Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Libertarian Party Gets Played by the GOP Establishment

Trump supporters have very little to smile about these days. The media has, once again, proven itself to be the defender of the status quo and not its critic. His poll numbers are slipping, and the hope that selecting Mike Pence would unify the Republican Party has faded. The candidate’s magic seems to be gone as he struggles to find his general election footing -- while Hillary is hiding from view and slowly slithering towards the Oval Office. A grim picture indeed, but a curious comment appeared on my Facebook news feed that brought a little levity to my day.

“Could someone muzzle the LP VP nominee?” posted one of my libertarian friends. Muzzle? Wait a minute! It was just a couple of months ago that Libertarian Party members were boasting about having attracted such a notable political figure as William Weld to join their party.  Together with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party was proud to have two former successful governors as their presidential ticket. The party was on the road to respectability and headed for its largest electoral gains. The LP ticket has been enjoying unprecedented media attention and is consistently included in polls. It was all good news and now libertarians are talking about muzzling Weld????

Upon further review, I discovered the source of the angst. During an interview with Revolt, Weld stated that rifles can be easily modified to become “weapons of mass destruction” and indicated that hand guns might be worse than AR-15s on that score. Weld didn’t stop there. He went on to say that anyone on a terrorist watch list should not be allowed to purchase firearms. To appreciate the horrific nature of Weld's comments, as far as liberty lovers are concerned, one must realize that the Second Amendment is as sacrosanct to libertarians as a Muslim Gold Star family is to the mainstream media. Libertarians are not about nuances, gray areas. In their view, the right to bear arms means all arms or, as another friend described it, having “nuclear arms on a farm”.  Taking away Second Amendment rights based on a terror watch list, not only violates the principle that government cannot infringe on individual rights without due process, it also feeds into the libertarian tendency to fear government conspiracies to take away their guns. No wonder liberty lovers want Weld’s mouth taped.

Libertarians are finding out that Bill Weld is a liberal, northeastern Republican. He did a masterful job disguising as a libertarian spirit by focusing on his stances on social issues and balance budgets. But Weld has been and will remain a Republican. It would not surprise me at all if he votes for Hillary Clinton this November. Remember, Weld endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and called his platform "outstanding". In 2016, he endorsed John Kasich in the Republican primary and has had wonderful things to say about Hillary.  In all likelihood Weld joining the LP is just another attempt by the GOP establishment to chip away Republican votes from Trump in the general election. Lest we forget, the GOP establishment had absolutely no qualms working with Democrats in the 2014 Mississippi Senate Republican primary to ensure their pick, Thad Cochran, won the runoff. GOP strategists don’t know much about delivering limited government but they do know their way around political machinations and tricks.

The first clue that the GOP establishment intended to use the LP to defeat Trump was longtime Bush political operative Mary Madeline joining the party. Her plan to nominate pro-life Austin Peterson as the Libertarian presidential candidate would have provided a home for disappointed Cruz supporters. Libertarians opted to stay with Gary Johnson but in absence of Peterson, Weld will do just fine as far as the GOP establishment is concerned.  The LP nominated as their vice presidential candidate Susan Collins in a suit and tie and I cannot help but smile.