Skip to comments.Freedom, ho!
Posted on 09/15/2003 9:58:35 AM PDT by archy
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Copyright © Las Vegas Mercury
Libertarians prepare to haul ass for a guv'ment-free clime
By Larry Wills
Like the Mormons of the 19th century pushing their carts along the Platte River, as many as 100 disgruntled Nevadans soon may be driving their U-Hauls out of town, singing "I'll Fly Away."
They are among 5,000 Libertarians nationwide who are searching for the state with the most freedom and the least government. Just where that'll be--New Hampshire, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska are in the running--depends on the outcome of the members' vote Oct. 1
"It's quite thrilling to be part of this," says Debra Ricketts, national treasurer of the Free State Project. "This is unusual."
She and her husband, Torry, are methodically making preparations to move from Las Vegas. "There definitely are some economic considerations," she says. "We are even asking people to pay off their debts and get their financial houses in order. There's a lot of talk about career changes."
Debra and Torry aren't going to rush their move. They'll wait until their teenage children graduate from high school. "We're looking at a seven-year time frame." Others could move as early as this year.
She says the number of Nevadans joining the Free State Project was boosted by the record tax increases approved this past legislative session. "We have more and more conservatives who can't justify supporting this," she says. "We see a lot of those people coming in."
The top-ranked states have small populations with lots of unofficial Libertarians, she says, and with the influx of immigrants, the anti-government sentiment will only get stronger. "Population is an important factor," says Ricketts. "Most states considered already have an atmosphere of live and let live. Montana is wonderful."
But Nevada, the supposed cradle of rugged individualism, is not. The population is too large and the Libertarian Party is in shambles, which is also spurring the exodus.
Party candidates do miserably in Nevada elections. With 5,000 members statewide, fewer than 2 percent of voters choose Libertarian candidates. Even in Nye County, a hotbed of free-thinkers, the Libertarian turnout was 2.15 percent in the last election. Brendan Trainor, the party candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, drew 1.68 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Jim Gibbons.
In Elko, another supposed hotbed, the Libertarian Party has ceased to exist. "The party disbanded up here due to poor leadership," resident Lana Noland says. "But individually, people have signed up for the Free State Project."
The poor performance of the national party forced Elizabeth McKinstry, vice president of the Free State Project in Detroit, to call the exodus an indictment. "We believe the Libertarian Party has done a lousy job of educating the public," she says. "We're trying to get the message out that liberty isn't scary. It's good for everyone."
James Dan, unsuccessful Nevada Assembly candidate in the last two elections, has given up on the party and understands the desire to move elsewhere. "After 12 years, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that it's a lost cause," Dan says. "They don't have the competence needed to run a political organization. The party attracts people who are anarchists at heart. They cannot follow orders or work as a team." For example, backing the legalization of drugs attracts users, who, Dan says, are not reliable party workers. "We need to believe in the principles the Libertarian Party espouses," he says. "It's sad. The party has a lot of good ideas." Dan's now looking at the Free State Project. "My wife and I sent in the paperwork," he says.
But the great Libertarian march hasn't deterred Joe Silvestri, Clark County Libertarian Party chairman, from trying to rebuild the organization. He concedes that things were a mess when he first joined the party. "Two and a half years ago, there was a lot of infighting," says Silvestri. "Now we're slowly working at rebuilding the party membership."
And he believes many Nevadans will vote for the party once the word gets out. "There are a lot of people who are philosophically Libertarian but are not prepared to join the party," he says. "Most Nevadans have a Libertarian streak even when they don't know what it is."
As for Republican and Democratic politics: "It's an elitism: I should have the power to mother you," he says. "Folks have given up on big parties--socialism and socialism light."
Silvestri's epiphany came five years ago, far from Nevada. The Long Island, N.Y., native read the book Why Government Doesn't Work, by Harry Browne, which details the rise of regulation and the decline of freedoms over the past century.
"Everybody has a right to live as they wish," Silvestri insists. He advocates dismantling regulating agencies, privatizing public lands and ending overseas provocations. He wants business to be left alone to compete. He also believes entitlement programs, such as Medicare, should be gradually phased out. Other regulations irritate him, such as the motorcycle helmet law. "I'm a firm believer in wearing a helmet, but I'm against being told to wear one," Silvestri says.
Silvestri, a Clark County schoolteacher, is particularly hard on public education. "Our school system is an utter disaster," he says. "We have illiterate graduates." He believes administrators stifle education. "In public schools there is a loss of innovation and creativity. Teachers teach in fear. I would be content with gradually backing the government off education, keeping elementary schools, but no longer secondary and college education. Let's do it for a generation. They [children] should go to charity schools, church schools and apprentice schools. End compulsory education. If they don't have schools, tell them to get jobs."
Michael Bowers, a UNLV political science professor, believes inflexible thinking may be the Libertarians' undoing. "The true believers are unwilling to compromise," Bowers says. "If you're Democrat or Republican, you have to compromise. Those are big tents. They are willing to compromise to win elections, not just win points."
Bowers also sees big parties stealing third party thunder. "Major parties tend to absorb third party issues," he says. "One reason they haven't done too well is that much of their platform has been taken by major parties."
But the nature of the Libertarian mentality doesn't bode well for the party's future success. "We are the liberty people," Silvestri says. "Getting Libertarians together is like trying to herd cats."
But don't tell that to U-Haul drivers in search of a freer land. You can almost hear the screaming kids dragging their toys while Mom and Dad pile furniture on the truck. Then a hundred engines kick over and it's off to Blue Dome, Idaho, Ten Sleep, Wyo., or Two Dot, Mont.
"It's something whose time has come," Ricketts says.
The Free State will succeed by a coalition of like minded people. Having left the old world for a new land based on a common governing philosophy will be the binding agent. Depending on the state they could work in or with the Republicans or a 3rd party. Too early to tell which course it will be.
Freedom, ho, according to the article. But I've heard the same term applied to wagons.
That commonality of purpose on some issues will likely serve the Porcupines particularly well in the initial stages of the relocation, during this coming election and the following one in particular- it won't be for at least 8 years, two election cysles, that the real FSP impact will be felt. But in that time, Porcupines who've been long-term residents in the FSP's goal state and the *first wave* relocated there will begin testing the waters of potential coalition and common cause.
Likewise, I expect stonewalling from some unyielding RINO *Stalinists* who'd prefer to lose rather than forge any sort of alliance with any sort of l/Libertarians, and they may well be the first targets for Porcupine Party alternate candidates...or a *none of the above* ballot initiative.
But note that Porcupine Boston T.Party has theorized something fictional along those lines taking place in Wyoming:
"This is the weirdest damn thing I've ever seen. How 'bout you?"
"Oh, by far! Hey! Guess what their voter registration is?"
"All of them?"
"Yep. Every last adult. No Democrats. No Libertarians. No Natural Law. No Independents."
"Whaddaya bet same thing's goin' on in those other counties?"
Libetarian vision of the future?
FSP publicist Mary Lou Seymour is an organizer for The Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith for President; if he's not a pledged Porcupine- I think it would have been shouted from the rooftops- I at least bet he's sympathetic to the goals and methods, if maybe dubious about what can be realisticly accomplished, and at what cost.>p> Likewise Aaron Zelman is a particularly pragmatic sort of fellow, and like a good pragmatist he too is probably waiting for real results and achievement of at least some success from the FSP before hitching any of his wagons to our star, but I do expect he's waiting hopefully.
L. Neil is hardly the only Libertarian candidate I'd like to support from our new home, or have come join us, pledged porkypine or not. But I expect there are already some there who may find the new increase in numbers helpful to their own efforts, and all sorts of interesting folks may be turning up, too.
And I hope some of the others who for many good reasons don't want to remove themselves from their homes of many years will at least come by to visit, and stick around for some of the strategy sessions and conferences in our future. Somebody with a large hotel or convention center is going to be real happy about the new residents....
Almost certainly we will attract some such; there've already been a few problems along those lines. I'll settle for their number being a statistical blip among the overall outlook, and that some of those whose motives might be less than pure will grow as they're exposed to the example of their neighbors and leaders.
How much of the current rot in US society is due to those who've followed the example set by our corrupted political, military and public leadership? The previous decade does not have a great deal to reccomend itself in that respect, so perhaps this experiment at a state level can offer some interesting results in that respect.
I've noticed the personality types right here on this forum. Stalinist is a very good description of this mentality too. Once a poster who has a life's mission of being a slanderous detractor on certain types of threads got bent when I finally suggested they acted like a Soviet political commissar. A few others chimmed in to their defense. But being slanderous commissars in their own right this counter attack came as no surprise and carried no weight. One has to wonder why "the group" is so vital to some that there is no concern for results - even when the results are detrimental to one's supposed principles.
I only posted on one of those threads and haven't had the time to read them all as well as other areas of more concern to me but from what I've seen of them they can get heated. Then there's the WOD threads, the libertarian threads, the anti-neocon threads, the war threads - it all is healthy in one way - hashing out the differences but some people fanatically police this site searching out dissenters on their pet cause and attack, attack, attack. This runs from juvenile to down right mean to deliberate disinformation. Not sure what motivates this type but they are impervious to reason and exhibit the same mentality as commissars. A perfect fit for a totalitarian state but dangerous to a free society.
Nice thing about the libertarian approach to governing is that when the government is not involved there is a lot less for people to be at odds over. The commissars will be reduced to harmless local cranks. Free State Project bump!
Maybe that's their whole problem. Control freaks hate to lose power...