Bill Weld: President in 2020 ?

It seems that Bill Weld, former Governor of my state (Massachusetts), will run for President. He’s going to be 74 this year, which for some is a no-no, but my view is that as long as you are alive and fully functioning, the number of your years cannot be bad. Thus if Weld runs, and I hope he does, the question is, why should any serious voter support him ?

Perhaps I should ask the opposite question : why should any serious voter NOT support him ? Assuming that his agenda isn’t full-tilt Libertarian but something more practical, Weld may well merit support well ahead of the usual party suspects. I now make my case :

( 1 ) can it be that Mr. Trump was elected not for his agenda, which featured only one identifiable position,. that of opposing all immigration, but because he was not a puppet of the partisan zealots who have ruled the center ring of our politics recently ? I know all about the argument that it was racism that field the success of Mr. Trump : but millions of 2012 Obama voters voted for Mr. Trump. Did these Obama voters suddenly become racists ? More likely these voters chose Obama because, he being of color, Obama was seen as an outsider to the partisan marionette show.

We who are not partisan puppeteers despise the show and for very solid reason.l At least 80 percent of us are not partisans. We want our elected leaders to leave us alone, to do their job of administering Federal departments, do that job efficiently and respectfully, and work them co-operatively. We do NOT want Republicans to create a Republican America, nor Democrats create a Democratic America. we simply want a working America. We don’t want revenge politics, we don’t want base agendas, and we don’t want the current fad for hounding people out of office, or out of candidacy, for stuff they did or said decades ago. We are not tired of forgiving or of its power to heal and unite.

Nor do we like the acrid taste of accusation and humiliation which the Brett Kavanaugh hearings modeled. I said at the time that the attempt by Democrats to ruin a fine Judge’s reputation on the rail of ancient accusations and half-baked hallucinations was a very long bridge too far; that it must never happen again. But it Is now happening again, with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who 35 years ago, it seems, wore a racially inflammatory costume at some sort of party. Myself, I’m far more moved by what officials like Governor Northam do by way of public policy today than by what they did at a party 35 years ago. It is, however, a lot easier to condemn a sidebar than to appraise the main event, and condemnation always feel better to the weak mind than open-minded analysis. But Governor Northam was nominated by a party, and his fate now rests with the plotters and interesteds who secured his nomination. It is not likely to be a fate made easier thereby.

We used to complain of how political parties nominated standard bearers in “smoke filled rooms” where the “bosses” dealt out party favors indifferent to the wishes of the voters at large. Are the party nominations of today so different ? Yes, they play in public; but no, they aren’t any more open than the smoke-filled boss rule of 50 years ago. Its still the very small battalions of activists — zealots or big donors or both — who decide. The voters get a vote, yes; but the choices presented are mostly the names sponsored by the new-era bosses. We the 80 percent deserve better. Never again should a Donald Trump, with all of his comprehensive unfitness, be the only choice available to voters who isn’t packaged by those who see America through partisan-hued glasses.

Which is why I am now writing about Bill Weld. The Republicans and Democrats alike want the 2020 election to be their personal monopoly of power. Why should we the voters allow them this ? Must we accept the terms the two parties offer us, take it or leave it ? I say “no.”

MR. Trump is dangerously unfit. He seems clearly a Russian asset. He knows nothing of policy, and such policy as he advocates is anathema to most voters who aren’t political Evangelicals. His presidency immediately threatens the rights and opportunities of immigrants, Muslims, LGBT, and people needing public assistance; and his methods threaten our rule of law. He must be defeated. But we won’t have gained much if, in place of Mr. Trump’s cruelty and mendacity we elect a team of insufferably judgmental, unforgiving speech and behavior police from whose condemnations there is no appeal.

Bill Weld likely advocates the Massachusetts system : socially live-and-let-live, economically prudent, government reluctant to expand its reach. The system works well in this state, where unique political math allows the voters to elect Republican Governors who actually administer in a non-partisan manner that mirrors that 56 percent of our voters ant precisely that. The nation could do worse than to embrace the Massachusetts system. Perhaps the election of Bill Weld as President could dissolve the grip of hardcore partisanship or at least begin the loosening. This must happen. If we allow the pre-occupations of partisans — vigilante busybodying by the Democrats, imposed religion by the Republicans — to poison our politlics, we will lose the democracy we profess to value. We may already have lost it.

All of which gives a potential Bill Weld campaign serious immediacy.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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