Bill Weld

William Weld: Never Mind Libertarianism, He's Running as Himself


Boston magazine has a long take on William Weld, former Massachusetts governor, currently Libertarian vice presidential candidate.

The main takeaway, after some of the usual slightly sneery scene-setting about weirdo libertarians (reported from July's FreedomFest in Las Vegas) and the lovely color detail of the patrician Weld being amazed he's staying in a New York hotel whose price is three digits beginning with "one"?

That while Weld totally thinks of himself as libertarian and has for a long time, he's also a guy who just likes to do strange and challenging things as a lark, like writing novels, and hates being bored and likes being in the political mix.

An unnamed former adviser says "There's nothing more he would like than to be flying around the country on somebody else's dime, flying first class, and talking to political reporters all day." Another unnamed former staffer says of Weld "He is old money, white, and fucking brilliant…Everybody tries to distance himself from those traits when running for office, and he always embraced them and made them his own."

Reason has written quite a bit on some conflicts between Weld and libertarianism as most define it, despite Weld's long-time affection for that self-identification, and this profile is decent on explaining that aspect of the Weld/Libertarian story.

The profile by Simon van Zuylen-Wood sums up that conflict:

Weld's strategy isn't to try to defend libertarian ideas. Instead he articulates the ones he thinks disaffected centrists want to hear. When Johnson suggests abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, Weld raises an eyebrow and clarifies that he wouldn't go that far. When asked about gun control, Weld suggests the formation—cue a million Libertarians choking on their dinner—of a massive new FBI task force….

…. I ask him, at random, about climate change. He advocates pragmatic, mainstream, and essentially unlibertarian ideas about the urgent need for governing bodies to prevent the rise of global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius.

These aren't ideas his free-market brethren take kindly to. He smiles. He doesn't care: "I'm running as myself."

Weld to Reason TV in May on why Libertarians can trust him: