After a press release last week, many news organizations confused Bill Weld’s comments as an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Libertarian publications, including our own, were quick to correct the record since Weld did not explicitly make such remarks.
However, in an interview Tuesday on Morning Joe, Weld once again reiterated the theme present in his press release. In response to a question about who he was voting for, the Libertarian stated “I’ll vote for my own ticket, but I think the most important thing for the country is Donald Trump not being elected President.”
For those unversed in the science of messaging, this statement is equivalent to a promotion of Hillary Clinton.
If you don’t understand, put away your Johnson-Weld 2016 hat for a second. Put on the hat of the average American viewer watching MSNBC in the morning.
Weld: “I’ll vote for my own ticket, but I think the most important thing for the country is Donald Trump not being elected President.”
The average viewer will hear this and say “Oh, even though he’s voting Johnson, he thinks I should vote Hillary Clinton to stop a Donald Trump presidency.”
If you still don’t understand, consider the following. Weld starts with “I’m voting for Johnson” and ends with “the most important thing [. . .] is Donald Trump not being elected.” His emphasis, and the thought the viewers leave the show with, is that Trump should not be elected.
Furthermore, Weld prefaces the second half of the sentence with the word ‘but.’ Why would he say ‘but?’ If the second half was congruent with the first, and he was really trying to persuade voters to vote Johnson, wouldn’t he have said ‘and?’ ‘But’ signals a change in thought. In other words, “I’m doing this, but you should do that.”
He also describes Trump not getting the presidency as ‘the most important thing.’ More important than what? More important than voting for Johnson/Weld, as the word ‘but’ signals.
This is indisputable: Bill Weld is campaigning for Hillary Clinton. The only reason Johnson-Weld supporters don’t realize this is out of a bias for their own candidates. But the message Americans are receiving is “I need to vote for Hillary.”
A second look at Weld’s press release last week reveals the same underlying theme. The Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate starts off his statement exalting the Libertarian Party and Johnson’s campaign. However, he ends with, and therefore places emphasis on, Trump’s disastrous characteristics.
Here is the last paragraph of his remarks:
In the final days of this very close race, every citizen must be aware of the power and responsibility of each individual vote. This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining. Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States.
Libertarians of all people should realize how creepily similar this sounds to how someone would dissuade third party voters from voting their conscience. Hint: If you understand how it sounds similar, even though it’s not the same, then you should also understand why the American people might see it in the wrong light.
At the time, in private conversations, I commented that either: 1) Weld doesn’t understand messaging; or 2) his priorities are messed up, and his wording reflects that. I don’t think Weld is any stranger to messaging and I think he knows what he’s doing. But even if he didn’t, he could easily change his rhetoric so that millions of Americans would hear him telling them to vote Libertarian.
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