Ron Paul slammed the Johnson-Weld ticket in an interview with FOX Business’s Stuart Varney earlier this week.
VARNEY: [Are you going to vote for] Gary Johnson?
PAUL: Well, if he were a libertarian, a true libertarian, and promoted the non-aggression principle, and didn’t have Weld on the ticket, I’d consider it.
Many have been wondering why Paul hasn’t come out with an endorsement of Johnson, including our own Editor-in-Chief Josh Guckert. Now we finally have an answer.
Before the “purist” name-calling begins, it’s important not to over-focus on the first part of Paul’s statement: that Johnson isn’t a “true” libertarian. It is the case that Johnson isn’t as principled as Paul was, but Dr. Paul also supplies two other reasons: 1) that Johnson doesn’t talk about the NAP or spread libertarian values, and 2) that Bill Weld is on the ticket.
When it comes to spreading libertarianism, Johnson has a mixed record. He does have many libertarian positions and is certainly more libertarian than the major party candidates. However, the governor has done this within an overall strategy of acting like the sane, centrist alternative.
Libertarianism is not centrism. Libertarians are not a weird mishmash of the two major parties. Instead, we believe in a completely distinct value, liberty, that the Democrats and Republicans have no respect for. We believe in leaving people alone and allowing others to choose what they do with their own body and property. Rather than trying to spread libertarianism, then, Johnson has diluted his message in order to garner votes. It’s no wonder that Paul takes issue with this.
What about Weld? Dr. Paul isn’t the only one who has criticized his addition to the ticket. Many libertarians have taken issue with Bill Weld, and rightly so.
When Weld was governor, he increased increased gun regulations, environmental regulations, and used eminent domain. Afterwards, he supported the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, and Obamacare. He endorsed Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012, and John Kasich just a few months ago. The last wants to start multiple wars in the Middle East and let the government into your phone.
The addition of Weld to the ticket inherently harms the message of liberty, and Paul is right to oppose him. It only furthers Johnson’s centrist rhetoric and damages the movement.
Finally, TLR Associate Editor Micah Fleck makes an interesting point, that Paul has endorsed other candidates less libertarian than Johnson before. However, there’s a difference between candidates running for the Libertarian Party and candidates who don’t claim the libertarian mantle. The former are the de facto representatives of libertarianism to the public. It is therefore sensible and completely justified to have a double standard in this situation. After all, the purpose of the LP is to spread the message of liberty.
*Additional Note: For the sake of precision, Paul does make it sound with his last statement that he might still vote for Johnson-Weld. When asked if he’d support Clinton, Paul states “No, it means that you’d pick out the best thing of all the people and try to put it together in a concise philosophy called libertarianism, and promote liberty rather than interventionism and authoritarianism.” This is a little incoherent, so it’s hard to know what he meant by this.
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