The likely Libertarian ticket is more experienced than any party in decades

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Let’s be honest. When most people think of Libertarian candidates, they picture nutjobs. Your local conspiracy theorist ranting against various American institutions doesn’t often rally voters, which is why there are so few elected Libertarians across the country, despite the party’s 45-year lifespan.

2016 might finally change all that. Libertarians are going from metaphorical lone gunmen to experienced leaders in very short order thanks to the likely presidential and vice presidential nominees.

Gary Johnson, the party’s frontronner and previous nominee, has announced his preference for his running mate, Bill Weld. Like Johnson himself, Weld is a former Republican governor of a deep blue state, Massachusetts. The two also share a proven fiscal conservative record despite governing in such hostile territory.

If Johnson and Weld do win their respective nominations at the Libertarian National Convention in just over a week, the party will be able to claim the most experienced ticket of any party in decades.

Weld’s resume is impressive enough on its own:

 

  • House Judiciary Committee counsel during Watergate
  • US Attorney, appointed by Reagan
  • led Criminal Division of Justice Dept, promoted by Reagan
  • two-term Governor of Massachusetts
  • nominated for Ambassador to Mexico by Clinton, but withdrew over political opposition
  • Libertarian nominee for Governor of New York

 

Add that to Johnson’s two terms as Governor of New Mexico and extensive business experience, and it will be almost impossible for the Republican or Democratic tickets to compete with the depth of executive and administrative experience Libertarians will put forth this year.

Unparalleled experience aside, there are at least two reasonable arguments against Johnson’s choice of Weld as his running mate. Johnson and Weld’s governing and ideological similarities might overlap too much.

VPs are often selected to fill gaps in the presidential nominee’s qualifications. It might have been more beneficial to choose someone with more legislative experience, or a better campaigner, or a different demographic selection.

While wholly irrelevant to actual governing, Hillary Clinton can claim to be the first woman president, if elected, and will likely have another minority as her running mate, HUD Secretary Julian Castro or New Jersey Senator Cory Booker being two high profile options. Johnson and Weld, while inarguably more qualified executively, will be two more old white men vying for the jobs.

Ideologically, Johson and Weld are almost identical. Both are proven fiscal conservatives, pro-choice, pro-LGBT equality, and anti-prohibition. The only significant difference is Weld’s more moderate Second Amendment stance, having signed several gun and ammunition restrictions as Governor.

Some might have advised Johnson to choose a running mate who could attract more conservative #NeverTrump voters instead of doubling down on his own left-libertarianism. While impossible logistically due to the way to the Libertarian Party chooses its nominees, fellow presidential candidate Austin Petersen as VP might have buttressed the right flank of the party with his pro-life stance and more strident religious liberty arguments.

Others might also argue that Johnson should have chosen a more anti-establishment figure in order to capitalize on the outsider sentiment holding aloft Trump and Sanders in this election. However, as the Republican nominee, Trump will likely have a lock on that voter block already; attempting to chip away at it would prove ineffective, as Ted Cruz found out. An experienced candidate like Weld gives an option to voters who would otherwise have only Hillary Clinton to look to for gravitas on the ballot.

In just over a week, the Libertarian Party will have its ticket. Unbound delegates go to the Miami convention and choose among the presidential and vice presidential candidates May 27-30. Johnson and Weld may not be the perfect choices, but they will almost certainly have the claim of the most executive experience of any party running in the 2016 election.


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