|Title:||Libertarian Homesteaders Have High Hopes|
|Publication:||Cybercast News Service|
Libertarian Homesteaders Have High Hopes
by Christine Hall CNSNews.com Staff Writer
(CNSNews.com) - Want a better state government? How about moving to another state with 20,000 of your political soul mates to take over the government there? That's what one group is planning.
The Free State Project (FSP), a small group of libertarian activists, is trying to make a big difference in state politics by recruiting 20,000 like-minded people to move en masse to a small state and flex enough political muscle to shrink the government.
"The government has gotten too big, and [project members] want to return to a lifestyle pre-PATRIOT Act and pre-Roosevelt...New Deal kind of nanny statism," FSP Vice President Elizabeth McKinstry explained.
Specifically, the loose-knit group of activists wants to do away with many taxes, as well as laws regulating home schooling, marriage, controlled substances, small businesses and the Second Amendment.
According to McKinstry, the group now boasts 5,000 members who are this month voting via mailed-in paper ballots to select a state, using an "instant runoff" voting method called Conder sets. The winning choice is scheduled for an Oct. 1 unveiling.
Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Delaware, Vermont and New Hampshire are the 10 states on the short list. Low population is the top consideration. "The numbers indicate that any state under about 1.5 million population could be significantly affected by a group of 20,000 political activists," said McKinstry.
In an Aug. 9 release, the FSP boasted N.H. Gov. Craig Benson (R) as having "signed on as a supporter," something the governor's office politely suggests is overstating the situation.
"The group did come by the Executive Council chamber one day with [2002 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate] John Babiarz, and the governor spent a few minutes with them," read a statement issued by Benson's office. "The governor was pleased that the group has said that it is for the rule of law, against bigotry and very impressed with New Hampshire."
For his part, Wyoming's governor, Democrat Dave Freudenthal, has a welcoming but reserved message.
"Anyone is welcome to move here, as long as they obey the laws," stressed Freudenthal spokesperson Lara Azar. "We're not going to close our borders to this group."
The governor "does believe in a smaller government because he subscribes to the notion that the best government is the government closest to the people," Azar said.
But Azar acknowledged that the FSP's message on drug policy, for example, won't receive a warm reception from Freudenthal.
"That's going to be a tricky one for this governor; he was a former federal prosecutor," she said. "He has quite a belief in enforcing federal drug laws."
And Freudenthal, like other observers, is skeptical of the FSP's chances for success in the endeavor.
"He has said that he thinks the FSP is over-estimating the receptivity to their ideas in this state," said Azar.
"We certainly support their goal of tax reduction, and we wish them well," said George Getz, spokesman for the Libertarian Party. But, he said, "I'm not sure how practical it is.
"I'm a little skeptical that all of those people are going to pick up and sell their houses and quit their jobs and pull their kids out of school and move to a different state," said Getz.
He also quibbles with the FSP's methodology, since LP supporters haven't given up trying to change the political landscape by electing candidates in every state and pressuring the major parties.
"We would like to have 50 free states, not just one," said Getz. "The way to achieve that is to elect more Libertarians to public office." According to Getz, the LP now has more than 500 Libertarians in local offices nationwide.
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