The Grand Western Conference Report
|Title:||The Grand Western Conference Report|
|Author:||Ben F. Irvin|
The Grand Western Conference ReportBy Ben F. Irvin 05/27/03
The most significant libertarian event of the year has just concluded in Missoula, Montana (May 24 and 25). Almost two hundred freedom seekers from around the nation and Alberta attended.
Fantastic presentations were given by the main presenters: J.J. Johnson, Nancy Johnson, Senator Jerry O'Neil, Jason Sorens, Vin Suprynowicz, and Claire Wolfe. All the presenters, save Jason (being neutral) agreed that liberty has the best chance surviving and expanding in the West. A couple of the main speakers indicated that freedom as sought by the FSP can only be procured in the West. A consistent point emphasized by the speakers was the idea that liberty needs elbow room to expand, and that the tiny Seaboarder states lack both the space and motivation for freedom to flourish. Jason seemed impressed by the attendance and enthusiasm of the gathered.
The Missoulian (Montana's second largest newspaper) and the Missoula Independent covered the event. The Montana Television Network and KPVI television from Pocatello, Idaho videoed parts of the event (video tapes were made of all activities by the MTLP).
State panel discussions were given by Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. In the final session on Sunday, the four Western state panels answered questions by participants. To demonstrate Instant Runoff Voting (another type of ranked choice voting called "Condorset's Method" will be used to select the free state), all porcupines (that's what FSP folks call themselves) were asked to gather around the table of the state they desire to be the free state. In the first round, South Dakota was eliminated and its supporters were asked to select their second choice. In the second round, Wyoming ended up with the short stick. A third round was not done as even if all of Wyoming's supporters moved to the Idaho table, Montana still had a majority. Indeed, Montana almost had a majority in the first round. It was observed that all of the presenters, save one (who was in the lobby in deep discussion) voted for Montana.
It was difficult to get many of the GWC participants motel/hotel rooms; however, most finally got accommodations. Nearly a dozen porcupines camped out. Most camped on Gary Marbut's ranch just a few miles north of Missoula. Gary was nice enough to provide free lodging for Jason. Both Gary and I supplied transportation for Jason.
A surprise at the GWC (Montana's winning was expected) was the six or seven Albertans that drove down to attend. Jim Turnbull explained in informal gatherings the Alberta plan for independence and liberty. It seemed to most that the Albertan political philosophy was compatible with that of most porcupines. Towards the end of the GWC three young Albertans told the Montana table that they intended to move to Montana regardless of which state becomes the free state and whether or not Alberta gains independence.
It took the work and effort of many people to make the GWC the libertarian event of the year. Special appreciation should be given to Mike Fellows (MTLP Chair), Gary Marbut, Andy Lochridge, and Mykl Meagher. Numerous others, too many to list, contributed heavily to the success of the Grand Western Conference.
I should also mention that my youngest son and I did manage to get Jason away from Missoula just long enough to see the National Bison Range and a panoramic view of the Mission Mountains and Flathead Valley.
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