As of February 3rd, 2016, 20,000 libertarians have officially signed the Statement of Intent to move to New Hampshire as part of a social movement called the Free State Project (FSP), designed around the tactic of a mass political migration. The goal was for 20,000 libertarians to move to a single, low-population state in order to make the state a stronghold for libertarian ideas. Acting as an assurance contract once the 20,000 signatures was compiled, which took place yesterday, the goal is for everyone to move to the State of New Hampshire within 5 years. The FSP is open to people with a minimum age of 18 and U.S. citizenship is not required. However, people who promote violence, racial hatred, or bigotry are not welcome in the FSP.
According to the FSP,
“We are looking for neighborly, productive, tolerant folks from any and all walks of life, of all ages, creeds, and colors, who agree to the political philosophy expressed in our Statement of Intent, that government exists at most to protect people’s rights, and should neither provide for people nor punish them for activities that interfere with no one else.”
Also going on to say,
“We are not a political action organization. We are not tied to any political party or organization; we do not run candidates for election; we do not financially support or endorse candidates; and we do not oppose or endorse legislation. All these things may be done by people in the state in whatever ways they choose, either individually or through the many local activist organizations with which many Free Staters are involved. The Free State Project’s only goal is to gather enough people in one place to make a real difference. How they do that is then up to them.”
The whole project stems from a 2001 essay published in The Libertarian Journal by former Yale graduate and now founder, Jason Sorens. In the essay he theorized that “if 20,000 committed activists moved to a single state with a small enough population, they could easily push policy and culture in a more free, open direction.”
After receiving feedback from over 220 readers, the movement rapidly evolved. In 2003, 5,000 signatures were compiled, triggering a vote as to what state they would settle in. Among 10 candidates in contention, the state of New Hampshire was ultimately chosen, with FSP stating that,
“Participants chose New Hampshire because it has a low state and local tax burden, a low level of dependence on federal spending, a citizen legislature where state house representatives have not raised their $100 per year salary since 1889, low crime levels, a dynamic economy with plenty of jobs and investment, and a general culture of individual responsibility, independence, and self-reliance.”
As of now, almost two thousand have already made the move. Although the number is impressive in some ways, it is still small relative to the goal, making it all the more interesting to see how many will make the move now that the 20,000 signature goal has been reached. The small fraction already present in New Hampshire is already making its presence known in the local legislature.
According to FSP,
“Dozens of them (FSP members) have been elected to state and local office, founded watchdog organizations, formed new media outlets, participated in dignified and educational civil disobedience, funded legal challenges to state abuses, or otherwise advanced the cause of liberty in noteworthy ways.”
As well as going on to state that,
“Early movers are bringing their businesses, families, and charities with them to New Hampshire—not to mention disposable income. So far,we’ve purchased more than $30 million in real estate alone, and I can’t wait to see what kind of larger impact will be made as a result of individual efforts within this growing and thriving community”
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. Donations are tax-deductible, as the FSP is a tax-exempt nonprofit educational organization, falling under category 501(c)(3). This affects all donations following July 20, 2009.
This movement is definitely not going unnoticed by establishment powers. New Hampshire state representative Cynthia Chase is claiming that “Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today.” 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.”
Others however, have embraced their presence, such as the Governor who welcomed them to the state. One admirer even being Edward Snowden, who will be the headline speaker at the Free State Project’s 9th annual Liberty Forum, held in Manchester, New Hampshire from February 18-21.
This is most likely a new subject to many, so please do more research and interact with them directly through their website: https://freestateproject.org/
Regardless of the outcome, it’s obvious many are looking for a way out and a new paradigm to live in. The idea of decentralization from a broken/corrupt central system has become highly appealing to many people as a potential option. This is a bottom up approach to change, where people once again begin to own their own communities and be free of unnecessary external control, yet voluntarily work together towards common goals. If anything, this is an idea that many should at least begin to contemplate as the current central system continues to malfunction and rob us all. We are better than this, so let’s at least start the conversation and do something about it, because doing nothing is allowing those in power to continue as is.
Sources: https://freestateproject.org/, https://freestateproject.org/blogs/press-releases/free-state-project-%E2%80%98triggers-move%E2%80%99-20000-libertarians-move-new-hampshire-next-5, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_State_Project