By David A. Perry
There has been much suspicion and furor over the selection and candidacy of William Weld as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for Vice President. This suspicion and furor has boiled over in the last few days, due to Mr. Weld’s 11/1/2016 interview on the Rachel Maddow Show. To many members of the Libertarian Party, including myself, it seemed readily apparent that Governor Weld gave a “wink and a nod” endorsement to Hillary Clinton, instead of concentrating on why the Libertarian Party ticket is the best choice for America. Besides vouching for Mrs. Clinton’s technical competence, Weld also vouched for her moral integrity; in direct contradiction to the positions of the Gary Johnson campaign and the Libertarian Party as a whole. William Weld spent no time criticizing the statist positions of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, and could not even bring himself to say that Gary Johnson would be a better President than Hillary Clinton. While Weld was careful not to directly say so, he offered no rebuttal to Rachel Maddow’s assertion that voters in swing states, such as North Carolina, should forgo voting for Johnson/Weld, and instead vote for Hillary Clinton to ensure that Donald Trump does not become President.
It seems obvious to the vast majority of the rank and file members of the Libertarian Party that Bill Weld has betrayed the party, probably was never a true subscriber to libertarian ideals, and most likely accepted the Vice Presidential nomination to promote his own agenda, rather than the agenda of the party or even that of Gary Johnson. People are pissed! Calls for action against Mr. Weld are currently all over social media. Most call for post-election action, such as censuring Mr. Weld, or even permanently revoking his membership in the Libertarian Party. However, some people are actually calling for the drastic pre-election action of recalling Governor Weld from the ticket, and replacing him with a suitable alternative nominee. A petition of the delegates to the 2016 National Convention for this action can be found here:
I agree with this proposed action. However, objections to a Weld recall are plentiful. One objection commonly heard is practical in nature – how could we even legally replace Mr. Weld on the ticket? After all, his name is already on the ballot throughout America, and there certainly is not enough time to change these ballots. The answer to this objection is easy – there is NO problem whatsoever! Due to the nature of the Electoral College and how we elect our President and Vice President here in the United States, it would be perfectly legal to replace Mr. Weld on the ticket. When voters cast their votes for President and Vice President they are not really voting for who should hold those offices, even though they might believe that they are. What they are really doing is voting for a particular political party’s stated nominees, and for that party to appoint electors from that State to the Electoral College.
The votes of those electors is what really decides who gets to become President and Vice President of the United States. If either the President-Elect or the Vice-President-Elect were to die, resign, or otherwise be replaced, the winning party would simply get to select who would fill the vacated office. Furthermore, while electors are usually party loyalists who would never vote against their party’s nominees, there is practically nothing to stop them from changing their mind. Laws against them doing so exist in some states, but most legal scholars believe these laws would likely be ruled unconstitutional if they were ever enforced. In summary, if we replace Governor Weld now (or even after the election, but before the Electoral College cast their votes on December 19, 2016), it would be quite legally acceptable. If the Johnson/Weld ticket were to somehow win a state this Tuesday, the Libertarian Party of that state would select electors to the Electoral College who would be well within their rights to vote for Mr. Weld’s replacement for Vice President.
The more important objection often heard is that a recall of Mr. Weld would damage the progress and reputation of the Libertarian Party. After all, they would argue, the Johnson / Weld ticket is poised to get 4-5% of the national vote, which is a 400-500% increase on previous presidential elections. My question about progress is simple – assuming we do get a 400-500% increase in votes on Tuesday, will that be even vaguely resemble the growth we have in party membership? I sincerely doubt we have increased the ranks of our membership by 25%, nevermind 400-500%. (If somebody has contrary information, I am all “ears.”)
The fact is that any substantial increase in our vote count during this election cycle will be due to the fact that the two major parties in this country have nominated the two worst presidential candidates ever in Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. If people vote for us this time around, it won’t be because they have suddenly become libertarian in their ideology, but only because they are protesting two detestable alternatives. The fact is that most of these voters will return to voting for the establishment parties in future elections, once these parties decide to nominate less deplorable candidates. The fact is that we need more than just an increase in protest votes to say that we are progressing as a party.
What about our reputation? Do we really have a growing reputation as a principled, sane, and “up and coming” party? I would argue to the contrary. We do not! As for “principled,” does most of the public even know what the members of our party believe in? When the Johnson / Weld campaign go around and describe libertarianism as being “fiscally conservative, but socially liberal” does that tell the public anything informative about our ideals? No! All the public gets is that we are some “wishy washy” establishment moderates, and they have no idea that we support a very limited government whose primary and practically sole purpose is to safeguard and secure our individual and unalienable rights. We are the party of individual liberty, but we have no such corresponding public reputation for it.
Sanity? Doubt it! Our public reputation for insanity is highlighted by a candidate for Chair of our party stripping down to a thong on national television. It is highlighted by our presidential candidate being perceived as a “burnt out pot head” who knows nothing about foreign affairs, and who decides it’s a good idea to jokingly fall to the ground in a fake heart attack when debating the serious topic of legalizing marijuana.
How about “up and coming?” Nothing says “up and coming” like having Gary Johnson polling at 10% in May, but instead of increasing his popularity and taking advantage of the gaffes and scandals of his rivals, he will be lucky to retain half of his initial popularity when the most important poll (our election) occurs on Tuesday. Nothing says “up and coming” when your Vice Presidential candidate virtually endorses the other party’s nominee. In summary, there is no good public reputation that we could damage by replacing Bill Weld on the ticket.
Unfortunately we do have a reputation, but it’s one of the “perpetual rape victim.” Seemingly every 4 years or so, somebody like Bob Barr, Wayne Allyn Root, or Bill Weld stop by to “have their way” with us, and do so to promote their own agenda, instead of the agenda of the party. But instead of crying “foul” or taking steps to prevent further “abuse,” we sit back and let it happen again and again.
The fact is that an immediate recall of Bill Weld as our nominee would help to restore our reputation. First of all, any action we take now will be well publicized by the media. Any action we take after the election is over will be a footnote on Page 32 of some obscure newspaper with a circulation of 500. More importantly, this recall would send a message that is “loud and clear” to the American public. It would state unequivocally that we are a party of principle. It would state unequivocally that Bill Weld’s brand of establishment moderate politics is not what our party stands for.
Furthermore, it would send the message that we are sane, that we refuse to be the “victim” any longer for outside political opportunists like Weld, and that we stand tall as a political party that is “up and coming.” The people of our great country are desperate for political alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats who have failed them so miserably. They thirst for uncorrupt and principled leadership, and will scour the desert like a thirsty man in search of life-saving water. The Libertarian Party can be the oasis our country is passionately seeking. We need only to stand out, stand up, and be known. Immediately recalling William Weld as our nominee for Vice President would be a notable and positive step towards that goal.