“Let’s reintroduce prisoners to the joys of breaking rocks’ ‘, promised former Governor of Massachusetts, now Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld during his election to Governor in 1990. This reflected his platform twenty years ago, as head of the Criminal Division Agency, appointed by Ronald Reagan to enforce the War on Drugs. The ‘war’ banked off the widespread fear of crime at the time. Yet, what the ‘war’ really did was implement another wave of institutionalized racism towards communities affected by prejudice, racism, and slavery in the past . Yet, how can the same man who supported and enforced these acts, Bill Weld, end up being nominated Vice President to Libertarian Gary Johnson during the 2016 election? It represents the problem of politicians focusing on ways to win political offices solely by following popular opinions regardless of their own platform, in which it undermines their legitimacy. Weld is one example of a politician with a platform that has flip-flopped time and time again.
I had a lucky opportunity to meet Bill Weld at his presidential town hall at UMass Boston, in which he used to get support for his presidential campaign…now as a Republican? Considering he just identified with the Libertarian party only a short four years ago, it reminds me of the recent debates over Bernie Sanders campaigning for the Democratic nomination, while being historically an Independent Vermont Senator . I asked Bill Weld though for his platform on criminal justice reform, bringing up his infamous 1990’s promise; I wanted to see how he had changed. I had asked the first of two questions at that moment, and he decided to answer my question second.
In his response to my question, he reflected on his past as the Attorney General of the Criminal Division Agency, in which being harsh on crime was “part of his job description”, and that he had put a lot of focus on stopping white collar crime and corruption in the government. Yet, he made it a point to leave the history behind, by distancing himself from mandatory minimum laws and acclaiming his support of marijuana legalization, a recent change of opinion which occurred during his Libertarian campaign with Gary Johnson. The topic of marijuana legalization has become increasingly popular, in which many states have pushed for legalization. Bill Weld ended his response to my question by stating that he supports criminal justice reform and pulling back on “militarization of the police”, a sharp contrast to his past of being tough on crime.
People do change, but many of those currently campaigning for the White House have been seen flip-flopping on opinions and agenda to establish more support for themselves. In the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden has been one of the largest examples of this, in which he has been noted as having an inconsistent record regarding abortion, criminal justice, and segregation, in which his past record “is now out of sync with many democratic voters” . Another example would be Michael Bloomberg, with his heavily criticized “stop and frisk” programs, in which he backtracked on his support on the programs since beginning his presidential campaign . He also does not care about the importance of primaries, looking to fund thousands of advertisements and “meme” campaigns which have become an important staple of the internet. It is another example of a politician investing in the popularity of a subject, in an attempt to draw support with no relation to a platform.
We have seen this occur in previous elections too, such as in the 2016 election in which Hillary Clinton ran on becoming the first female president, while Donald Trump ran and won on fueling populist rage and ideals , despite his history of flip-flopping his support between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. During the 2012 election, Mitt Romney also sought populist support and an endorsement from Donald Trump who had been a leader in the birther movement  against incumbent president Barack Obama, yet recently Mitt Romney has been highlighted in the news for being the first politician to support an article of impeachment towards their own party president.
The legitimacy of these politicians are undermined when one begins to consider the stark contrast between platforms they have made in the present, compared to the future. Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg have been slammed in previous debates during the 2020 election for their inconsistent platforms and ideals, while on the contrary, Bernie Sanders has been celebrated for having a consistent platform, although his flip-flopping between being an Independent or Democrat has confused some people. Having an inconsistent record will result in people being confused about candidates, in which it could also lead to distrust towards those who have had malleable ideologies.
At the end of the town hall I attended, another attendee came up to me and said that he had to really, REALLY, contemplate his support for Bill Weld after hearing my statement. In that moment, it seemed like he did not know who Bill Weld was. It was the result of his inconsistent platform, which resulted in confusion and distrust from one of his necessary supporters. Could Bill Weld and other politicians save themselves from their past platforms, if they happen to change?
 DuVernay, Ava. 2016. “13th.” (7 Oct, 2016).
 Fineout, Gary. 2020. “2 Florida Democrats sue to keep Sanders off primary ballot.” 2, Mar, 2020. (2, Mar, 2020).
 Astor, Maggie. 2019. “Joe Biden on Abortion and the Hyde Amendment.” 2, Mar, 2020. (2, Mar, 2020).
 Rose, Joel. 2020. “Mike Bloomberg Can’t Shake The Legacy Of Stop-And-Frisk Policing In New York.” 2, Feb, 2020. (2, Feb, 2020).
 Kazin, Michael. 2016. “Trump and American Populism.” 1, Mar, 2020. (1, Mar, 2020).
 Kirk, Michael. 2017. “Divided States of America.” (17-18, Jan, 2017).
Photo by UMass Boston, taken during their live-stream of the Town Hall event.
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