Dale students join Free State
|Title:||Dale students join Free State|
|Publication:||Hillsdale Collegian Online|
'Dale students join Free State, citing Classical Liberal politics, pragmatic reasonsBy Peter Krupa 01/23/03
Turning words into actions, a number of free-market conservatives and libertarians from across the country are making a bid to take over an entire state government through political activism. The Free State Project calls for 20,000 like-minded volunteers to move to a single state with the goal of lowering taxes and reducing government control in that state, and several Hillsdale students are getting involved.
"It's an application of classical liberal philosophies," said sophomore Luke Morris, president of the Hilladale Liberals. "I figure, why not? I'm going to be living somewhere. Every state's got its good points and its bad points."
Morris and several other Hillsdale students have signed non-legal agreements to move to the state selected by the FSP members when its membership reaches 20,000. Once this is accomplished, the FSP members plan to take over the state governments gradually through activism and elected office.
"When you first hear about it, it does sound like a rather radical, ambitious idea," said Jason Sorens, founder and president of the Free State Project. "Most of us will be foot soldiers donating time and money."
Sorens founded the FSP in September of 2001; the move is tentatively scheduled for 2006, depending on whether the group achieves the target of 20,000 members. Right now, membership is just below 2,500 and the project is on pace to meet the goal.
Ten states are currently in the running for the relocation: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Maine. The website for the organization (www.freestateproject.org) stated that FSP only considered states with populations below 1.5 million. Other factors, such as location, job market and climate, may influence the final vote.
Sorens said he estimates between 15 and 20 percent of the current FSP members to be college students, a group that the project has been specifically targeting.
"We've been trying to do this because college students are a good demographic for this," Sorens said.
"I think that's really good for college kids because they don't even know where they're going to be in a few years," Morris said. "So basically what this means for me is I know I will be living in one of ten states after I graduate." After the move, Morris said he plans to influence state politics through writing.
Another Hillsdale student, senior Tyler Watts, said he joined the Free State Project for practical as well as ideological reasons. "My family moved from one community in Colorado to another for essentially economic reasons fewer regulations, less bureaucracy and red tape," he said. "The FSP is, for me, an extension of this type of idea across state lines."
Because the contract signed by Morris, Watts and all the FSP members is not legally binding, there's no way to guarantee participation from the members. But Sorens said that doesn't bother him.
"When the time comes it will be an exciting moment," he said. "Our biggest challenge remains getting the word out."
In doing this, FSP has enlisted the help of a cute, cartoon porcupine instead of the snake and "Don't tread on me" common in libertarian circles. Sorens emphasized that his organization should be seen as non-threatening, but tough to tangle with.
"We needed something fresher and more original to emphasize the newness of our idea," Sorens said. "We wanted to stress that we're not some fringe organization."
Though they have received their share of hate mail, he said the media exposure in target states has largely been good, especially in New Hampshire.
"We can expect some shouts of carpet bagging. We can't please everyone," Morris said. "But the states we're looking at vote more conservatively to begin with."
"We'll have to dispel [the carpet bagging] notion by doing our best to integrate into the state," Sorens said.
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