While I stand firm on the long term plan of the Libertarian party, an abrupt change would create chaos. Such chaos that the public would not stay with it for more than 1 term. Hypothetically if the Libertarian party reached a majority, what would the 4 year plan be?
Tim Moen's Response:
This is a great question and one that I’ve thought about a lot over the last decade. I remember when Stefan Molyneux refused to back Ron Paul in part because he surmised that the economy was too far gone, the entitlements and debt were not payable and that when the economy tanked all that Americans would remember would be that a libertarian was at the wheel when the Titanic sunk. It’s a fair point. His larger point was that politics wasn’t going to shift culture and that only a cultural shift would lead to a sustained smaller government so don’t put your efforts into playing politics.
Stefan has since had a change of heart and has backed Trump but I still subscribe to old Stefan and his insistence that political change can only come from cultural change. So I think conventional politics is a naïve game. I use the political stage not to win votes but to connect people to the ideas of liberty that have built the west and led to the greatest flourishing in history. I happily trade votes to promote ideas that are unpopular and need to be popularized if we have any hope of a restrained small government. Change can only come from the fringe not from the status quo.
Almost any strategy to get elected requires reflecting and amplifying culture and so if your goal is a more restrained government then it is antithetical to try and get elected. So my goal isn’t to get elected, my goal is a more restrained government. I want a culture which demands liberty to the point where every mainstream politician trying to get elected has to adopt a libertarian platform. We need to keep moving the Overton window.
The PPC is evidence of our success. We are largely responsible for creating a wave of liberty lovers that Max can surf. Max is still focused on conventional success unfortunately. He is fairly libertarian and has a leadership team of largely pragmatic libertarians and they are employing a pragmatic strategy of appealing to people who don’t feel like there is a voice for them. Namely he is speaking for disenfranchised populists who don’t really care about free markets or limited government they just want the state to protect their culture. So he is now going to have a hard time promoting free trade or automation to people who think that these are globalist policies. As he gains more conventional success and eventually becomes THE conservative party his platform is going to have to become more and more centrist to avoid losing support. So conventional politics as a strategy is bound to lead to status quo policies.
So if we are successful it won’t matter which party is voted in the platform will be have to be libertarian. Forming a majority libertarian government in a statist culture would only be possible if we fool people into thinking we are statists by promoting statist policies or if people hate every other party so much that they give us the vote. In this unlikely event we would be hamstrung. You can’t legislate against culture, its pretty much impossible. The tiny bit we’d be able to achieve would be undone as soon as we lost power.
Now lets imagine we were successful in shifting Canadian culture to one that demanded liberty from its politicians and that wanted us to shrink government down to a night watchman state that repealed almost all taxes and spending and limited itself to police, military and courts. Then we would want to try and smoothly transition to this and the time line and plan would largely depend on the state of our economy.
Scenario 1: People only come to their senses and embrace the principles of liberty because the state has created so much chaos and hardship that Canada is a chaotic disaster. In this case the transition is quick. We cut taxes immediately and legalize the provision of services that the government is supposed to provide right now so that private individuals can provide these services (ie roads, healthcare, private cities etc). We move towards a constitutional reform that puts government in chains so it can’t grow so large and chaotic in the future.
Scenario 2: There is no economic disaster, the economy is relatively stable but people embrace the principles of liberty anyways and demand we shrink the state. In this case we recognize that there are many people who have built up dependency on the state and we implement a slow staged approach to limiting the state. The first step would be to legalize the provision of services that the government provides that people are dependant on. Eliminate legal barriers to the provision of healthcare for example so that a private market place can start flourishing while we still have a public system that looks after the most dependant. We would also try and strike deals with as many cities as possible to create economic free zones similar to Hong Kong or Singapore or maybe set aside some federal land for economic free zones for people to build communities that use alternate rules of governance (similar to what places like Honduras are attempting to do). We may consider opening up crown land for development and grant each citizen title to a certain amount of land. The idea behind this approach would be to wean people off of the state by allowing market solutions to generate very quickly and improve access and abundance of all those things that the state bottlenecks and makes scarce through central planning. Or put another way we want to supercharge the market in such a way that the state becomes obsolete.
Those would be my preferred approaches although they could be wrong. I’ve read convincing articles by Rothbard and others that say that ripping off the Band-Aid quickly is the best way to go.
The bottom line is that we have a long way to go before we are at a point where we need to worry about forming government. Canadians are getting more frightened of the climate, terrorists, robots, immigrants, the liberals, the conservatives etc by the day. With fear comes a growing state. So we need to keep the pedal down and have an uncompromising message. Once enough people see things our way we can start to talk about how we manage to shrink the state in a way that doesn’t create too much discomfort*.
Hope that answers your question. I’m happy to take more questions or hear a different approach.
*Note: I am hesitant to use the word chaos to describe anything other than what the state imposes, but I get your meaning. Many people who are getting free stuff and benefits would be wailing and gnashing their teeth as we stop government spending and the media would paint a very bleak picture. There is no getting around this. I wouldn’t describe this as chaos, it’s more like an addict no longer able to get their fix and losing their mind.