Bill Weld: An Alternative to Trump
DES MOINES, Iowa – Bill Weld, former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian vice presidential nominee, made a surprise visit to Drake University campus for a roundtable event on Jan. 8. This visit opportunity came about because Mr. Weld was in the area on the campaign trail for the Republican presidential nomination this caucus cycle. Because of the suddenness of the event and perhaps the obscurity of Mr. Weld in the public eye, only a small number of students and faculty appeared, around 20 people maximum. Additionally, the location in the small Medbury honors lounge gave the whole event a rather personal angle. In addition to Mr. Weld’s more reserved mannerisms and tone, the setting came as close it might be possible to voters meeting the candidates in a personal way.
After introducing himself and sitting down, Mr. Weld addressed the main issue most people in the room were interested in; why did he run with Gary Johnson for vice president in 2016? The short answer is that it was complicated. According to Mr. Weld, he and Johnson had the idea in 2016 that there were enough middle of the road people that someone might have been able to win the presidency by running on the Libertarian party ticket. Apparently, Mr. Weld did not initially join Johnson in this attempt and only did so after Johnson won the Libertarian nomination despite recently being a Republican. According to Mr. Weld, the idea of running a six-month campaign with Johnson seemed quite attractive, though, in the end, it didn’t work out.
Mr. Weld explained that he believed strongly that there are a lot of people out there that want a fiscally conservative and socially liberal candidate. He isn’t exactly wrong, in 2016 his campaign with Johnson received a record 3 percent popular vote for the Libertarian ticket and had a 13% in the polls in July 2016, 2% away from being able to appear in the presidential debates. His campaign strategy of vying for the Republican nomination and his strategy overall remained an enigma as he dodged the only question asked about this.
However, unlike many of the candidates on the campaign trail today, Mr. Weld was willing and eager to answer policy questions specifically when possible. For example, when asked what he planned to do about the environment, he posed the idea of a carbon fee where large corporations would pay 10 to 20 percent of their income until they become carbon neutral. This money would then be sent back to the taxpayers in tax refunds. When asked about health care, he gave a comprehensive plan for solving what he sees as the main issues: healthcare and drug prices. His focus is to change the patent process for drugs to allow for more competition and to remove regulations disallowing drugs to be imported from safe countries, such as Canada, to allow the prices to come down via more supply. Additionally, he wishes to remove the regulations that favor low competition in healthcare and provide tax incentives for introducing medical leave for companies that have not done so.
Overall, to those that are slightly conservative or independent, Bill Weld provides an important and principled alternative to the current administration and the Democrat establishment. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that his low name recognition will gain him any significant media presence.