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."
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: