Tim Moen, Canadian Libertarian Politico, Defends Libertarian Political Action


You might remember Canada's Tim Moen, who is running for a seat in Parliament from Alberta, from Nick Gillespie's blogging about his inspirational campaign slogan "I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns," or from his appearance on Fox Business' The Independents (see clip at bottom of post).

Like all libertarians of any stripe, Moen feels on occasion a bit put upon by other libertarians telling him he's doing it wrong. He has written an interesting defense of being a libertarian and seeking elective office from libertarians who find the state and elections an inherently un-libertarian snare:

I have blogged at length, produced videos, talked with people in my personal life, produced podcasts and engaged in online debates to advance the message of liberty. I have never received a whole lot of response or feedback from people outside the liberty community itself.  I have been happy to contribute to thought within this community and have felt it to be gratifying.

Preaching to the choir has been relatively safe. Stepping out on this limb of political campaigning has been intensely scary. Imagine standing alone in front of a church of devout christians that you are about to try and disabuse of their faith…that is what this feels like. As I've been delivering this message to the faithful I have had an overwhelming response from many of the members and it is giving me hope and evidence that I am doing something that is far more effective than anything I've done….

Moen then explains some of the things that would have to proven to him to convince him that "what I'm doing [running for office] is harmful to the liberty movement."

Those include:

Show me that preaching to the converted is more effective than reaching out to the "lost" in my particular circumstances.

Provide me with evidence that I could be doing something more effective….ME, not you or someone else and not some Platonic version of me thats in your head…..

Explain to me how someone who is committed to peace and non-aggression taking a spot that would otherwise be occupied by a politician interested in using the guns of government is not making the world safer?

Moen then turns around the complaint that "libertarian does something counterproductive for liberty" back on the complainers:

Is criticizing me a good use of your time fellow activists? I suppose it is if you have good reason to believe I'm going to harm your mission and if you don't have something more productive to be doing then please continue fighting the good fight, present a coherent argument that I'm causing harm. Is it possible that it is simply easier and safer to criticize me than to try and enter into hostile territory yourself? If evidence suggests that the amount of delusion in the hearts and minds of men is falling at a more rapid rate from the form of activism I'm taken than the form you are taking will you consider a course correction in your own activism?

It's a grand thing to avoid or evade the state. But it's there. Is it a bad thing for liberty if people who understand libertarian principles seek its office and deliver its message within one of the few contexts in which most people are prepared to think about political ideas–elections?

Moen wants his fellow libertarians to answer that question with a "no."

For example, it seems quite clear to me that any random person on the Internet trying to spread Moen's colorful slogan would get zero attention. But when someone running for office does, well, that's news. And seems to me there is nothing wrong with a libertarian taking advantage of that dynamic.

Moen on The Independents:

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  1. “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns,”

    Awesome bumper sticker.

    I approve as a classic liberal. Throw some deficit reduction in and it is perfect.

  2. Like all libertarians of any stripe, Moen feels on occasion a bit put upon by other libertarians telling him he’s doing it wrong.

    This fucker knows his shit! Some Paleo has probably tried to boot him out based on his LP Purity Test score.

    1. The irony…

      1. You don’t know me but I have posted here for 6-7 years as a pro-drug, pro-gun capitalist secularist.

        aka “troll” – which humors and inspires me coming from the conservative base here at H&R.

        “Capitalist” – yes Buffett and Soros are too. But rednecks think only a conservative can be a capitalist.

        Go figure.

        1. Actually, everyone here knows you. And you left out the part that you have posted *as* whatever, with you head buried firmly up Obama’s arse.

          1. Hell, Obama is just better than the Bushpigs were.

            That is not saying very much at all.

            1. So, if you really believe that, you can’t grasp the option that instead of having your head up one of their arses, you can’t choose the ‘none of the above’ option?

              Sad, you have had every chance to redeem yourself here and you clearly choose to remain a disingenuous troll.

              1. I can’t choose “none of the above”. I voted Gary Johnson in 2012 after voting anti-GOP in 2004/2008 (Dem). I wanted to send a signal to the GOP for inflicting Bush on us.

                I WILL vote. I am not a nihilist like Episiarch is.

                1. Say bad things about Obama, now, or you are a totally disingenuous loser. DO IT!

                  1. Critique Obama? That is fair.

                    Drones? Overreach all the way and likely blowback.

                    The ACA? Heavy handed mandates and subsidies which make the payoff for breaking the cartel dubious. Net negative.

                    Surveillance? Total failure and status quo.

                    Raising the top end rate? I would prefer cuts elsewhere but the deficit was out of control.

                    Transparency? Total failure – status quo again though.

                    Executive overreach? Overblown.

              2. Hyperion,

                You do understand that you are “debating” a non-sentient creature that literally does not comprehend one word of what you have written, right?

                It is merely throwing strings of characters into comments with no idea of what they mean. The weighting used to determine its choices is controlled by the number of responses it gets.

                All you are doing is tuning its neural net on how get more of a response out of you.

                You are literally wasting your time and, worse, cruelly misleading it into thinking it’s people.

                1. Of course I know, tarran. Of couse I know…

                2. Because ‘tarran, no one could possibly disagree with you.


        2. I don’t know about Soros.

          Buffett on the other hand is pure crony who ran to Washington and lobbied billions to bail out the banks he invested in.

          A corporate welfare queen like Buffett is no capitalist.

          Nick wrote an article about it. You trusted nick when he told you about Carter’s deregulation street cred why do you not trust him about scum bag Buffett?

  3. Okay, there’s layers to be peeled at here. First: is it a good idea to try and get what we want at the ballot box and how much effort should be expended there? I think the minimal effort is the right thing to do at the very least. I vote and so should you unless all the options are truly awful. I joined the Liberal party a ‘supporter’ (NOT a member) so I could vote for Findlay and not the awful eco-freak. If the Contards ever wise up and depose Harper I’ll join them to vote for Bernier or someone who doesn’t suck. But beyond this? Actually running? Seems like a lot of time and effort for not much return. Even the Wildrose Party is becoming a bust despite winning opposition status in Alberta as they have ripped out their meaningful planks.

    Even if going the ballot route is a good idea, the Libertarian Party might be the worst way to go about it. A total disaster in America and I doubt Canada’s version is any better. Sometimes I wonder if it is a device created by statists to capture and harmlessly dissipate anti-statist efforts.

    Paradigm shifts like Bitcoin and ZEDE and Venetian separatism and other forms of disruption are likely our best bets. Second best is movements that push around pols like the Tea Party, which is petering out but had a pretty good run.

    1. If the historical narrative we tell ourselves is correct, then the U.S. used to be a lot more libertarian, or at least classically liberal, than it is today. That changed because progressives and others were able to pass laws and reshape government. To do that they, had to win elections, and to win elections, they had to first run. That isn’t the whole story, but it’s a big part of it. I’d say actually running *has* to be part of the strategy for libertarians.

      1. It is possible that the actions of progressives in changing government and hence politics and the changes in media that have altered how politics is done have both made politics inherently illiberal in a way they didn’t used to be. Elections may just be a rear-guard action we fight until technological and other innovations deliver us Elysium.

        As an aside, libertarians need to stop loving even the late 19th Ce so much. The anti-trade laws of the time were awful and that was not all of the problems.

        1. I agree with your second point. That period of history tends to be viewed with rose colored glasses, or whatever the official color of libertarianism is (rich male white?).

          As for your first point, I agree that the laws we have now are a quagmire of anti-liberalism. But *politics* is totally fluid. Merely running in elections won’t change hearts and minds, but changing hearts and minds won’t mean anything if there aren’t libertarians to elect. But if we can reach a critical mass of libertarian leaning voters and give them meaningful options at the ballot box, then it is possible to change government from the inside. Monumentally challenging, yes, but the system still allows for it.

          1. That period of history tends to be viewed with rose colored glasses stained glass monocles


        2. libertarians need to stop loving even the late 19th Ce so much.

          IMO, it is less about being enamored with the 19th century and more about being impressed at how far we came from the Middle Ages as a people, and the tragedy that the 19th century systems (which I agree were imperfect, but trending towards more liberty) were replaced almost wholesale after WWI — first by execrable communist and fascist regimes, and later by tolerable (but hardly good) social democracies.

          1. If you think about it, we didn’t end slavery and win most of the liberty fights during the interwar period or even after — we won them during the 19th century. We have made some incremental progress in some areas, but nothing like the enormous leap in liberty made during that time. Certainly the 20th-21st centuries have seen similarly enormous leaps in Third World liberty, but there is nothing wrong with a little bit of nostalgia for a world order which, had it been preserved, would have seen millions less murdered and many more freedoms expanded upon.

    2. The worst part about being anti-harper is you get shoe-horned in with the radical left NDPers

    3. “I joined the Liberal party a ‘supporter’ (NOT a member)”

      I knew something was wrong with you 😉

  4. Canadian Libertarian? Wait… WTF? I thought those only existed on H&R and that we know all 3 of them? You mean there are more of them? Oh god, this is scary stuff, anarchy is nigh… cats and dogs sleeping together, locusts from the bottomless pit, it’s all coming true!

    1. We never did do a head count.

    2. Aren’t there only, like, 15 or 20 Canadians total?

      1. Say it isn’t so! If that’s really true… then there could be hundreds of rogue Canuckistanians threatening the status quo all over the world! It’s worse than I thought!

        Let’s get a head count, fast! There’s still time to save the planet!

        1. They all left after global warming killed the last polar bear.

          Canadians do eat polar bear when they’re not busy singing “God Save the Queen”, right?

          1. +1 Canuckistanian.


          2. So ignorant.

            We eat whale blubber.

        2. We’re like The Others from Game of Thrones.

  5. There’s a lot of SoCons out there who would gladly vote libertarian on economic policies and marriage if “drugz fer all” wasn’t such a huge part of the message.
    /just saying

    1. If you took out drugs, then they would gladly vote but for another plank that they don’t like.

    2. That is another reason to hate SoCons.

      Drugs are wonderful, the chemical ones like aspirin, the biotech inventions, the life altering ones like MDMA and even the shady ones like lab coca leaf.

      Conservatives are stuck in the past and always will be.

      1. Conservatives are stuck in the past and always will be.

        As opposed to PB, who is merely stuck someplace in Obama’s sphincter.

    3. There’s a lot of SoCons out there who would gladly vote libertarian on economic policies and marriage if “drugz fer all” wasn’t such a huge part of the message.

      Eh, I dunno. I think SOCONs are capable of being colonized by libertarians (already have been actually; the stats on what evangelicals believed about economic liberty have changed significantly since the 70s), but it’s a bit of a stretch to suppose that a tangential issue like DRUGZZZZ is the only thing keeping a SOCON from hopping on the libertarian train.

      1. It’s drugs, homos, and Jeebus – agin’ the first two, and for the last one.

      2. SoCons, most of them, are merely stubborn, in some cases uninformed, and maybe even ignorant.

        By contrast, a lot of progs are completely fucking insane.

        Where it is possible to actually talk to SoCons and reason with them, whether or not it results in them still believing that the earth is only 6000 years old and that cannabis will send your kids to hell, you can usually actually have a reasonably civil conversation with them about politics.

        Progs on the other hand, well it’s well on display everywhere. They get ‘triggered’ to go insane and that excuses their total disregard for civilized debate in any form.

        1. SoCons, most of them, are merely stubborn, in some cases uninformed, and maybe even ignorant.

          I’d agree with that assessment, though I think the problem is with different philosophical starting points moreso than proggies being “insane” or somesuch.

          1. SoCons, most of them, are merely stubborn, in some cases uninformed, and maybe even ignorant.

            Like any group that has FAITH rather than uses reason (drink), SoCons, religious right, progressives, all have fixed, unshakable beliefs rather than think skeptcially for themselves. It’s a sign of mental laziness. Obama is Example 1.

            1. I’m just talking about my experience, guys, when trying to engage socons or progs in open debate.

              My experience is that although the opinions of socons frustrate me just as much as those of progs, the socons are almost always polite and open with debate, even when you know that they are not going to agree with you right away, you have a sense of hope that you can communicate your message to them.

              With progs, it’s almost always open hostility, a holier than thou attitude, or just a complete shutdown before any debate can even occur.

              This has always been my experience. If anyone else is getting different results, then I would like to hear about it.

            2. Eh, it seems equally lazy to ascribe a lack of rationality to all of one’s opponents, thereby eliminating the need to address their ideas.

              I don’t particularly like or agree with progressive or socialist reasoning, but pretending that it doesn’t exist is just silly.

        2. The so-cons I tend to know are most of all anti-Negro. But that may be just the influence of NYC & environs.

        3. 6,000 yrs., 6 million, or 6 billion?as far as most people are concerned, that’s all the same thing, i.e. realllly olllllddd!

  6. I approve as a classic liberal.

    You mean as a classic ’30s style progressive – tax and spend and bail out the big banks.

    Moen – don’t they make faucets?

    1. Bush was the big bank bailout boy.

      Try again, you got nothing right.

      1. Did I support Bush bailing out the banks? Fuck no! You’ve argued that the guv was making money off Fannie, Freddie, TARP, so they were good moves. You can lie, but you can’t hide.

        1. I’m not hiding.

          TARP was the sign of a sick-ass economy and banks that had no capital.

          It worked in the end. It took Geithner and Bernanke to force the banks to raise extra capital though. Bank of America was insolvent but then diluted at $2.

          Fuck the banks – they are thieves when left alone.

        2. You’re a libertarian, right? Or you wouldn’t be here, amirite?

          You see, Shreek doesn’t know the difference between libertarians and conservatives, socons, neocons, whatever.

          So if you are here, you love Bush and are a drudgebot, Faux News loving, racist because you don’t adore his master, Obama.

          1. Yes.

            Shreek seems to think an attack on Obama’s policies or progressivism is, by definition, support for the elephants.

            Maybe I am naive, but I think there is good in everyone and that everyone can be educated. Even the Plug may come around one day.

  7. This dude’s fallacy is that anything will be changed by “voting”. Good for him, but here’s a tip: the majority is always against the individual. Always.


      1. It’s worked so well in the past, we need to impose da freedom on everyone, or else, DRONEZ!

    2. the majority is always against the individual. Always.

      We got rid of Prohibition. And the draft. Gays are starting to get some marriage privileges, and marijuana is legal, sort of, in a couple of states. All by voting.

      Don’t be so impatient and pessimistic.

      1. We still have federal drug prohibition, politicians still make noises about re-imposing the draft (they won’t, which is good, but the fact that they still talk about it is disturbing), and people are still fighting gay marriage tooth and nail. Sorry if I don’t put any stock in voting. Collectivism of any sort is repulsive.

        1. Collectivism of any sort is repulsive

          The one thing that collectivism is best at, is getting lots of people collectively dead.

          1. We’re much more equal laid down than we ever were standing up.

    3. The Majority is fickle. Anybody who thinks that voting doesn’t matter is an historically illiterate fool. Just compare the course of America and Argentina after 1930.

  8. Nothing wrong with a libertarian running for office if the purpose is to articulate principle. But that is almost never what American Libertarian Party members do. They avoid controversy so they can maximize their vote totals. It is usually enough to allow the party to maintain ballot status. Sort of a political perpetual motion machine controlled by unprincipled opportunists.

    1. “They avoid controversy”

      Which is exactly what the Tea Party did not do which put them on the political map in such a striking fashion which may ultimately prove to be short-lived.

      Libertarian ideology seems to make little sense to the voting masses- no matter how optimistic some of our pundits are. However faulty and messy, the predictable nature of traditional vote placement within the larger establishment offers a measure of security so you can’t really blame LP members for seemingly playing the safe card and essentially getting, well, nowhere in politics.

      Until the LP party can coalesce nationally around an intellectually-sound and strategically-applicable political premise that does not focus so stridently on pure personality (Ron Paul, for example) it will continue to draw excitable fringe political thinkers who are bright, creative, and dedicated but, in my view, largely rudderless due to the individualistic nature of Libertarianism.

      1. largely rudderless due to the individualistic nature of Libertarianism.

        It’s fantastically difficult to organize a bunch of non-joiners.

    2. They avoid controversy so they can maximize their vote totals. It is usually enough to allow the party to maintain ballot status.

      I don’t know how Canada’s system works, but in this country, the two major parties can just say, “Mmm yeah, no ballot access for you”. How we ever got to that place is beyond me. And I’m told getting the government involved in choosing the candidates would fix it.

  9. Canadian Libertarian?

    The only reason you see this as an oxymoron is that you do not know Canadian vs American history.

    The fact is that until the 1960s at the federal level Canada had far less government in the economy than the US did.

    Until the 1960s almost all welfare functions in Canada were at the provincial or municipal level unlike the US which introduced the universal federal Social Security entitlement in the 1930s.

    Likewise, Canada never had a New Deal, the Keynsenism stimulus that the “Progressive Conservative” Bennett government introduced in the early thirties was either quickly reversed by Mackenzie King in keeping with good Liberal policy or declared unconstitutional by the Canadian Supreme Court.

    It was not until Lester Pearson steered the Liberal Party to the left and Pierre Eliot Trudeau pushed the rudder hard over that Canada became the Social Democracy it is now.

    Even so in some ways it is still far easier to start a business in Canada today than it is in the US, For example, You can still go in to business as a General Contractor in Ontario today, while you need to get a license (and pass a bogus “exam”) in all fifty American states.

    1. The fact is that until the 1960s at the federal level Canada had far less government in the economy than the US did.

      My understanding of Canada is that, even with its universal health bureaucracy, the Canadian Federal government is still smaller by percentage than the American one.

      1. The health plans in Canada are run by the provincial or territorial governments. All the Federal govt does is give grants.

        That said the federal govt also lays down the rules about what kind of plans the provinces can have something the US fedgov cannot do to the states.

      2. Also, how big the Canadian fed govt is is kind of a moot point. Canadian provinces levy income taxes are about 40 to 50% of federal income tax (in fact all provinces except Quebec collect ther taxes by having you add a percentage into your federal tax return and RevenueCanada turns that over to your province.

        On top of that a good bit of the provincial spending is for mandates imposed by the Federal Parliament.

        So even though the top bracket at the federal level is only 29% the GST (federal) and provincial income and sales taxes make the tax burden overall pretty damn high.

  10. While you all get to enjoy Independents, I’m listening to my roommate watch Colbert ridicule capitalism while extolling the burgeoning legal pot industry. Bonus jeers for medical drug companies, because… profits! or something.

    1. While Colbert’s entire existence and bank account are based on the effective sale of his product to the American people.

  11. Moen could have added the ultimate fourth leg to the stool:

    And protect their right to not sell marijuana to teabagging christian anti-abortion fundamentalists.

    1. Wouldn’t a more accurate one be to simply add to the end of his existing, “and for fundamentalist christians to not be forced to sell them a wedding cake.”?

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