bad when your choices are completely evil, moronic pandering evil and really not too bad.

  7. There are more than enough problems with our foreign policy and overseas military presence not to get anything wrong this early in the race.


  8. I’d define a political party as a group of people who share certain principles and are willing to sell those principles short for pragmatic gains, for instance, to win influence or elections.

    Standing firm on gay or race issues, right now, is a losing strategy, and faulting the Libertarian Party candidate for selling those issues short (for this election cycle) is faulting the Libertarian Party for acting like a political party.

    Like faulting water for being wet.

    1. What if, instead of wanting to abolish the IRS while increasing the power of the EEOC, he wanted to abolish the EEOC and raise income taxes?

      You could likewise complain about purity tests, and say that there’s no point quibbling about income tax rates once you’ve conceded the principle.

      1. He doesn’t want to raise income taxes. And if not raising income taxes were an incredibly divisive issue that uniquely subjected a candidate to contempt and ridicule in the media, then I’d expect Johnson not to emphasize that issue.

        In 2008, Barack Obama was campaigning on the slogan, “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. Gay rights activists lined up behind Obama anyway, and they were right to do so. Obama wasn’t going to do them any good out of office.

        That’s the way political parties operate.

        You have to take what the market will give you. You don’t dictate terms to the market; the market dictates terms to you. You maximize profits influence and votes by giving the people what they want. Not by trying to force then to buy what you want.

        Think of it this way: How many libertarians support government regulation, professional licensing, and zoning laws? Not many, right? But most of us support Colorado’s legalization of cannabis anyway–even if it means subjecting growers and sellers to regulation, licensing, and zoning laws.

        We’re taking wins where the voter market will let us have them. Maybe that’s selling certain principles short in the short term. Maybe winning victories in the real world requires us to do that on certain issues sometimes. In the end Obama did more for gay rights than anyone else ever has anyway.

        1. There’s a difference between “I won’t challenge this law right now” and “I want to expand the powers of the government.

          Johnson would expand the powers of the EEOC, just as my hypothetical candidate would increase the income tax burden.

          1. “You have to take what the market will give you. You don’t dictate terms to the market; the market dictates terms to you.”

            If you mean the political market, there are potential “customers” out there who would support the right of businesses to *decide for themselves* whether to make gay cakes.

            To my knowledge there is at least one such candidate, Darrell Castle, and possibly a second one, Donald Trump, who also support this right. I’m not sure about Trump, but we *know* Johnson isn’t such a candidate.

            He’s not reaching out to these customers.

            1. Discriminating against gays is about as popular as discriminating against black people.

              You’re not going to win a popularity contest right now by arguing that people have a right to discriminate against gays.

              There are a hundred other issues.

              This isn’t a philosophical discussion. It’s a popularity contest.

              1. The debate is still in the framing stage.

                If you narrow the question to “should small business owners decide for themselves which ceremonies they should assist in, based on their religious conscience,” then you’d get different responses than “should MegaGiganticorp be able to fire its longtime faithful district manager, and make his adorable adopted kids go hungry, after finding out about his same-sex wedding?”

                And for the former question, there’s a lot of people who give a strong YES answer and might be induced to vote for someone with a YES answer.

                While people who think small businesses should be forced to cater gay weddings are probably going to vote for Hillary or Stein, or maybe even Trump, but not Johnson.

                1. We can have a discussion about whether winning with people who are sensitive to gay rights is more important than winning with people who don’t give a shit if gays are offended.

                  But the discussion about how best to appeal to a wider and more important audience is different from the discussion about whether some issues should be downplayed.

                  If we’re going big tent, then divisive issues should be downplayed. That’s why they’re called wedge issues–they divide people. Talking about abortion probably isn’t a big tent issue either. We want people on both sides of that issue to vote libertarian, so maybe we don’t emphasize that issue so much.

                  We have larger issues we can stand on, too. Fiscal conservatism? Yeah, we can differentiate ourselves from the others with that. If we can gloss over all the wedge issues with the observation that everyone should be free to make choices for themselves, then we should probably do that.

                  1. There may have been some benefit in showing would-be talk show hosts that they can’t get him on gay rights beforehand, but I’ll concede that it may have been better if Johnson hadn’t taken any position on that issue at all. Should fundamentalist bakers be forced to cater gay weddings? “People should be free to make choices for themselves” is probably the best answer, and there may be plenty of swing voters who would interpret that in various ways. Some of them are likely to interpret that as meaning that Christians fundamentalists shouldn’t be allowed to inflict their opinions on gay couples. Others will interpret that to mean that gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to impose themselves on the religious beliefs of others. That’s probably the ideal situation on that issue–everyone supports you for their own reasons.

                    That’s what being a politician is all about.

                    1. “Talking about abortion probably isn’t a big tent issue either.”

                      Then Johnson shouldn’t have talked about it.

                      “That’s probably the ideal situation on that issue–everyone supports you for their own reasons.”

                      You’ve just persuaded me to vote Trump! /notreally

                    2. In regards to abortion, you’re right maybe he shouldn’t have talked about it.

                      Is he pro-choice?

                      I can see how projecting an image of libertarianism that defies the militia man stereotype might not be a bad thing, too. That may be big tent, even, in its own way.

        2. ” 2008, Barack Obama was campaigning on the slogan, “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. Gay rights activists lined up behind Obama anyway, and they were right to do so. Obama wasn’t going to do them any good out of office.”

          He didn’t do any good for them in office, either.

          1. He used to bully pulpit to great effect–at the very least.

  9. They are all the same you American dipshits!

    The only thing that could possibly give the advantage to the republicans is that they pretend to be for the second amendment. The merits of which and the reason for its value may well come to fruition in the near future.

    We know all democrats are mentally retarded. The GOP is not a friend of capitalism. They used to suppress freedom of speech in the 80s-90s remember? Now the left is so clearly dangerously Marxist, the GOP mouthpieces actually sound like they appreciate liberty with the small exception of bombing people all over the world for fun.

  10. “*always* coming down on the side of choice.” [emphasis added]

    For those of you complaining about purity tests, he just imposed one on himself.

    He’s holding himself up as the one who *always* supports your right to decide what to do.

    Let me guess…Colbert didn’t call him on it?

    1. He identifies as pure, so please accommodate him…or else

  11. From an ideologically pure perspective, I don’t really see libertarianism as simply being fiscally conservative and socially liberal either. It’s much more fundamental than that.

    But Johnson isn’t arguing with a bunch of objectivists in his dorm room. He’s pitching libertarianism to a general audience. And he’s doing a great job of that.

    Ron Paul didn’t generate this kind of coverage. What support he got was mostly despite the lack of coverage in the media. How many national shows has Johnson been on since he was nominated?

    1. What happens when the interviewer asks him about his World War II answer, or his nazi cakes stance?

      Basically, what happens when the novelty wears off – “wow, this candidate isn’t Trump or Hillary, doesn’t it blow your mind?” – and he gets more specific questions about his positions?

      1. Then hopefully, he’ll give the kinds of evasive answers that other candidates give on hard questions–like a good coach or quarterback before a football game.

        Did stealing our opponent’s play call signals through rules violating filming help us win the game? Well, we have a lot of respect for our opponents, and their coach put together a really good game plan. They’re a great team.

      2. Trump and Clinton don’t get asked serious questions about their positions on anything, why do you think that would happen to Johnson?

        1. Same reason Trump and Clinton don’t have to worry about whether the CPD will let them into the debates.

          Double standards.

        2. ^ this. +1,567 internets

          1. Damnit, squirrels! My agreement is with paranoid android.

    2. That’s because Paul wasn’t running in a year when two wretched human beings representing the very worst of all worlds were the two major candidates, and the media was too busy shoving their collective tongue as far up Obama’s ass as possible in 2008 and 2012 to pay attention to anyone else.

      1. It’s true that this election year provides a unique opportunity because the candidates the two major parties threw up (pun intended) are so very, very awful.

        That’s a big part of the reason I’m advocating the big tent. You get an opportunity, make the most of it.

        If we’re running against the next Goldwater or Reagan next time, then maybe we should stand on principle instead.

        Winning office and influence through elections isn’t like winning a philosophical or scientific debate.

        This is why people buy things:


        Sell it, Gary!

  12. This is honestly getting pretty exciting. Johnson obviously fails the purity test, but the LP was never going to get anywhere with a “pure” candidate. This is the most substantial ticket the party has ever had, and I think the future is bright for libertarianism thanks to them. Right now we should focus on moving in the right general direction; we can argue about the final destination later.

    1. Yes. The non pure cra stance will help the left be more comfortable with the lp ticket. With some easy reading they might even end up as anarchists.

      We also need a chunk of the Senate before we go all pure freedom of association.


    Gary’s job is to get regular dipshits to publicize ideas. He’s doing a fine job of it.

    1. But muh caex!


        1. I hate Nazi Jews!

          1. Are they better or worse than Illinois Nazis?

    2. *to publicize ideas to regular dipshits

  14. So if you’re willing to settle on an impure candidate, why not Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party?

    His God-talk qualifies him as impure, but substantively, he’s against many of the same abuses Johnson is against.

    If his impurity on the God issue isn’t a deal-breaker – and recall that we’ve rejected purity tests – then why not vote for him?

    1. Because nobody cares about your abortofascist nobody who isn’t on any ballots, Eddie.

      1. You seem to care enough to overlook the states where he’s on the ballot.

        1. The Constitution Party will be on the ballots of somewhere less than a quarter of all states. That will not be enough to upset the political apple cart.

  15. I do know which is worse between being in the bedroom and being in your pocketbook. The pocketbook is way, way, way worse. It isn’t even remotely close.

    The bedroom is more inexcusable, no question about that. But what are they really gonna do? When I was a kid, gay sex was actually a crime. Think about that… really stupid. But it didn’t stop people from living their lives. They just had to be moderately discrete. So everyone knew that the spinster roommates who lived together for the last 25 years were really a lesbian couple. And nobody bothered them, even though they were “criminals”.

    But how exactly is one to live their life as they please economically if the government takes half off the top? And exactly how do you get around government taxes and regulations on things you’d like to do, like drinking a super-size diet coke at McDonalds? Or if they tack an extra 60% on to a gallon of gas?

    Plus, I don’t concede that the right is more intrusive in the bedroom than the left. They seem equally douchey to me. All of this “buzzed sex is rape” stuff isn’t coming from the religious right. And I remember a lot of lip-flapping about how “all sex is rape” coming from somewhere other than Jerry Falwell. And I’m not entirely sure who would be more outraged at the suggestion that sex workers should be legitimized, left or right.

    1. I don’t really like playing the game about which is worse… they are both awful.

      1. Well, yeah. If you just decline to play the game. But the game was to pick which is worse.

        Like, which is worse, being struck blind or being struck deaf? You know, stupid, time-wasting point of discussion type game.

    2. Economic freedom is the basis for general freedom, that is true.

      But when you are talking about politics, you have to pick battles you can win. Lowering taxes and reducing regulations seems possible. Returning to complete freedom of association for businesses really just isn’t. Sorry, but it ain’t happening. But there are other significant economic things that might happen, like lower taxes, less onerous licensing and lowering regulatory burdens.

    3. @Cyto: Well said.

  16. Economic freedom is personal freedom

  17. Dudes and dudettes
    While many here may not be Johnson fellators (heh), the lesson in current events is this:

    Johnson and Weld are the LP candidates now. They will be going up against RedBlue Incorporated. They will (probably) be on everyone’s ballot. They are getting the freedom brand on television and the Internetz.

    Are they Freedom Eagle and The Torch of Liberty? Fuck no. Are they generally on our side? Probably mostly.

    You are obviously smart and strongly opinionated about freedom. While I would strongly favor an anarcho-everything to slash, burn and salt the fields, I realize that for mass marketing, to get our brand out, I think we need to market Libertarian Lite. The public is uneducated in the thought and language of freedom. Hell, I only discovered there were like-minded people and a political movement around it like 4 years ago.

    You can carp on about Petersen, the Constitution Party or wutever. But the truth is, right now, Johnson’s getting play (heh). If we can at least educate the drooling masses this election cycle, on a national scale, that there is an alternative for those who hunger for freedom and feel desperation about their choice between flavors of authoritarianism, that the media must pay attention to those who loathe their 2-party system, I would call that a win (for now). We may not “win” win this time, but if I can talk about libertarianism without child slavery or an ensuing meth-idemic entering the conversation, I would be deliriously pleased.

  18. I’ve been a little critical of Johnson’s public speaking and campaigning manner in a few posts here.

    This one, I thought they both absolutely nailed it.

    Well done!

  19. I am sick to death of this “republicans in your bedroom” is so awful crap.

    You don’t see republicans throwing away men’s due process rights if they’re accused of rape after consensual sex. And you don’t see them pressing for literally requiring contracts before having sex.

    So take that “Progs better for staying out of the bedroom” shit and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

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