Move over, hippies
|Title:||Move over, hippies, the Libertarians are coming|
|Publication:||Burlington Free Press|
Move over, hippies, the Libertarians are comingBy Sam Hemingway 04/27/03
As swings of the political pendulum go, this one would be a lulu.
According to an Associated Press report, Vermont is one of 10 sparsely populated states that a group of Libertarians is considering fertile territory for its Free State Project.
If Vermont becomes the choice of the group when it picks its dream state this year, some 20,000 Libertarian true believers are supposed to move here by 2008.
Their idea is to concentrate enough Libertarians in one state to take it over, via the ballot box in selected races, and put in place a set of Libertarian principles. Already, 3,100 have signed on to go to whatever state the group chooses.
Imagine it: Vermont could suddenly switch from being perhaps the most liberal state in the union to being the most Libertarian one.
Hello, prostitution, gambling and unregulated drug usage. Good-bye, government regulation, public schools and smoke-free workplaces.
Will it happen? Probably not, but the interest in Vermont from the Free State Project and its mastermind, Yale University doctoral candidate Jason Sorens, is serious.
"I think Vermont has a solid chance of winning," Sorens wrote in an e-mail interview last week. "New Hampshire is the favorite of many, but Vermont is fairly high on people's lists."
Indeed, Vermont has made it to the "Final Four" of the 10 states under consideration, according to an Internet treatise by Tim Condon, director of member services for the Free State Project. Condon's other three finalists: Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota.
Vermont Libertarians said they like the plans of the Free State Project, particularly if it ends up choosing Vermont as its destination.
"I've always felt the voting population of Vermont was more populist than liberal," said Robert Maynard of Williston. "Vermont has a quasi-Libertarian history to it."
As for Sorens, he's so taken with Vermont that he conducted a scouting mission to Vermont in February.
While here, he met with everyone from Burlington Progressive Mayor Peter Clavelle to members of the anti-Act 60 Citizens for Property Rights and anti-civil unions Take Back Vermont organizations.
Afterward, Sorens wrote about his trip in an e-mail report to the faithful. He said the journey was "fascinating," but he was uneasy about the anti-homosexual remarks of the Take Back Vermont crowd and the "blunt, oppositional approach" of the property rights group.
He also told of an exchange with Clavelle during which the mayor was asked to draw a map to show what parts of the state would be most welcoming to Libertarians.
"He drew Vermont and New Hampshire, indicated the Connecticut River as the border between the two, and drew an arrow from Vermont to New Hampshire," Sorens recalled.
"'That's where you need to go, across the river,'" Sorens quoted Clavelle as saying. "We had a good laugh about that."
Sorens' and the Free State Project's enthusiasm for Vermont is also based in part on the results of their research into the so-called hippie invasion here in the early 1970s.
At the time, news articles and an infamous piece from the April 1972 Playboy Magazine titled "Taking Over Vermont" raised the question of whether a vast influx of young people into Vermont could lead to its takeover.
A lot of Vermonters, including some aging ex-hippies, will tell you no such thing was ever contemplated. Sorens thinks otherwise. He argues the state's shift toward the left over the last 25 years is proof the takeover indeed occurred.
"I think they were certainly less organized than we," Sorens wrote in his e-mail.
Hippies not well organized?
You've got to be kidding.
Sam Hemingway is the Free Press state news columnist. His columns appear Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. If you have a comment or tip, phone 660-1850, or e-mail email@example.com. For past columns, go to www.burlingtonfreepress.com
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