The unlibertarian Libertarians

What is the point of being the Libertarian Party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates if you don’t believe in libertarian principles?

Jim Geraghty poses that question:

Gary Johnson, speaking with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times earlier this month:

I’m open also to the notion of a carbon tax. That it does have an impact, that it ends up being revenue-neutral. I’m not looking at this as a revenue generator, as much as there are costs associated with, there are health and safety issues with carbon.

It’s a shame the Libertarian Party couldn’t nominate, you know, actual libertarians this year. Even if you let Johnson off the hook on this not-very-detailed support for a carbon tax, Johnson and Weld praised Stephen Breyer and Merrick Garland as their kind of Supreme Court justices. That’s the pro-affirmative-action, anti-school-voucher, dissenting-against-Heller Justice Breyer.

Johnson’s the kind of Libertarian who doesn’t just want unrestricted access to abortion, but opposes cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He thinks it’s okay for New Mexico to fine a photographer for refusing to work at a gay wedding, because “on the basis of religious freedom, being able to discriminate — something that is currently not allowed — discrimination will exist in places we never dreamed of.”

Finally, the vice-presidential nominee of the party that’s supposed to stand for individual liberty recently talked about how the most popular rifle in America and handguns are on par with nuclear weapons. No, really. I wish I was making this up, but there’s video.

“The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle; the problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon, and those are independent criminal offenses. That is when they become, essentially, a weapon of mass destruction. The problem with handguns probably is even worse than the problem of the AR15.”

This sort of language would be over-the-top coming from the Brady Campaign or Mike Bloomberg. It’s just inexplicable coming from the Libertarian ticket, and suggests that Weld is a fair-weather friend of the Second Amendment at best. No surprise to those of us who studied his record in office:

While failing to keep his fiscal promises, Weld also managed to make some moves on cultural issues that are seriously inconvenient for a Libertarian candidate in 2016. In 1993, as governor, he endorsed a slew of gun-control proposals: a statewide ban on assault weapons, a waiting period for buying handguns, a limit on the number of handguns an individual could buy, and a prohibition on handgun ownership by anyone under 21. “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,” he said at the time.  Great choices, Libertarians!

Great choices, Libertarians!

Not that Democrats or Republicans should talk. Perhaps Weld (or after him Mitt Romney) was as Republican a governor as you can get in Massachusetts. But when you have the Libertarian label you’d think you should not support gun control. Nor should you oppose religious freedom and support carbon taxes.

If I’m going to vote for a Libertarian, I want someone who actually believes what Libertarians are supposed to stand for. You’d think members of the Libertarian Party would want that too.



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