MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Gary Johnson Booed at Libertarian Party Convention for Calling William Weld 'the original libertarian'

Former Republican governor's praise for former Republican governor comes under fire from current Libertarians

Last night, on the eve of what may well be a historic Libertarian Party National Convention, America's leading third party held a debate among the very many people running for its highly coveted presidential slot. Former New Mexico governor and 2012 L.P. nominee Gary Johnson, who is considered to be the front-runner in the race, took a sharp jab during the debate from upstart contender Austin Petersen over the controversial-to-libertarians, praised-by-media-outsiders selection of former Massachusetts governor William Weld as his suggested running-mate. (Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.)

Petersen, who has been making hay with his contention that "It's time for us to stop nominating failed Republicans, and start nominating successful Libertarians," drew sustained applause when he challenged Johnson over Weld's Libertarian bonafides: "In 2012, he didn't endorse Ron Paul, he didn't endorse you, he endorsed Mitt Romney. In 2016, he endorsed John Kasich. Why didn't your VP pick endorse you?"

Johnson's semi-rambling answer—he started off saying that tabbing Weld was "beyond my wildest dreams," and ended up encouraging skeptics to ask his running-mate that same question during the upcoming vice-presidential debate—was punctuated by the contention that Weld was "the original libertarian." That did not go over well:

Petersen is making the case among the record 985 delegates and 344 alternate delegates here that Gary Johnson has been running a general-election campaign instead of a party primary. Various delegates I've spoken with share that sentiment, and some of the ones who know William Weld best—particularly longtime New York L.P. hand Richard Cooper—vowed to me that they would move heaven and earth to deny Weld the V.P. slot. (For a rundown of Weld's tangled relationship with the NYLP, read this scathing account.)

Photo Credit: WCBV

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Of all the people he could have picked!

    But he does have a strong bond with Weld.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    That was tacky.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    That was tacky.

    If this post shows up twice, it was like double sided sticky tape.

  • FreeSpeechMatters||

    Weld is the original Social Justice Warrior. Calling Weld "the original libertarian" is like a middle finger to both libertarians, and conservatives who care about free speech and freedom of association and curbing government red tape. Weld will help ensure that any Johnson appointees to the Supreme Court are anti-free-speech zealots who support campus and workplace speech codes and hate speech bans.

    Weld ran to the Left of his 1990 Democratic rival for governor on Social Justice Warrior issues, and his appointees to the state judiciary included people who had supported draconian campus speech codes. Weld's appointees to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination effectively imposed workplace speech codes far harsher than the vague "hostile environment" standard that applies in federal workplace harassment cases. They demanded that people be fired by private employers for offensive racial jokes.

    Weld supported new red tape, like the Big Green initiative that his 1990 Democratic opponent, John Silber, found too extreme, and which was rejected as too extreme by Massachusetts voters.

    If you want someone who will force a wedding photographer to photograph a gay commitment ceremony under the ludicrous fiction that a wedding photographer with no fixed place of business is a public accommodation (as happened in New Mexico, with Johnson's judges voting along with Democrats), Weld is your man. Weld is also an outspoken supporter of race-based affirmative action.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Of all the people he could have picked!

    But he does have a strong bond with Weld.

  • Robert||

    Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.


    They're nominated separately at all the other parties' conventions too.

  • Robert||

    Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.


    They're nominated separately at all the other parties' conventions too.

  • Robert||

    Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.


    They're nominated separately at all the other parties' conventions too.

  • Robert||

    Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.


    They're nominated separately at all the other parties' conventions too.

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    I swear I'm only going to click Submit once.

    *crosses fingers*

  • Robert||

    Windows problem's keeping me from audio or video lately, so...does GJ actually say Wm. Weld was the original libertarian? What was the context?

  • Robert||

    I'll try to wank this in a way that might make the statement close to correct. 1st of all, have to rule out of consider'n any governors from a century or more earlier whose admins. might've been more libertarian, and focus only on the milieu in which these 2 governors operated, i.e. states that were politically hostile during their time as adults. Shucks, I'm all out of wanks. Anybody?

  • Robert||

    True, they're not the boots on the ground, so they may have little idea of the circumstances & possibilities. An example would be Mass., where cutting the income tax, even deeply, was rejected as an achievable compromise because it was tainted by activists too closely associated w the Republican Establishment. A voter initiative to abolish the income tax then narrowly lost. That should've told them that a deep cut could've gotten the extra votes to swing it to a win. But did they ever follow up with such a compromise? Not AFAIK.

  • Tundra||

    He also referred to Darryl Hall as the 'Original Gangsta'.

    Maybe some residual damage from altitude sickness?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I still do not understand why he named Weld his VP before the convention. He doubled-down on what many libertarians see as his faults before he was nominated.

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.

    Though I hear they're nominated separately at all the other parties' conventions too.

  • Foo_dd||

    Weld is a terrible choice. he picked a guy who could not have likely gotten the support to be even considered without his nod. i know it's not conventional... and there would be an attempt by the major parties to paint us as dysfunctional... but i really hope they pick a different VP when/if Johnson gets the nomination. (I don't think it is a given that he will, after choosing Weld.... i think that choice pissed off a lot of people)

  • H-daddy||

    Weld is a pragmatic choice. Johnson sees far ahead of you or I. This isn't about getting a gold star on his LP report card. It's about winning the god damn election. It's about the LP not being kicked around by the media and by the GOP and by the DEMs. It's about getting the voting public to even know we exist!

  • ||

    Yeah, this was a HRC-level bad move.

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    Oh, Johnson.

  • The Critics' Critic||

    At best, the Libertarian Party is a circular firing squad.

  • GILMORE™||

    At *best*

  • Mike Laursen||

    After years of wasting my time in the Libertarian Party, I came to the conclusion its biggest value to the libertarian movement is that it keeps the doctrinaire libertarians off the streets, arguing amongst themselves, so they don't impede us classical liberals and moderate libertarians.

  • GILMORE™||

    it keeps the doctrinaire libertarians off the streets, arguing amongst themselves, so they don't impede us classical liberals and moderate libertarians

    I think that's a pretty good summary. Its always been my impression (from a healthy distance)

    but then, what would they be impeding 'us classical liberals' etc. *from*, really?

  • Mike Laursen||

    The "Libertarian Moment"! It's coming any day now!

  • Robert||

    It might have + value that way, except: http://users.bestweb.net/~robg.....elope.html

  • roversaurus||

    Can't we make Peterson the VP?

  • Glide||

    I'm a little curious myself whether there's enough civility there to make that combo work, or whether they've gotten too heated. It would be a lot more ideologically balanced ticket than Johnson/Weld.

  • Foo_dd||

    it would... but i think it would come off as too forced. McAfee would work better... but he has flat out said he wouldn't back Johnson at all, if hey gets the nomination... so I doubt that is an option.

  • SparktheRevolt||

    He also don't plan on getting nominated considering he accepted a position as a CEO at a company last week.

  • DOOMco||

    I see him being useful in marketing

  • roversaurus||

    Johnson/Weld *looks* like such a tempting ticket. I would relish being able to look down my nose at the R's and D's having the more respectable, sane, moderate and experienced candidates. I really think the MS media would feel ashamed when they ignored us. I really think it would get serious media attention. Am I dreaming to say enough to win it? If putting Weld on the ticket means the LP might actually win that might be enough for me.

    I don't think Weld is good enough for me to be happy with. I'm a pro life libertarian and freedom of association is pretty important. I agree with Peterson more. But I think Johnson is the better choice for the media attention and the compromise within the party. With gun control and other more "moderate" positions Weld is a much bigger step than Johnson.

    While I *like* McAfee's crazy ... I don't think it is good for the LP (or libertarians) to put crazy forth as our representative.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I really think the MS media would feel ashamed when they ignored us.

    Assumes facts not in evidence. Specifically that the MSM is capable of feeling shame.

    I pretty much agree with your post though. I like Petersen's energy (although I've also read a lot of unflattering things about him lately - specifically that he's an internet troll who uses multiple sock puppets on his Libertarian Republic click-bait site and others to troll people). I like McAffee a lot too, but I'm worried that if he gets the LP nom, between the D's, R's, and the MSM they'll latch onto the murder accusations in Belize and by the time the election rolls around half the electorate will be convinced he's a murderer and the other half, while not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, will be convinced he's psycho enough to have done it.

    At the end of the day, it's the classic Libertarian Party conundrum: do they nominate the squishy, moderate, "impure" Johnson, who has a real governing track record and would bring mainstream respectability, or a bomb throwing fanatic, or a guy who may be batshit crazy (and even if he's not can be easily portrayed that way by the media). Or someone no one's ever heard of. All I know is if they don't nominate Johnson, then they're not serious about taking advantage of the opening they've been presented with this year. NTTAWWT.

  • JFree||

    This really is presumptuous. Why is the LP itself significant enough to require that the candidate 'balance things'? What exactly does a unified LP bring to the election table? Will it knock on more doors or do any of the other bottom-up grassroots work to bring in either neighbors (at a precinct level) or small-l libertarians (at a local ideology level)? Will it bring in more top-down money (and I personally think that whole path is the road to hell for LP since it reinforces the current perception that libertarianism is nothing but urban GOP'ers living in D-run locations).

    I'm not really even sure if the LP wants to be a political party or a church - and looking for LP-driven 'balance' then appears to be nothing but kicking the can down an already dysfunctional road.

  • Rasilio||

    "Petersen, who has been making hay with his contention that "It's time for us to stop nominating failed Republicans, and start nominating successful Libertarians,""

    Great, now if Peterson could actually go find a successful libertarian.

    Oh wait, you mean he thinks he is one.........

    Bwahahhahhahahahahahahahhaha

    Given that he has barely any more libertarian cred than Johnson, no record of political experience forget success, and honestly not a great record of success in any other area his statement rules him out just as surely as it rules out Johnson and Weld.

    That said looking at the bigger picture what precisely would a libertarian with a record of success look like? Since "failed Republicans" have been ruled out that eliminates the Pauls, Amash Lee, and the handful of other libertarianish Republicans in Congress which also rules out anyone with any political experience at all. So looking elsewhere what have we got? Penn Jillette, John Stossel, Peter Theil, Drew Carey? Is there actually another libertarian that anyone has heard of that isn't batshit crazy like McAffee and has a sustained record of success such that people would have to take them seriously as a candidate?

  • SparktheRevolt||

    Peter Thiel is a delegate for Donald Trump. Try again.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah that was kind of my point, I brought him up as an example of a vaguely libertarianish mega rich dude who still fails to meet the criteria of an actual successful libertarian who isn't batshit crazy.

    So where is this great libertarian hope that we can all unite around? Because when I look around all I see are nutters, failures, people so obscure they make me look famous, and Republicans who can't pass the purity test.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Because when I look around all I see are nutters, failures, people so obscure they make me look famous, and Republicans who can't pass the purity test.

    IOW, the typical LP.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah but I am actually expanding beyond the actual LP.

    Just looking at it from a small l libertarian perspective.

    Who is the archetype for what an actual libertarian politician would look like?

    Because right now there doesn't seem to be ANYONE who fits the bill.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Who is the archetype for what an actual libertarian politician would look like?

    Almanian? /sarc

  • ||

    Kurt Russel?
    Pliskin for President! Escape from statism!

  • Robert||

    Howard A. Stern. Failing that, his running mate, Stan Dworkin.

    Of course Stern himself would probably have recommended Trump.

  • Mendelism||

    The Jacket

  • Robert||

    That's good. We should try to influence Trump.

  • Foo_dd||

    there is also the fact that the obsessions with his pro life stance, and the gay nazi bakers... make him sound more like a republican than Johnson does. (even if you agree on those points)

  • Robert||

    If there is such a libertarian who wants to run for prez, s/he should do so in a different political party from LP—preferably a major party, but also considering the possibility of a non-ideologic party that organizes nationally in the mode of the Reform Party. Libertarians are destructive to each other's efforts in a party of their own.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    My prediction stands...unfortunately.

    The LP is excellent at shooting its own appendages.

  • ||

    Maybe they can nominate Bob Barr as VP.

  • AblueSilkworm||

    That's what's hilarious. GayJay's VP pick is unconscionable to me, but why would they complain about him when they somehow found Bar acceptable?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Barr wasn't a COZMO?

  • Robert||

    Because, all things considered, Barr was more libertarian than Weld.

    What made people for a while think Weld was libertarian—more libertarian than most, if not radically so—was that he was a maverick, always getting in trouble with his party or supporters. But that's the same reason people for years thought Lyndon LaRouche was libertarian. It was like "liberal", "conservative", & "other", so other must be libertarian, huh?

  • nicmart||

    Johnson, not himself being much of a libertarian, has a tin ear on the topic.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I mean, the Original Libertarian Republican Governors was a great duo in the studio, don't get me wrong. Let's be honest, though: they were never that great live, and the band's 90s sound is deader than disco.

  • Sombody||

    Austin Petersen makes fake accounts to show support on Twitter. So, yeah, I have more respect for Gary.

  • TapDancingXenomorph||

    I guess this shows that even in the Libertarian Party there are progressives and conservatives of some degree. I like the fact that Johnson has experience implementing his policy ideas, but some of his statements and choices make me think that there is a gooey progressive middle inside. Petersen's young and I'm wary of his inexperience in any kind of public office, but he's a clear Constitutionalist -- I have more faith in his resolve against government encroachment than Johnson. With the main parties nominating complete dumpster fires, Johnson's still got my vote, more likely than not -- but I don't think he's a great torchbearer for the Libertarian cause.

  • Robert||

    Mike, "liberal on social issues" by now is a term that's at least vague, and more often opposed to what you think it means. It was a fair approximation 35 yrs. ago, but look at which issues are "social" now.

  • Robert||

    You're confusing moral principle with semantic principle. Are we discussing what people should do, or what people understand by certain communications?

  • Careless||

    How would (say) LGBT rights justify violating that principle?

    When there's a quarter of a million dollar fine for referring to a man as "he" or "him"?

  • DOOMco||

    No, it means you don't use the force of government. People can be intolerant. Government can't.

  • Robert||

    Back when people started using the formula "fiscally conservative, socially liberal", in the USA there was only one highly visible anomaly among "social liberal" positions that made them run against the grain on liberty": weapons policy. But now we're so thick in the culture war that every couple of years there's a new "liberal/conservative" alignment on some issue that you'd've never suspected previously. The soclib might want to ban horse or dog racing, or adult-supervised tackle football for children, or vaping; or it might be the socons who are for banning any of those things, and the soclibs on the other side. Nobody can predict, since it's chaotic in the mathematic sense.

  • Robert||

    But it doesn't matter what David Nolan's intent was then; what matters is what someone thinks when s/he hears or reads it now. Just like it's hard to use "gay" to mean happy now.

  • Sombody||

    Austin Petersen creates fake accounts to show support on his Twitter.... God, AP is so much of the tattle tale type. The fact that Gary goes about things in a more mature manner, and AP acting like such a child, makes me not care to look into who William Weld is or how Gary is not a true libertarian...

  • Sombody||

    Apologies, my browser is acting up.

  • DOOMco||

    Can anyone comment?!

  • ||

    HIHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHN

  • DOOMco||

    What the fuck are local non partisan offices?

  • Sombody||

    There are cities that hold non-partisan elections for mayors and such.

  • DOOMco||

    And somehow we have thousands of libertarians who won? Any list of these people and the things they support, hihn?

  • ||

    Here's the official LP list: http://www.lp.org/candidates/elected-officials

  • DOOMco||

    146 is not close to 100,000

  • Robert||

    But Mike's counting "Nolan libertarians", not necessarily people known to LP. We have no good way of knowing how many of the people gov't offices worldwide are at least significantly more libertarian than the avg. person, but I would suppose there are lots of them, even allowing for a lot of antipathy toward gov't work by persons with those preferences.

  • DOOMco||

    No, I was implying that the people running without letters behind their names are not necessarily libertarians. Buthe please continue the fallacious arguments based on age. Everyone is super impressed. So those 80 percent continue to vote for people who sure seem to be against liberty. My town recently banned stacking rocks. I'm sure some people do run on a single issue. Everyone's a libertarian on some issue. But they aren't libertarians, they can't use the same argument on a subject they personally want control over.

  • Robert||

    I'm sure some people do run on a single issue. Everyone's a libertarian on some issue. But they aren't libertarians, they can't use the same argument on a subject they personally want control over.


    So run them on the issue (or for the office controlling or having influence on the issue) they're libertarian on. It may turn out to be the issue they're most interested in anyway. Don't assume that because a person has both libertarian & authoritarian preferences, that the authoritarian ones are that person's priorities. And even if they are, if it so happens that the office they're running for has little or nothing to do with it, then who cares. For example, suppose someone running for mayor of Newark would like very much to impose Sharia law on France; since that person's not likely to have any influence over France, see what the candidate thinks about Newark policies & programs.

  • Robert||

    BTW, I bet Sharia's at least 80% the same in effect as secular law.

  • Robert||

    He may be from a state like Texas that has partisan labels even for positions like school board member. The states vary a lot on what fraction of their elections are partisan. NY is on the slightly high side of that, but in village elections the parties are often local ones whose names don't correspond to any parties on the state level. It's like they say, there's no Democratic or Republican way to sweep the streets—but there may be a Better Gov't for This Village way or some party line like that.

  • DOOMco||

    Can you name the thousands of libertarians who hold these positions?

  • End Child Unemployment||

    We're natural enemies! Like Libertarians and Democrats, or Libertarians and Republicans, or Libertarians and other Libertarians!

    You libertarians sure are a contentious people.

    You've just made an enemy FOR LIFE!

  • ||

    Whew, thank goodness. For a minute I was afraid the LP wouldn't fuck up this historic chance.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    I would hold my nose and choose Johnson/Weld over the other two so that I could feel that when I actually can vote for them in the general election I'll feel I'm making a gesture the country will actually see.
    If the LP goes all purity-oriented it'll get less than 1%, but Johnson can probably gen up enough votes to get close to, if not actually be the balance of power. And that will be more powerful than even Ed Clark's campaign, which the MSM actually noticed (because of the Koch money, of course, but still...)

  • Robert||

    Another reason people noticed Ed Clark's prez campaign was that LP was still fairly new, and nobody could say for sure it wouldn't become a contender. After that election it became more & more clear it never would.

  • Brandybuck||

    "It's time for us to stop nominating failed Republicans, and start nominating successful Libertarians,"


    Show me one successful Libertarian running for president. Just one. Oh right, there aren't any because the official policy of the Libertarian Party is to lose elections.

    Johnson may have once been a successful Republican governor, but at least he wasn't ever a Tea Party Republican. Bonus points for never been an ex-expat either.

  • Michael Murray||

    Weld is another P.O.S who says whatever he thinks the current audience wants to hear. After his praise for Romney he was gushing with praise for Barry O. For a real dose of his duplicity listen to the Thursday podcast of The Jason Stapleton Program. Mr. Stapleton nailed him.

  • JeremyR||

    Weld is basically the same sort of politician Hillary Clinton is, sans pants suit.

  • sadeci0||

    Johnson is too attached to big government, and political insiders. We need somebody with a perspective free from the influences of political circles.

  • DeathStrikeVirus||

    Austin Peterson has routinely defended Rand Paul as being a libertarian. Someone whom endorsed Romney over his own father and will now be endorsing Trump.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online