Skip to comments.Thinking small, Free State Project hopes for big things
Posted on 09/24/2003 12:15:27 PM PDT by archy
Thinking small, Free State Project hopes for big things
By Kenric Ward
Press Journal opinion page editor
September 22, 2003
On Thursday, a group called the Free State Project begins its countdown to freedom. That's when balloting closes for selection of a "free state."
Over the past year, the libertarian-minded organization has been gathering members, mainly in cyberspace, with a goal of designating a single state as a new home. Not since the Mormons' transcontinental migration of the late 1840s has there been such a large, organized effort to move an entire group of Americans to one location.
But Utah is not one of the 10 states in the running for a libertarian-style invasion. And, relax, neither is Florida. That's because size matters most, and the smaller the better. Free Staters have winnowed the field by targeting states with a maximum population of 1.3 million so their group can leverage an immediate electoral impact.
Some small states, such as Rhode Island and Hawaii, were axed early for their leftist leanings or federal control. Yet Free State leadership eschews any partisan litmus test other than its motto, "Liberty in our lifetime."
"The Free State Project is a coalition among libertarians, classical liberals and constitutionalists," explains Jason Sorens, the group's founder and president. He believes that anyone living outside strict Republican or Democratic Party orthodoxy can fit into this new "third way."
Sorens, a Texas native and doctoral student at Yale University, says the focus is on "states where the FSP would have a chance of winning majorities in the state legislature and the governorship."
To calibrate those chances, Free State volunteers fanned out across the country to analyze the top 10 prospects. Here's their alphabetical ballot of finalists, with a few of the strong points (you can fill in the downsides, starting with the weather):
Alaska Lowest tax burden, loosest gun-control laws, more oil and gas than any other state except Texas.
Delaware Smallest area, key port access, proximity to larger population centers.
Idaho Fewest trial lawyers per capita, ranks first in the nation on Clemson University's "Economic Freedom" index, based on low welfare and public aid payments.
Maine Most politically independent state (Ross Perot came in second here in 1992).
Montana Bordered by four other Free State candidates, several libertarian Republicans in Legislature.
New Hampshire No income or sales taxes, lowest dependence on federal dollars, highest number of elected Libertarians.
North Dakota Liberal initiative, referendum and recall laws, Legislature controlled by conservatives who are cutting state government.
South Dakota Both Democratic senators vulnerable, among lowest tax and crime rates.
Vermont Proximity to jobs, well-educated citizenry, environmentally aware.
Wyoming Fewest number of voters, elects the most conservative/libertarian candidates (including libertarian Democrats).
Tim Condon, a Tampa attorney and director of member services for the Free State Project, calls himself a "glass eater" who will go anywhere members decide. As a project leader, he won't divulge his personal preferences, though he acknowledges that Alaska is his least favorite destination.
"I'm hearing a lot about Montana, Wyoming and New Hampshire," he says of his colleagues in Florida. The Sunshine State, by the way, has the second most Free State members, behind California.
Condon, a self-professed "native cracker" who describes himself as "right" on fiscal issues and "left" on social matters, sees a geographic and attitudinal split among Free Staters.
"The Western mindset is to just be left alone. Sort of an open-sky mentality. The Eastern attitude is more cerebral and academically oriented."
That melange shatters the stereotype of a gun-toting, black-helicopter crowd. While drawing heavily (though unofficially) from Libertarian Party ranks, many Free Staters, like Condon, hue closer to the Green Party on several issues.
Irene Davis, a former Titusville city councilwoman, is a prototypical Free State "porcupine" with her prickly political proclivities. She got into hot water when she opened a council meeting with a Wiccan invocation and resigned in a dispute over tax issues.
Her pick for a free state? Delaware, for its favorable business climate, as well as its comparatively benign weather.
The Free State Project expects to announce the results of its election Oct. 1. But the official call to move won't come until five years after the group reaches 20,000 members. With nearly 6,000 currently on the rolls, and limited media exposure thus far, Condon expects that the migration could begin around 2010.
Will it be history in the making, or just another utopian dream gone bust? You can find out more by logging onto (www.freestateproject.org).
That would be a more appropriate headline to this continuing silliness. Even if this "project" could manage to move the whole 20K folks into a state like Wyoming, it would make no difference to the outcome of statewide elections. Not a bit of difference.
No disrespect intended, but I think that it is you who are thinking small. 20,000 people, each change another's mind on an issue concerning freedom, thats 40k. You tell a politician that you have 20,000 people waiting to vote against them if he does/doesnt do X, you can grab him by the er, horns. You ever play poker? This would be called bluffing (or not) from the first position. Also, if even half of the 20k actually got ACTIVE in campaigning, the result could be huge. Very myopic, IMO, MM...JFK
And there are a lot of like-minded folks right next door in Colorado who wouldn't mind moving one state to the north.
I live in New York, where nearly every vote I've ever cast has been useless. It sure would be nice to make my vote count for once. Once chosen, a Free State might mean a lot to a lot of people who don't FReep, aren't interviewed, but who would embrace the opportunity to make a change.
It's important to choose soon, so as to give people time to move. And it's important to choose two states so folks can be a drive away from their hometowns.
I don't know about Delaware, though. Isn't there a lot of crime there compared to Vermont or New Hampshire?
It seems we're on the same wavelength about how a joint should be set up. If I'm going to move west then I'll be missing the culture of the east coast so I'll have to make some of my own. A college town would be an ideal location for what I'm thinking. The first thought was along the lines of a Viennese coffee house where artists and intellectuals could hang out. A place where liquor is served but it is not a bar in the traditional sense. Then I got to thinking to expand it to fill multiple functions. I figure a split with a bar and "reading room" decorated with liberty themes and 1984 posters and such. Then there would be an adjoining seated dining room where musicians can play blues, folk, jazz, etc. College kids might be good for fairly talented but cheap entertainment along these lines. This room would also double as an art gallery. As for the food I don't want to hire a chef so I thought gourmet sandwiches and light Mexican stuff like nachos and burritos, etc. could be served as well as some fancy deserts. My brother is sick of Florida so I figure I could get him to operate the place on a daily basis which would free me to do my artwork and conduct my other businesses and ventures.
Hopefully a project I'm currently working on will pay off enough so I can open this cafe as well as build a house I designed for myself. One of the draw backs to building has been I never knew where to build it. I knew it wouldn't be here in Jersey but didn't know where to settle. The FSP will fix that problem.
I also suspect that you'll have a goodly number of Porcupines who miss such venues from their old surroundings, as well as the locals who find the idea a welcome change and breath of fresh air. Whether the numbers of regulars will be enough for your success is of course a crapshoot, but not an unreasonable one.
If it wasn't for the FSP project location requirement, I know of a great little place that needs a good guiding touch, and it sounds like what you have in mind would be just about right.
That's why I feel a college town would be the best location - more locals hip to the concept. I sort of doubt the place would work out in ranch country. It just wouldn't be a typical cowboy sort of joint.
Did I understand you correctly that the big annoucement will be carried live on the internet?
Did I understand you correctly that the big annoucement will be carried live on the internet?
A lot of those cowboys might surprise you. But that's counting chickens before they hatch, and New Hampsterland may well be the final choice.
The announcement is to be made at 11:00 AM New York time. I understand Fox News will be there, and Porcupines have never been shy about getting their news netposted.
I should have it posted here by around 11:03 NYC time, unless someone beats me to it. Dewey defeats Truman!
You think NH could pull it off, eh? That was my first choice but now I've gone and talk myself into loving Wyoming. If NH wins I'll have to adjust all over again.
I think good and dedicated people can pull it off in either location, probably in most of them. I think the results will come a little sooner in Wyoming, there being more like-minded folks already resident there. I expect we could get larger numbers in New Hampshire, eventually, but that the darkside forces can easily draw from their neighboring allies nearby too. Neither do I think Montana is at all unworkable; it's got a couple of advantages that the two forerunners lack.
But check these sites out, and see if you don't find yourself real satisfied with the idea of it being Wyoming:
I first heard Sibelius' Finlandia played in a German army tank repair workshop. Real fun bunch. I enjoyed the recordings so much, I went to hear the music performed live by the Munich Philharmonic, and found I'd acquired some new tastes.
You might have expected Wagner from the Kraut tankers, maybe even Bach. Probably not Khachaturian or Mussorgsky....
But why not? After all, their marching song was composed by Lieutenant Kurt Weill.
Well, in less than 12 hours, we'll find out. See you in the Free State- and there may be more than one come about....
By all means invite your pals from NJ to join us here into preplanning our future adventures, and your VT/NH inclined friend is welcome too, or we can easily enough point him toward those already resident there.