Free State Project

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Free State Project
Free State Project Logo.svg
Logo of the Free State Project
Motto "Liberty in Our Lifetime"
Formation September 1, 2001
Headquarters 816 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, United States
President
Carla Gericke
Website freestateproject.org
Remarks 17,170 people have pledged (August 19, 2015) [1]

The Free State Project (FSP) is a political migration, founded in 2001, to recruit at least 20,000 libertarians to move to a single low-population state (New Hampshire, selected in 2003) in order to make the state a stronghold for libertarian ideas.[2] The project seeks to overcome the historical ineffectiveness of limited-government activism which they believe was caused by the small number and diffuse population of libertarian activists across the 50 United States and around the world.

Participants sign a statement of intent declaring that they intend to move to New Hampshire within five years of the drive reaching 20,000 participants. This statement of intent is intended to function as a form of assurance contract. As of August 19, 2015, 17,170 people have signed this statement of intent[3] and 1,809 people are listed as "early movers" to New Hampshire on the FSP website, saying they have made their move prior to the 20,000-participant trigger.[4]

People aligned with the Free State Project have been elected to two-year terms in the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2006.[5] Approximately a dozen Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 2012 election,[6] and about 18 in the 2014 election.

The Free State Project is a social movement generally based upon decentralized decision making. The group hosts various events, but most of FSP's activities depend upon volunteers, and no formal plan dictates to participants or movers what their actions should be in New Hampshire.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Free State Project was founded in 2001 by Jason Sorens, then a Ph.D. student at Yale University.[7] Sorens published an article in The Libertarian Enterprise highlighting the failure of libertarians to elect any candidate to federal office and outlining his ideas for a secessionist movement, calling people to respond to him with interest.[8] Sorens has stated that the movement continues an American tradition of political migration, which includes groups such as Mormon settlers in Utah, and Amish religious communities,[9] as well as "Jamestown Seventy",[10] an earlier effort to influence the politics of a particular state through deliberate migration.[11]

The flag of the Free State Project, a modified Gadsden flag

The organization began without a specific state in mind. A systematic review started by narrowing potential states to those with a population of less than 1.5 million, and those where the combined spending in 2000 by the Democratic and Republican parties was less than $5.2 million, the total national spending by the Libertarian Party in that year. Hawaii and Rhode Island were eliminated from this list because of their propensity for centralized government.[12]

State selection[edit]

In September 2003 the state vote was held. Participants voted using the Condorcet method to choose the state.[13] New Hampshire was the winner, with Wyoming coming in second by a 57% to 43% margin.[13] Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont were also on the list.[9]

New Hampshire was chosen because the perceived individualist culture of the state was thought to resonate well with libertarian ideals.[14] The Free State Project, however, has drawn criticism from some New Hampshire residents concerned about population pressure and opposition to increased taxation. Some Republicans,[15] on the other hand, have responded more favorably to the project, because of their espoused agreement on small government.

Intent[edit]

The FSP mission statement, adopted in 2005, states:

The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.[16]

"Life, liberty, and property" are rights that were enumerated in the October 1774 Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress[17] and in Article 12 of the New Hampshire state constitution.[18]

To become a participant of the Free State Project, a person is asked to agree to the Statement of Intent (SOI):

I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the State of New Hampshire within 5 years after 20,000 Participants have signed up. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of individuals' life, liberty, and property.

Eligibility[edit]

The FSP is open to people with a minimum age of 18. U.S. citizenship is not required. People who promote violence, racial hatred, or bigotry are not welcome in the FSP.[19]

Recent events[edit]

In December 2012, state representative Cynthia Chase (D-Keene) said "Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today. There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal. In this country you can move anywhere you choose and they have that same right. What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the “freedoms” that they think they will find here."[20]

In 2012, the Concord Police Department applied for $258,000 in federal government funding to buy a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle for protection against terrorist attacks, riots, or shooting incidents. The application said, "Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges." The grant from the US Department of Homeland Security was successful and the Concord City Council unanimously approved of the grant, after having revised the application to remove references to those political movements.[21]

In September 2014, Republican Party Senate nominee Scott Brown, a former United States Senator from Massachusetts, said his election campaign needed "Freestaters" to support him in his one-minute closing statement at the Granite State Debate.[22]

Political positions[edit]

The Free State Project aligns itself with no political party, takes no official political positions, supports no candidates in elections, and neither supports nor opposes any particular legislation.[23]

The Free State Project receives its funding from individual donors interested in moving as part of the FSP or attending one of the annual events.[24][25]

Several early movers have been elected to the New Hampshire legislature. In 2006 one of its participants, Joel Winters, was elected to the state legislature, running as a Democrat.[14] He was re-elected in 2008 but defeated in 2010.[26] In 2010, 12 Republican Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.[5]

On December 5, 2012, Free Stater and self-described anarchist Tim O'Flaherty was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives under the Democratic Party ticket, representing Manchester Ward 5.[27] He was defeated for re-election in 2014.

In 2012, elected participants wrote and passed House Bill 418 which requires state agencies to consider open source software and data formats when making acquisitions.[28]

Annual events[edit]

The Free State Project is the official organizer of two annual events in New Hampshire:

  • The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is a convention-style event with a wide variety of speakers, dinners and events.
  • The Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest)[29][30] is a weeklong summer festival that takes place at a campground; it is "like Woodstock for rational people", says Roderick Long.[31][32][33]

New Hampshire House of Representatives[edit]

In 2006, Democrat Joel Winters became the first known free stater to become elected to the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives.[14] In 2010, 12 Free Staters were elected.[5] In 2012, eleven were elected.[27] In 2014, at least 18 were elected.[34][35]

Currently elected free staters[edit]

Formerly elected free staters[edit]

2012
  • Cal Pratt (R-Goffstown): the district of Hillsborough-6
  • Tim O'Flaherty (D-Manchester): the district of Hillsborough-12
  • Emily Sandblade (R-Manchester): the district of Hillsborough-18
  • Joel Winters (D-Manchester): the district of Hillsborough-18
  • Michael Garcia (D-Nashua): the district of Hillsborough-34
  • Mark Warden (R-Goffstown): the district of Hillsborough-39
2010
  • Jenn Coffey (R-): represented the district of Merrimack-6 until she lost re-election in 2012[36]

Responses[edit]

On February 17, 2006, economist Walter Block publicly expressed his support for the FSP. He is quoted as saying,

You people are doing the Lord's work. The FSP is one of the freshest practical ideas for promoting liberty that has come out of the libertarian movement in the past few decades. May you succeed beyond your wildest dreams, and thus demonstrate in yet another empirical way the benefits and blessings of liberty.[37]

Jeffrey Tucker reflected about his experiences at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum in Nashua, saying in part, "If you are willing to look past mainstream media coverage of American politics, you can actually find exciting and interesting activities taking place that rise above lobbying, voting, graft and corruption."[38]

The project has been endorsed by Ron Paul[39] and Gary Johnson.[40]

In 2010, Lew Rockwell from the Mises Institute endorsed the project. He referred to the city of Keene, New Hampshire as "The northern capital of libertarianism".[41]

In 2011, Peter Schiff said he had considered moving at one point.[42]

Critics argue that the Free State Project is "radical",[43] a "fantasy",[44] or that they "go too far" in seeking to restrict government.[45]

The Free State Project was the centerpiece of the 2011 documentary film Libertopia,[46] as well as the 2014 crowdfunded documentary, 101 Reasons: Liberty Lives in New Hampshire.[47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Participant Statistics". freestateproject.org. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Belluck, Pam (October 27, 2003). "Libertarians Pursue New Political Goal: State of Their Own". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Membership Statistics". Free State Project. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Free State Project: What happens if 20,000 libertarians move to New Hampshire?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "For Some Ron Paul Backers, a New Motto: Go East, Young Man (and Woman)". NationalJournal.com. May 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Berry, Jake (February 24, 2013). "Free State project says future is encouraging". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ Larry Clow (October 5, 2005). "The Free State turns two". The Wire. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ Sorens, Jason (July 23, 2001). "Announcement: The Free State Project". The Libertarian Enterprise 131. 
  9. ^ a b Joanna Walters (October 1, 2003). "Free staters pick New Hampshire to liberate for sex, guns and drugs". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Blumstein, James F.; Phelan, James (1971). "Jamestown Seventy". Yale Review of Law and Social Action 1 (1). 
  11. ^ Sorens, Jason (August 6, 2001). "Update: Free State Project". The Libertarian Enterprise 132. 
  12. ^ Joseph Spear, "An Experiment in Civic Engagement: The Free State Project", Oklahoma Policy Studies Review, Vol. 5, No. 1.
  13. ^ a b Pete Camp, "Free State Project Picks New Hampshire", Up & Coming Magazine, October 8, 2003.
  14. ^ a b c Sarah Schweitzer (November 16, 2006). "Free State Project cheers on one of its own in Winters". The Boston Globe. 
  15. ^ Meredith Goldstein, "Free State Project pushes limits of liberty in N.H.", Boston Globe, October 19, 2003.
  16. ^ Mission Statement from the Free State Project website
  17. ^ "Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress". Avalon Project. Yale Law School. October 14, 1774. Retrieved 2010-11-11. That the inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following RIGHTS: Resolved, N.C.D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent. 
  18. ^ "NH.gov - The Official Web Site of New Hampshire State Government - State Constitution, Bill of Rights". nh.gov. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  19. ^ FSP Standard Disclaimer
  20. ^ "New Hampshire Democrat: 'Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today'". Reason.com. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  21. ^ Wickham, Shawne K. (July 27, 2013). "Civil Liberties Union questions increasing use of costly military-style equipment by NH law enforcement". Union Leader (Manchester, New Hampshire). 
  22. ^ "Granite State Debate, U.S. Senate: Candidates deliver closing statements". 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  23. ^ Introduction to the Free State Project Archived June 19, 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Total income donations, FSPFY2008Actuals.pdf
  25. ^ Total income donations FSPFY2009Actuals.pdf
  26. ^ List of Nov. 2010 winners
  27. ^ a b Hayward, Mark (November 14, 2012). "Anarchy in Ward 5? Well, not exactly". Manchester Union Leader. 
  28. ^ "New Hampshire Passes 'Open Source Bill' - Slashdot". slashdot.org. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  29. ^ "PorcFest". PorcFest. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  30. ^ "Porcupine Freedom Festival". freestateproject.org. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  31. ^ "Way Long Gone, Part 2". aaeblog.com. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  32. ^ "Way Long Gone, Part 3". aaeblog.com. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  33. ^ Murphy, Robert P. "PorcFest 2011". Ludwig von Mises Institute. Retrieved July 7, 2014. 
  34. ^ New Hampshire House of Representatives elections, 2014, Ballotpedia
  35. ^ Free State Project Watch: Candidate List 2014, Free State Project Watch
  36. ^ "Coffey - Granite State Progress". granitestateprogress.org. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  37. ^ Walter Block's endorsement of the Free State Project. FreeStateProject.org. 17 February 2006.
  38. ^ "Political Migration in Our Time". Archived from the original on March 10, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Ron Paul Supports the Free State Project". 
  40. ^ "Gary Johnson Endorses the FSP". 
  41. ^ "Lew Rockwell Applauds the Free State Project". 
  42. ^ "Peter Schiff (Euro Pacific Capital Inc.)". 
  43. ^ "The Radical-Right Free State Project Has Chosen New Hampshire For A Revolution". Thinkprogress.org. April 13, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  44. ^ Steve Trinward. "The Free State Project: good idea or libertopian fantasy?". Rational Review. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  45. ^ "LTE: Free Staters go too far". Concord Monitor. June 28, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Libertopia". FilmBuff. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  47. ^ "101 Reasons: Liberty Lives in New Hampshire". Retrieved 16 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°59′23″N 71°27′48″W / 42.9897°N 71.4634°W / 42.9897; -71.4634