Montana a candidate for separatist takeover
|Title:||Montana a candidate for separatist takeover|
Montana a candidate for separatist takeoverBy Associated Press 10/14/02
Montana is one of 10 candidates in a developing plan to take over a state by the ballot box and wean it from federal control.
The Free State Project hopes to enlist 20,000 "liberty-oriented individuals" to move to a state and reform its laws, tax structure and political culture.
The government's only role should be to defend citizens from force and fraud, says project founder Jason Sorens, 25, a graduate student at Yale University.
All 10 states identified as candidates by the project have populations of less than 1.5 million: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming.
Four are considered most promising: New Hampshire, Wyoming, Delaware and Alaska.
Two small states, Hawaii and Rhode Island, were cut because they have exhibited "big-government tendencies."
If the takeover succeeds, drug and gun laws would be repealed, and asset forfeiture and abuses of eminent domain would end, according to the project's Web site. Utilities would be privatized, and inefficient regulations and monopolies would be eliminated.
The plan includes opting out of federal mandates and ultimately negotiating with the federal government for appropriate political autonomy. The threat of secession would be used, if needed, as leverage.
"We think government is too large, too distant, and we also think that we need to get back a bit more to our constitutional principles and start to take the Constitution seriously," Sorens said recently from his home in North Carolina.
The project's Web site has detailed reports on each of the 10 states. The report on Montana says "experienced or real freedom is higher in Montana than any other state ... If freedom is the primary objective of the Free State Project, then Montana is the best place to locate. It is the place Thomas Jefferson would live in if he were alive."
A poll on the Web site, asking visitors which state they would like the project to move to, has Montana and Wyoming tied for second with 13 percent of the vote.
The group wants to have 5,000 members by fall 2004, when it plans to chose a target state. It wants 20,000 members by fall 2006.
Sorens said changes in the targeted state would not be immediate or sweeping.
"We're looking at states that are already pro-freedom and pro-small government," he said. "Of course we will be interested in making some changes; however, these aren't going to be drastic changes, and we're going to start very humbly.
"We're not going to come in like gangbusters, obviously."
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