“I think coercive taxation is theft, and government has a moral duty to keep it to a minimum” –William Weld
In libertarian circles, that quote is near universally agreed upon. The only real detractors to the sentiment would take issue with “minimum” taxation rather than “zero” or “strictly voluntary” taxation. Personally, I’m in full agreement with that quote. However, when it was shared by the chairman of the Libertarian Party, Nick Sarwark, last night, I don’t think it was because it was a particularly erudite expression of libertarian thoughts on taxation. I think it was shared because it came from William Weld.
William Weld was the Vice Presidential nominee last year for the party, and was chosen because the party chose to give deference to Gary Johnson by choosing his preferred running mate in Orlando. Another former two term Republican governor in a blue state, he was seen as a pragmatic choice. He carried executive experience over a state, which is a resume that the Libertarian Party often lacks in candidates. Although a Republican, he had a progressive bent to him, making Weld a sort of semi-independent hybrid between the left and the right.
However, many Libertarians and libertarians were skeptical that he actually represented them ideologically. On monetary policy, gun rights, the drug war, or even just his overall focus on type rather than size of government, he often seemed more like a progressive Republican. As the campaign wore on, many viewed him as being far too deferential to his long time friend, Hillary Clinton. He ran the gamut from saying he was vouching for her, that she was the most qualified candidate, that a Trump presidency caused him greater fear. Certainly, he went out of his way to focus his attacks more one way than the other, and even hinted that voters in swing states might want to avoid supporting the very ticket he was running under.
And when Austin Petersen announced his bid for Senate, he specifically cited his lack of support for Weld as an instance of placing principle over party.
Predictably, many of the comments under Sarwark’s post were critical, not of the quote, but of Weld himself. Even many of Weld’s defenders were simply making the argument that although he wasn’t perfect, great, or even good… he wasn’t horrible and he did have some positives to bring to the ticket as well. One response Sarwark gave to a Weld critic, however, was particularly snarky and noteworthy.
“Bill Weld is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party.
Perhaps you are confusing him with the Republican seeking the Senate nomination in Missouri.
Easy mistake, they were both at the convention last May.”
I’m as much a fan of snark as the next guy. If it’s clever, I’m even amused when it’s aimed my way, or against a candidate or ideology I believe in. But given that Weld was nearly a lifelong Republican, what did Sarwark mean? Something akin to a purchased title of nobility.
By “lifetime member”, he’s referring to a donor classification reached by giving $1,500 to the LP. In other words, it’s a title that you pay for, rather than earn. This tithe certainly says nothing about Weld’s ideology. Extolling such a donation as a virtue, while tying it to party loyalty in contrast does, however, show a preference for party over principle.