With the new year still very much ahead of us, it's far too early to say what will turn out to be the most annoying trend of 2019 — the decluttering mania and the Alliance of American Football both look very promising so far — but I have my own early candidate — in the literal sense of someone not named Donald J. Trump who says he's running as a Republican for the presidency of the United States of America in 2020.
If you don't know who Bill Weld is, it's probably because you were neither a resident of Massachusetts in the early to mid '90s or one of the four million or so pot smokers and disgruntled Hillary voters who pulled the lever for Gary "What is Aleppo?" Johnson in 2016. The running mate of the self-described "entrepreneur in the cannabis space" was Weld, a former Republican governor of the Bay State, who has not held political office since 1997. Weld was held in such esteem by the rest of his party that the Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee would not even hold a hearing for him when he was nominated to be ambassador to Mexico.
During his tenure in office Weld acquired a reputation as a socially liberal moderate. He was one of those quaint avuncular stunt politicians who do things like jump into rivers to promote environmental protection. Later he served as the CEO of a for-profit college in Kentucky that was investigated by the Department of Education for its online degree programs. Afterward, when he decided to run for governor again — in New York, not his home state — an opponent accused him of being involved in "multi-million-dollar looting." During the 2008 Republican primary he endorsed Mitt Romney, before pivoting to Barack Obama in the general election. In 2012, he changed his mind again, back to Mitt. Then he quit the Republican Party, ran as a Libertarian, and rejoined the GOP again, apparently just in time to begin his no-doubt very serious and principled primary challenge against Donald Trump in 2020.
Weld would be insufferable enough on his own without the approximately 900,000 puff pieces we are going to read about him over the course of the next few months. In an article announcing his proposed candidacy on Friday, The Washington Post refers to the 73-year-old former governor of Massachusetts — who, again, has not held political office since 1997 — as Trump's first "high-profile challenger." They must have meant his forehead viewed from the side, which does indeed feature a very distinguished-looking widow's peak. The Post also informs us that Weld, who supports abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and drug legalization, will run on a "traditional Republican agenda." They gush about his "unflinching denunciation" of the president (Weld called him a "bully") in his speech. Weld says that he cannot allow himself to sit back while "our precious democracy slips quietly into darkness." Choirs need preachers too.
Don't get me wrong. A small number of people in Washington, D.C., agree with Weld about virtually everything of importance, from the unquestionable importance of a globalized free trade system to even more serious questions, like how icky on a scale of one to eleventy bazillion Drumpf is. I'm sure that some of them really are okay with Weld's disgusting comparison of Trump's immigration policy to "the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna." (A handful might even care enough about the legacy of the Holocaust to recall that the Night of Broken Glass took place in Germany nearly a year before the Nazis invaded Poland.) He has a constituency — the same one as Evan McMullin.
If Weld really has nothing better to do with his time, he should go ahead and run. He'll have no trouble putting a campaign together. Money will be raised and spent. Consultants will be paid. Ads will appear on YouTube. Surrogates will find airtime on all of our major television networks. He will poll in the low single digits in a handful of early primary contests — assuming they are held in the first place.
The rest of us will be busy watching the Salt Lake Stallions.