Turn me loose, set me free
|Title:||Turn me loose, set me free|
Turn me loose, set me freeBy Wayne Laugesen 11/14/02
Grab your gun, and tell the old lady to start packin' up the kids. It's time to move to Wyoming to create a free state. That's exactly what libertarian-minded people, from all over the country, are planning to do in droves.
For too long, Libertarians have comprised the party of refreshing and popular ideas but no results. Like members of all third parties, Libertarians have enjoyed victories that are really just hollow consolations. Libertarians, for example, took majority control of an entire city council recently. Unfortunately, the pothole politics of Leadville, Colo., don't free American citizens from oppressive taxes, big business and excessive government.
What Libertarians need, if they are to become a real player in American politics, is this: two members in the United States Senate, at least one member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a governor. (Holding onto the Leadville City Council won't hurt them, either!)
How do they accomplish this substantive step toward the major leagues? They take over Wyoming, Vermont, or one of the other 10 states (or the District of Columbia) that consist of fewer than 1.5 million residents. (Other possible targets are: Idaho; Maine; New Hampshire; Hawaii; Rhode Island; Montana; Delaware; South Dakota; North Dakota; and Alaska)
The invasion of one of these states will happen within the next decade. In the works is a well-organized political maneuver headed by the Free State Project. Already, more than 1,500 Libertarians have signed a pledge to move to the soon-to-be-freed state once the organizers of the project decide which state to liberate. The goal is to get 20,000 Libertarians or libertarian-minded people to commit to taking over a state by moving to it and voting.
Getting 20,000 people to agree to live free is no gargantuan task, so don't make the mistake of writing this off as a pie-in-the-sky dream of the political fringe. And don't make the mistake of thinking 20,000 hardcore voters, who all believe in less government and lower taxes, isn't enough to take over most federal, state and local political offices in an entire state.
Wyoming, which would be the best selection, consists of only 493,782 people. Wyoming has fewer people than live in the tiny cities of Wichita, Kans., or Colorado Springs. Wyoming's population base isn't twice the size of Boulder County's. Would it be a stretch to believe in an effort by all the country's Libertarians to control the politics of Wichita? Nope. So it should be no harder to visualize a successful political coup in Wyoming.
Despite Wyoming's sparse population, it has as much clout in the United States Senate as does California-a state that's home to 33,871,648 people-or 33,377,866 more people than live in Wyoming. California has two Senators; Wyoming has two Senators. Each U.S. Senator, whether from California or Wyoming, has one vote on any given bill. Likewise, California has one governor; Wyoming has one governor. Wyoming has one U.S. Representative, even though the state's entire population falls short of comprising a congressional district.
Liberal Democrats-who hold the uneducated view that America is a "democracy"-loathe this dynamic of American politics. They would like to see the Electoral College vanish, so the urban majority could dominate all aspects of American government. The founders knew better than to allow that to occur. They knew that pure democracy would result in tyranny of the majority, not liberty. So they designed a system that empowers minorities so much power that they enjoy a mighty hedge against mob rule. We're not a "democracy," but a constitutional republic that employs some democratic principles such as elections. If we were a pure democracy, my right to own guns would have long ago been taken by a whimsical vote of the majority. My right to publish editorials that ridicule the majority would have long ago been taken away. If this were a democracy, the opportunity for a minority political group to take over an entire state-a state with seemingly lopsided clout-would have been nixed by now.
Wyoming is so important to the national political landscape that outside interests pumped tens of millions of dollars into the most recent senatorial race. ABC's Robert Krulwich ran the numbers in creative ways designed to give people some idea of how much money individual votes are worth in a state with fewer than a half million residents. Krulwich proved that with the money spent on the Senate race, mostly by outside sources, each candidate could have taken each potential voter to dinner 11 times.
Money doesn't guarantee victory, even in a tiny state, because the other side of a two-party political system can usually match the spending dollar-for-dollar. Human infiltration, however, can't be defeated. Imagine 20,000 voters, who each cast straight pro-liberty ballots, diluting the tiny electorate of Wyoming. Also consider the fact that Wyoming-like Vermont, the second smallest state with 608,932 residents-already has libertarian leanings. Both are rural states, where the native culture tends to value self-sufficiency while rejecting the kind of urban interdependence that statist, liberal, big-government politicians so like to exploit.
After moving 20,000 voters to a small state, here's what the Free State Project hopes to do: repeal state taxes and wasteful state government programs; end grants and collaboration between state and federal law enforcement; repeal all state gun control and drug prohibition; end asset forfeiture and abuses of eminent domain; privatize utilities and untwist big business monopolies. When all that's done, the free-staters plan to negotiate with the federal government for a return of the state's constitutional autonomy.
Then, let's hope they'll "take over" and free a few more states.
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