Election 2016: Time for Libertarians to Dump Bill Weld

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Libertarian Party Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t pay much attention in 1972 when vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton was removed from  the Democratic ticket and replaced by Sargent Shriver after it came to light that Eagleton had a record of psychiatric hospitalizations. I have a pretty good excuse  for being distracted — I was five years old — and I’ve never looked into the mechanics of how that happened. But I’d like to see it happen again, this time in my own party.

The bylaws of the Libertarian Party’s national committee require that committee to “provide full support for the Party’s nominee for President and nominee for Vice-President as long as their campaigns are conducted in accordance with the Platform of the Party.” But they allow the LNC, on a 3/4 vote, to suspend either candidate. The suspension becomes permanent removal unless the candidate successfully appeals it to the party’s judicial committee.

Why on earth would Libertarians want to dump vice-presidential nominee William Weld? To let American voters, especially gun owners, know that the Libertarian Party still supports their rights as it always has.

Weld won the party’s nomination by a nose on the second ballot at the party’s national convention, after presidential nominee Gary Johnson pleaded for him to be chosen. One reason he was a hard sell to Libertarians was his anti-gun record as governor of Massachusetts (he supported and signed an “assault weapons” ban).

During the nomination campaign he went back and forth, telling Libertarians he had changed his views on guns one day, telling CNN he hadn’t changed his views on guns the next day.

Since the nomination, Weld has campaigned vigorously against the party’s platform — not just on gun issues but on due process rights — often spouting nonsense that makes him sound as ignorant and as nutty as Donald Trump at his worst.

Here’s Weld talking to REVOLT 2 VOTE correspondent Amrit Singh during the Democratic National Convention:

“You know the five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle. The problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells, and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon. And those are independent criminal offenses. That’s when they become essentially a weapon of mass destruction. The problem with handguns is probably even worse than the problem of the AR-15. You shouldn’t have anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list be able to buy any gun at all.”

None of the factual claims he makes there are true, nor is his stated position even remotely libertarian.

Libertarians support gun rights. Libertarians support due process, not presumed forfeiture of rights due to inclusion on secret enemies lists. These items are in our platform, and they’re not negotiable.

Some of my fellow Libertarians believe that removing Weld would damage Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign and possibly even irreparably harm the party itself. I disagree.

In this year of all years, doing the right thing — and being SEEN doing the right thing — is pure political gold. It’s time for Bill Weld to go.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Also published on Medium.

  • Will Tyler

    That’s your opinion Mr. Knapp, with which I strongly disagree. First of all, only the legislature can change gun laws – the VP has no say in the matter unless it is a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

    Secondly, that is only one issue out of dozens. Johnson and Weld are more libertarian than any of the other tickets, and replacing the duly elected VP would only make the LP look dysfunctional.

    Please reconsider your ill-conceived notion.

    • Will,

      Yes, it’s my opinion. And you’re free to disagree, strongly or any other way that suits your fancy.

      The LP is dysfunctional. If it wasn’t, Weld wouldn’t have been able to weasel his way into its vice-presidential nomination. And having let him do so is a mistake we can and should correct.

  • Nicolas Leobold

    Thank God. Thank you Thomas for writing this!

  • Nicolas Leobold

    Sarwark, and practically everyone else on Twitter has been ignoring all my inquiries into this matter. I’m posting this valuable article on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.