NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
By Lady Liberty
While most Americans were gearing up to celebrate the summer's biggest holiday, a lot of them had only the vaguest idea of what they were commemorating with their flags and fireworks. A poll (abcnews.go.com/sections/us/Politics/fourthofjulypoll030703.html) released just prior to Independence Day showed that, while the majority of Americans thought the Constitution had an impact on them, even more had only the most general idea of what that venerated document actually says. Further questioning of respondents showed that fewer still knew much about the Declaration of Independence. So in a post 9/11 climate, earmarked by the accelerated loss of liberty, people celebrated a freedom they largely no longer have, and apparently don't remember having.
While the lack of knowledge afflicting many people offers some shallow excuse for their failure to rail against lost liberties, some of those who do know their history and who do understand what we've lost and are losing also aren't fighting. Some did, but have been felled by the apparent futility of their lonely uphill battle. Some, seeing themselves in the small minority, gave up without fighting at all. And then there are the folks of the Free State Project (www.freestateproject.org)
The brainchild of Yale graduate student Jason Sorens, the Free State Project is dedicated to establishing a bastion of liberty to hold against a rising tide of socialism and apathy. Sorens hasn't fooled himself by believing he and those who have joined him can turn the juggernaut that is America's headlong fall away from freedom. His proposal involves instead just one state. That one state hasn't yet been chosen, but there are currently ten candidates under consideration. Those ten were selected based on several factors, the most important being population. Sorens calculated that, for states with a population of 1.5 million or less, a relatively few pro-freedom activists could not only make a difference but could actually stem and turn the political tide.
The dream held by the Free State Project is a relatively simple one. It imagines a place where the Constitution isn't a memory but is once again the basis for the law. Invasive and unconstitutional laws would be repealed by liberty loving legislators elected by a pro-freedom populace. Taxes would be few and strictly restrained; free trade would rule the marketplace. The Free State would, in short, be a place where Americans could once again live free in the manner envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
According to the game plan for the establishment of the Free State, once the Project's total membership reaches 5,000, members will vote to select a target state. Current projections estimate that the Project will have 5,000 members by sometime this August (which means you still have time to make your voice heard in the selection process if you join now). After that, when membership numbers reach 20,000, those who've signed onto the project will have five years to relocate to the chosen state. Those 20,000 freedom-loving individuals will, according to all of the best calculations, represent enough votes to put at least one state in the union back on the track built by the Founders. It is Sorens' fondest hope that, once there's one Free State, others will look at its success and take it upon themselves to see that their state becomes a Free State, too.
I freely confess that, when I first heard of the Free State Project, I considered it more an intellectual exercise than an achievable goal. But I visited the group's website anyway, and what I learned there proved to me that the membership was entirely serious, and to a man (and woman), believe the goal of a Free State can be met.
After having been convinced myself that a Free State could become a reality, and that I could help make it so, I began to talk to others about it. Although a few have become excited at the prospect and have announced their own willingness to work toward the Project's ultimate success, too many have told me that it will never work or that it will be too difficult for them to relocate. To some degree, I'm forced to admit that they're right.
It's perfectly true that the Free State Project will never work if enough people don't want it to and aren't willing to do something - even a little! - to help it along. Small donations, helping to spread the news by word of mouth or emails, researching candidate states, and many other relatively minor contributions will all add up toward success. And, having moved more times than I care to count in my own life, relocation is a serious inconvenience at best so I can understand the reluctance of some to pack up and go.
On the other hand, I remember that some 227 years ago a group of men (and, in many cases, the unsung women at their sides) offered everything they had to the cause of Revolution. They gave up their fortunes. They rode from town to town passing out leaflets or speaking to small gatherings while their farms, businesses, and families suffered. They bled. They risked the loss of property as punishment for small "crimes" against the state, and they risked execution for treason. Some of them lost everything but their lives; some lost everything including their lives. But no matter their great sacrifices, almost all of us today would have to say that what they did - the country they created - was worth their pain and suffering.
By working together and taking some significant risks, a relatively small group of brave men and women gave us our freedom. We now have the opportunity to travel a similar route but with far less personal consequence and a far greater chance of success. Our forefathers gave their blood. All we need to do is give our word. The revolutionaries died. We merely need to endure the inconvenience of packing and unpacking. The Founders winning of an Independence Day makes it possible for us to follow the independence way laid out neatly for us in the Free State Project. The only real question is whether or not we've enough of our forefathers in us to take the path once again toward liberty.