Beginning the Migration
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.
Beginning the Migration
by Tim Condon, FSP member services
As I watch the Free State Project gather steam, and the excitement among FSP members grow, I'm wondering about the worries voiced by some about "how many will really move when we reach 20,000?" One FSP member has written, "We're not going to get everyone who said they'd move. Many will not actually move. Moreover, there will be a large group who opted out of the state chosen and will therefore not move. Might we get 10,000 to move out of 20,000? Going by the numbers, 10,000 people aren't enough to make a real difference. It also gives us a false sense of positive movement if we believe we have 20,000 members but in fact half the members aren't actually willing to move to the chosen state because of opting out or wimping out."
Yikes! What a problem!
But wait! Everyone calm down. It's not as bad as it sounds. First of all, when the Free State is chosen, all those who have opted out of the state we pick will be switched from fully signed-up members to "friends" of the Free State Project (they will of course have the chance to opt back in to the state they formerly opted out of). This means that we may have a reduction in the number of full-blown Porcupines right after the vote is taken. However, from that point forward---all the way to the 20,000 number---there will be no question about commitment to "that particular state." Anyone who chooses to join the FSP will, of necessity, be committing to move to that (free) state. So we all can expect that the brave and valiant "first 20,000" will be a committed bunch of Porcs.
And yet?it is still possible that we will have only 10,000 actual migrating Porcupines when we hit the 20,000 mark. To which I would say, "Take heart! It's a start!" Why? Because the single most important fact will be that the Free State will have been chosen. And that will be enough, for several reasons. Consider these facts:
First of all, the single most important function of the Free State Project is to "anoint" the state to be chosen as the Free State. There is no other comparable organization in existence that could do such a thing. Certainly the Libertarian Party, as a national organization, couldn't do it, even if they had a mind to. And historically, the various other "free country" projects usually turn out to be little more than separate groups of bickering, unrealistic scams and hustles. However, due to what's been accomplished already by the FSP, as well as the steady leadership in its founding and growth, the Project has the standing to conduct a vote to pick a single U.S. state for libertarians and other freedom-lovers to begin migrating to. The FSP's Free State will be the Free State for many years to come, make no mistake about it.
Second, there are scores if not hundreds of Porcupines who have already decided to migrate immediately, just as soon as the Free State is chosen (possibly by July or August 2003). They're not waiting for the 20,000 mark which will presumably be reached several years down the road, and they're not waiting to begin the fight to transform the chosen state into a freedom-friendly venue. Everyone should be aware of this: It's unlikely there will be a mass migration like the Oklahoma land rush, beginning on some specific date. Rather, the migration will start immediately upon the state being chosen, and will continue indefinitely, for many years thereafter?possibly forever! In fact, even though we all seek liberty in our lifetimes, we must view the Free State Project as a long-term effort. The Free State will not be a shining beacon of freedom and liberty only after it has been freed...it will be a beacon for freedom-lovers from the very date it's chosen.
As one FSP member posted in a forum:
"I think that simply getting to the point where we (the FSP members) choose the Free State will have significant ramifications for the freedom movement. Once the state is chosen, that locale will assume a sort of special status---it will have been dubbed the Free State in the union. The chosen Free State will become a magnet for individualists and libertarian types, even those who have nothing to do with the FSP. The future devolution of the nation state will be impacted by the concentration of freedom lovers in the target state, almost independently of what we are able to accomplish in the short term. Even if the FSP were to never reach the goal of 20,000 members, simply getting to the 5,000 member milestone will have significance."
A third point is important too. We must remember that no matter how many signed-up Porcupines there are who decide not to move...there are at least as many "people of freedom" who are simply waiting and watching. They want to be assured that the Free State Project isn't a flash in the pan. They want to know that it is a serious, well-thought-out, ongoing project. They want to know which state is going to be chosen. And they want to see if people actually start to move to the state. As the migration begins (immediately upon the Free State being chosen), more and more people will be moved to join the FSP and/or simply move to the Free State. The migration process will start slowly, and will only exhibit the proverbial snowball effect after a period of years: We are only at the very beginning of a struggle to re-establish the original American ideal of individual freedom and limited government.
Fourth and finally, we must all keep in mind that "success breeds success." Sure, there are people who have opted out of Wyoming, or New Hampshire, or Alaska, or Delaware, or Montana, or Idaho, or Vermont...but we also know that such people are interested in achieving personal and political freedom. Say we pick South Dakota, and a bunch of Easterners (not to mention Kim Watson, who is hell-bent on getting back to her home state of North Dakota) have either opted out of South Dakota or simply refuse to move there. What do you think will happen as soon as libertarian state senators and state representatives start being elected from political parties that could include a ?South Dakota Party,? the Libertarian Party, the Constitutionalist Party, and the Republican Party (which has been transformed to look like a conservative LP)? As "good things begin to happen," more and more freedom-lovers who in the past dismissed the possibility of moving, will suddenly be forced to reassess. ("Hey, did you see that they just abolished the sales tax in the Free State?" "How about that alliance between the LP and the autonomists in the Free State that just decriminalized marijuana and abolished the state income tax!" "How about those people in the Free State! They just reduced the state budget by 50% in a single year!").
And all of that, my Porcupine friends, will be part of the snowball effect also.
Should we think it's going to be easy? Certainly not! We will be viciously attacked by statists in the political power structure, in the media, and in other venues as we work to reform the Free State. But we must be ever more resolute as the statists and other fear-mongers attack us. Read what happened when the tiny town of Leadville, Colorado, was blessed with a majority of libertarians on the city council (as recounted by an FSP member, one of the city council members):
"We were accused by our mayor, police chief, fire chief, newspapers, and more people in the audience than I had thought possible that we were 'imposing a national libertarian agenda' on the people of Leadville. Our effort to discontinue a fulltime code enforcement position and to turn over those duties to our eight remaining police officers (thereby reducing the force by one by not filling a vacancy) was met with accusations that we were going to lay off officers one by one until we had no police force. The opposition extrapolated our layoff of a recently-hired administrative assistant into our eventually wanting to get rid of city hall. They extrapolated our efforts to get rid of business license taxes to our eventually wanting to get rid of all taxes and to let just anyone set up a business. They extrapolated our effort to get rid of the sign code and the P&Z [planning and zoning] code to getting rid of all codes which would result in anybody building anything they wanted to anywhere they wanted to. We became enemy number one of even people who, prior to our taking office, wanted us to repeal these things. When the fear-mongering got to them they accused us of trying to take over and shove our libertarian agenda down people's throats. Yet these very same people were, and still are, at risk of being cited by these codes and one would have expected their support. We were accused of 'going backwards' and undoing years and decades of hard work building those codes. When I cited Jefferson in a rebutting letter to the editor, other letter writers used that as evidence of our hypocrisy because Jefferson was a 'big government' president. Sheesh!"
So be of stout heart, fellow Porcupines, and get ready! We must have resolve, and it must last our whole lives. I can promise you all only two things when the Free State is chosen later this year and the migration begins: First, it's going to be great fun and furnish great excitement for all Porcupine political warriors! And second, it's going to be hard as hell to roll back the tyranny of local statism. For just as Thomas Paine wrote, "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered" ... even in the Free State.
January 6, 2003