Editor’s Note: This article was first published on May 19, 2016. Following a report that Weld is exploring a primary challenge as a Republican against President Donald Trump in 2020, CR is republishing this article.
Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and current leading Libertarian candidate for president, is set to name Bill Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, as his running mate today. While Weld certainly has some fiscal conservative bona fides from his time as governor, he also has a statist streak that should give pause to libertarians, especially those who are delegates to the Libertarian convention.
James Antle summed up whether or not Weld is a libertarian best, in a 2005 profile at the American Spectator. Antle wrote, “Does the strange combination of thorough economic conservatism and social liberalism make Weld a libertarian? Not unless libertarians also support expansive environmental regulations, gun control, and affirmative action.”
Here are five statist positions of Bill Weld that should give libertarians pause.
Weld is a gun-grabber. He supported gun control measures in Massachusetts. As the New York Times reported at the time:
With voters growing increasingly fearful of gunfire on the streets, Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts reversed course this week and proposed some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country.
Mr. Weld, a Republican who will run for re-election next year, called for a statewide ban on assault weapons — a proposal he opposed during his 1990 campaign — as well as a waiting period for buying handguns and a prohibition on handgun ownership by anyone under 21. His proposed legislation would also limit the number of handguns an individual could buy and would impose tough penalties for illegal gun sales and gun-related crimes.
“The purpose of this common sense legislation is to remove deadly guns from our streets and to take weapons out of the hands of many teens who themselves are becoming deadly killers,” the Governor said.
Like Donald Trump, Bill Weld believes in the power of the state to take land for private developers. When running for governor of New York, the patrician Weld explained when he would use the power of eminent domain to seize private property for the good of a select few. The New York Sun reported:
At a Crain’s Business Breakfast in Midtown, Mr. Weld said he would support the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, as well as in cases of building affordable housing in certain neighborhoods, depending on “the character of the neighborhood you were razing.”
The benefit to the public created by such private projects would justify the use of eminent domain, he said.
During a Manhattan Institute breakfast on March 1, Mr. Weld said a recent Supreme Court decision that permitted eminent domain to spur economic development “has put alleged collective needs ahead of individual liberty and property rights, and increased tax revenue ahead of the pursuit of individual happiness. It’s a decision I would expect in Communist China.”
The proposed Atlantic Yards project, which would include affordable housing and a new basketball stadium for the Nets, “is clearly okay,” he said yesterday, because “that whole project is imbued with public interest… A major public asset is involved there and it’s not simply an effort to increase the tax base.”
When debates swirled around ending many federal affirmative action programs during the 1990s, then-Gov. Weld stood firmly with the statists who wanted to keep them. The Washington Post reported:
Further complicating the affirmative action issue is that some of the nation’s most prominent moderate Republicans have spoken out against efforts to eliminate it. Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Ohio Gov. George V. Voinovich, Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld and Gov. John Engler of Michigan are among those who support many affirmative action programs.
Weld was a supporter of stricter environmental regulations being promulgated by the EPA. In 1997 he joined Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey in pushing the EPA to establish “stricter limits on smog.”
In 1994, Weld led his administration in pushing for the EPA to require an electric car mandate. The New York Times reported:
In Massachusetts, the Environmental Affairs Secretary, Trudy Coxe, said that the state Legislature adopted the California plan and that the measure was signed by then — Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. Gov. William F. Weld, a Republican, supports the program, she said.
Among the stipulations that New York and Massachusetts agreed to is a requirement that 2 percent of the cars offered for sale in the 1998 model year be electric.
Only a statist would have ever endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain, who was hardly an orthodox conservative in 2008. Obama was already known to be a radical leftist in 2008, when Weld endorsed him. There is nothing remotely libertarian about Barack Obama.
Here’s Weld’s unreserved 2008 endorsement.
Robert Eno is the editor of the WTF MSM!? newsletter and director of retention for Blaze Media.