Gary Johnson Selects “Phony Libertarian” As VP

Gary Johnson, perceived front-runner for the Libertarian Party, announced today that he would choose former Massachusetts’s Governor Bill Weld as his Vice Presidential candidate. On paper, the move seems to make a lot of sense. Weld, like Johnson, is a former Republican who has long had a reputation for being a “libertarian,” having been a long standing supporter of abortion, gay marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, also like Johnson, his grasp of libertarian principles is questionable outside these few social issues.

In 1993 economist Murray Rothbard noted Weld’s disappointing fiscal record in an article titled “Phony Libertarians”:

As Bill Weld increasingly becomes the darling of the Republican Left, his fiscal leftism, too, has now come out of the closet. Weld’s newly proposed budget for next year is a whopping $900 million increase over the current fiscal year, bringing the total up to $15.2 billion. Weld’s proposed big spending budget includes a $9 million increase on environmentalism (bringing the total up to $149 million), and no less than a $175 million hike in “human services, ” including day care, welfare, AIDS funding, and Medicare.

A 1996 article in City Journal also noted Weld’s abandonment of fiscal conservatism while serving as governor:

By January 1992, Weld had abandoned his oft-repeated vow to carve $1 billion from the budget. In his State of the State address that month, he proposed adding $1 billion instead. He boasted of multi-million-dollar “increases in several key programs” in his forthcoming fiscal 1993 spending plan. “As these examples illustrate,” he said, “we’re not against government spending. We don’t wish to dismantle government.”

Of course Johnson’s own fiscal record isn’t much better. As governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson oversaw a state budget that grew from $4.4 billion in 1995 to $7.3 billion by the time he left office in 2003.

Weld, who once called Newt Gingrich his “ideological soulmate,” has also had a long track record of supporting America’s international economic interventionism. Not only was he a vocal defender of NAFTA, he was a prominent supporter of the IMF-led bailout of Mexican during the 1994 peso crisis.

Of course, both of these positions seem odd from a man who considers himself a “libertarian.” As Congressman Ron Paul wrote a few years after the Mexican bailout:

Transferring wealth from one country to another, diluting the value of a stronger currency for the benefit of a poorer currency, can never rectify the serious harm done by decades of monetary mischief. Even if it does work on a temporary basis, like is claimed in Mexico, there are still economic victims. The taxpayer of the United States did not benefit by the Mexico bailout, the Mexican citizens certainly suffered a lot, and it has encouraged the policies that have given us the East Asia crises.

What may also interest Libertarian Party members is that prior to showing up on Gary Johnson’s radar, Weld was perhaps the only  “libertarian” who was a vocal supporter of Jeb Bush during his earlier failed presidential bid. He also assisted George W. Bush’s campaign in 2004 before supporting Mitt Romney over Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012.

While it is true that having two former governors on its ticket may get the Libertarian Party some positive coverage in NPR, ideological libertarians within the party may have reason to be concerned by Johnson’s choice for Veep.


  1. COuld it be that Johnson’s VP choice sinks his chance for the nomination? The LP delegates are a contrary bunch!

    I think Weld is an odd choice. I would have liked a younger candidate, female would be good, and maybe with strong international business connections.

  2. Support for killing babies and for expanding the number of state-issued permission slips for legal contracts between consenting adults hardly demonstrated a firm grasp of “libertarian” principles either. But try explaining that to Johnson and those ideologues in the LP that support him.

  3. I wouldn’t call support for abortion and gay marriage “libertarian” positions. They certainly aren’t the positions of Dr. Libertarian, Ron Paul. His position on both is the Constitutional position of leaving the question of regulation up to the states. And if he follows his son, his position on marriage will be to get the state out of licensing any and all marriages. I had thought this might be Gov. Johnson’s position as well. It would behoove the Libertarian Party, and Gov. Weld, to make it theirs.

    To the extent the Johnson-Weld ticket take positions which are a mixture of what the press would identify as “right” and “left”, however, it maximizes the probabilities of the Libertarian Party to take large numbers of voters from the unpopular candidates of both major parties for the first time in its history. Write your platform, but support your candidates. The most important thing for the LP to do is offer voters a choice the Democrats and Republicans both refuse to do – a principled opposition to too much government, foreign and domestic.

  4. While she is not considered a libertarian, Carly Fiorina would be an excellent choice. She is smart, and a very effective stump speaker/debate speaker.

  5. Hmmm….then I guess many Libertarians are phoney libertarians. Is this a political party looking to welcome new people on board or an exclusive club? Because articles like this do not help our new members feel welcome.

    • One of the reason the libertarian party fails and fails and fails some more is that libs spend their time and energy fighting over who has the biggest L, instead of coming together on the 95% of issues we do agree on.

      Anyone who isn’t 100% in line with YOUR particular flavor of political belief is a “phony libertarian,” and so must be torn down. Look how well that’s worked out for us.

      BTW, Mr. Dalton, gay rights has been part of the libertarian platform since the party was founded. You might want to spend some time on The Google.

  6. After watching the Libertarian debate, I realized that Gary Johnson himself is a phony libertarian, so this pick for VP makes perfect sense to me.

  7. Is it that big of a deal? should I not vote for Gary Johnson? cause apparently I’m a phony libertarian too. I’ve supported many of those same candidates in the past. But, hopefully we all grow, and learn from our mistakes!

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