Update on Free State Project by Cort McCadden
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Give Me Liberty
Volume 1/Issue No. 4 May 2003
In This Issue:
“The Free State Project”
by Jason Sorens
Welcome to Give Me Liberty! We are thrilled to have you reading our
liberty-oriented news ezine that hopefully will become one of your
favorite monthly reads. For this issue, we are pleased to welcome
the founder of the Free State Project that we have been hearing so much
about. Jason Sorens shares with us his dream for the beginning of
successfully making at least one state in the United States a model of
We are especially interested in having your input and feedback since
this is YOUR ezine. We want to know what you want to see in future
issues. We are going to be working on a web site in the future at
http://www.givemelibertynow.com and at that time we will be moving the ezine
Finally we ask you to spread the word about Give Me Liberty! If each of
you would invite just five others to subscribe then we could begin to
grow this ezine into the thousands very rapidly. Just ask them to send
an email to email@example.com !
PS. As this was going to press I had one of my wake up in the middle of
the night AHAs that I would like to share with you.
As any effort been made to start a Libertarian directed cable TV
CHANNEL? Not a program but a full-fledged channel? Just like the Sci-Fi
or History Channel.
If not, why not? Money?
Isn’t it my understanding that VERY wealthy Libertarians like Drew Carey
and Kurt Russell tout their libertarianism? So why not get them to put
their money where their mouth is? I’m sure there are more WEALTHY
Libertarians that could throw in a few bucks. Why not approach Clint
Eastwood, Tom Selleck and others that lean toward Libertarianism?
Libertarians also are not going to have LIMITING advertising guidelines!
There just might be some companies that would love to have an
opportunity to spread their message to the Libertarian leaning audience.
Every one keeps whining and pining over how few people are Libertarians!
Where do most people look for their news? The Net and TV! What if we
could hire away John Stossels to head the News operation? I’m sure that
he knows other reporters that would lean that way.
As always I’m ready to lead the Revolution! Your thoughts?
The Free State Project: An Opportunity for Action
By Jason Sorens
The success of the Free State Project (www.freestateproject.org) will
advance the cause of liberty by decades.
Premise 1: Activists make for successful politics.
Premise 2: Winning candidates for high-level office usually have
substantial low-level political experience, especially if they are not
Premise 3: Electing libertarian candidates will lead to more libertarian
Key Point 1
The Libertarian Party has been growing, but its growth is currently too
slow to achieve “liberty in our lifetime.”
Libertarian Party vote in U.S. House of Representatives races stood at
0.2% nationally in 1986 but has grown since then, to 1.7% in 2002. The
last decline in LP House vote was in 1994, when LP vote stood at 0.6%.
So over the last eight years LP vote has increased 1.1% nationwide.
Most of this growth has come through running more candidates, but some
of it has come from running better candidates. If we assume that the
Libertarian Party is able to continue this growth at the same rate, by
running still more candidates and then improving per-candidate vote
share, then LP vote should increase 1.1% every eight years. At that
rate, we would reach 35% nationally, the level at which we would have a
good shot at winning many three-way races, in the year 2242. We don’t
even know if the United States will still exist in 2242, but we do know
that we won’t. Therefore, our growth, while slightly encouraging, is
still grossly unsatisfactory.
Key Point 2
Concentrating our activists would increase the impact of libertarian
How many libertarian activists are there in the country? If we count
all pro-liberty talk show hosts, writers, professors, policy analysts,
the 27,000 dues-paying members of the Libertarian Party, members of the
Republican Liberty Caucus, contributors to the Club for Growth, and all
(small-l) libertarian activists within and without all political parties
in America, there might be 100,000 libertarian activists in this
country. That’s an optimistic figure, but let’s work with it. In a
population of roughly 300 million, that means that 1 in 3,000 Americans
is a libertarian activist.
Now imagine that we take 20,000 libertarian activists and set them down
in a state of about 1 million population. In this state, about 1 in
every 50 residents would be a libertarian activist. That’s an increase
in impact of 60 times. And in almost any state you care to name, that
would be greater than the number of activists for all other political
parties and ideological groups put together.
This is exactly what the Free State Project is trying to accomplish. We
are researching ten states, all with less than 1.5 million people, as
places for libertarians to settle and live. Some of the states are
barely half a million in population. These are the 10 states: Alaska,
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, New
Hampshire, Maine, and Delaware. We are circulating a Statement of
Intent among libertarians across the country, both on our website
(freestateproject.org) and at meetings. By signing the Statement of
Intent, you agree to move to a single state chosen by a membership vote,
and work toward a society in which government’s maximum role is the
protection of life, liberty, and property. You can opt out of any or
several of the states under consideration if you choose. Once we reach
5,000 commitments, we will hold a vote among all signers to determine
one state out of the 10 to which we will all move. Currently, we have
over 3,300 signers.
Don’t think we can reach the goal of 20,000? No problem. If you sign
up and we don’t reach 20,000, you won’t be obligated to move, so there’s
no risk there. We actually picked the number 20,000 in the first place,
though, because we think we can get it. So far the Free State Project
has been attracting people who already are libertarian activists, and
are also making activists out of people who previously were not. The
fact that the Free State Project presents us an opportunity to actually
win something has made people who were previously pessimistic and
discouraged ready to start working for freedom again.
Key Point 3
Libertarian activists can accomplish a great deal at the state level,
and these accomplishments are a necessary prerequisite to winning at the
State and local governments still have substantial powers. After moving
to our state, we could repeal state taxes and wasteful state government
programs. We could end collaboration between state and federal law
enforcement in enforcing unconstitutional laws. We could roll back
state gun and drug laws. We could end asset forfeiture and abuses of
eminent domain. We could privatize utilities and end inefficient
regulations and monopolies. Perhaps most importantly, we could effect a
full separation of school and state.
All these reforms will take time and hard work, no doubt. This is a
long-term project. We have to be willing to move to our chosen state,
settle and lay down roots there, then begin the gradual task of electing
local pro-freedom candidates, and eventually securing majority control
of the state legislature and the governorship. At that point, we will
be in a position to reject federal highway funds and the strings
attached to them and to stand up to the federal government: through the
courts, through referendums, through resolutions of the state
legislature, and through the leverage held by our federal
representatives. Our ultimate goal would be to restore robust
federalism, to make the 10th Amendment mean something again.
Thus, influencing state and local politics will be the first step toward
influencing the rest of the nation and the world in a pro-liberty
direction. Once we have established a favorable climate for business
and individual rights, people and businesses will move to our state,
forcing other state and even national governments to slash their own
taxes and respect their citizens’ rights to avoid losing their economies
to the Free State.
It may be 50 years before this vision comes to pass, if it ever does,
but there is no better time to start realizing it than now.
Call to Action
To summarize, to make national progress we need to achieve major
electoral and policy successes at the state and local level. To achieve
these electoral and policy successes, the Free State Project is the best
strategy. Our opponents are better funded, better known, more powerful,
and enjoy the benefits of defending the status quo against a “risky”
alternative. To defeat them we need to concentrate our activists and
resources on their weakest point. This is what the Free State Project
does. We will focus libertarian activists on a single state that is not
only low in population but already relatively friendly to libertarian
ideas and independent thinking. We will be assets to our community, by
developing private alternatives to government programs, by improving the
local economy through hard work and bright ideas, and, of course, by
providing the political prerequisites for cultural renewal and economic
I encourage everyone to consider joining the Free State Project, and if
you can’t join, to stay informed of our progress and to help spread the
Jason Sorens is founder and president of the Free State Project,
http://www.freestateproject.org. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Yale
University and lives in Asheville, North
Referring This Ezine – YES, by all means we encourage you to pass on
this newsletter to as many people as possible! We would only ask that
you make no changes to its content without written permission.
Cort McCadden, Managing Editor