Free State Project vote set for August
by Nadia White Star-Tribune staff writer 07/08/03
Liberty-minded activists will choose which sparsely-populated state will be the
focus of their collective political might in a vote beginning in August.
Members of the Free State Project will have until Sept. 8 to vote on which of
10 states they would like to move to in order to advocate for limited
government. Wyoming and New Hampshire are top contenders in the effort.
The Free State Project is an effort to sign up 20,000 advocates of limited
government to move to a single state in which they can incrementally reduce the
reach of government. That effort passed the 4,000-member mark earlier in June,
prompting organizers to set a vote date.
The deadline to sign up to participate in the vote is Aug. 15, by which time
the FSP should have more than 5,000 members, according to the group's
projections. The deadline for members to return their ballots is Sept. 8, and
the selected state will be announced on Sept. 15, according to a press release
from Jason Sorens, the Yale University doctoral student who founded and leads
Tom Parker, a Louisville, Colo., resident who serves as the group's liaison to
Wyoming, said the movement is a reaction to the current government climate.
"In terms of liberty, we see things drifting away with the latest moves like
the USA Patriot Act, and the various wars, now Liberia, we feel our government
is not playing by the rules of the Constitution so we're hoping to change
things," Parker said. "By concentrating our numbers in one state we're hoping
to have more influence and move things more toward liberty."
Eligible voters will be able to choose from among Alaska, Delaware, Idaho,
Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and
Wyoming. Once the group reaches 20,000 commitments, members have five years in
which to move to the chosen state. Some members have already indicated that
they will move as soon as the state is chosen, Parker said.
Dennis Brossman, a Wyoming Libertarian, said the project is very appealing.
" I am tempted by the project even if Alaska or Vermont were to try it. I
prefer Wyoming, the climate and terrain and being in the heart of the 48
states, but the freedom experiment is very alluring to me," Brossman said. "
I'd be willing to move to Alaska."
Brossman said the idea of newcomers changing the way things are done in Wyoming
is nothing new.
"I think it's done in other realms, but not so openly and honestly," he said.
"For example, in Lander and Jackson in the last 10, 15 years, we've had a large
number of environmentalists move in and they heavily affect the policy in these
He said he thinks the plan has a shot: "I think it's something that would be
workable and doable. I don't think it's a pipe dream."
The Free State Project posts additional information on its Web site, (http://www.freestateproject.org).
More media articles about the FSP
These media articles are maintained on a non-commercial basis by
The Free State Project,
a non-profit organization, for historical, educational, scholarship,
and research purposes. (For information regarding "Fair Use", see
US Code Title 17,
Chapter 1, Section 107).
• To find your Local Group, click on your location in the map below!
• Want to learn how help your Local Group become better?
Analysis of Presidential Elections
in the 10 Candidate States
In Tennyson's report Analyzing the Freedom
Orientation of Existing State Populations, he analysed the results of the
2000 presidential election and what it means to the FSP and its members. The
gist of that report is in this table:
Voter Predisposition to Vote for Small-government Candidates
(2000 Presidential Election)
Source: Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of
Existing State Populations
By looking at the 2000 election, we see that Wyoming and
Idaho come out far above all of the other candidate states. However, one
election is just that one election, and cannot be considered the whole
Nine most recent presidential elections
Here is the data from the nine most recent presidential elections: 2000
1968. This data presents a more complete picture of all recent Presidential
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
| Ford (R)
| Nixon (R)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Carter (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Ford (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Humphrey (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Nixon (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
|| Gore (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Clinton (D)
|| Bush (R)
|| Dole (R)
|| Bush (R)
1 Ross Perot beat George Bush in Maine with 30.44% to 30.39% of the
(Note: I stopped doing research at the 1968 election because in the
1964, 1960, and 1956 elections, most of the candidate states voted for the same
candidate and because the farther back you go, the less representative the data
is to the reality of today. Even in the 1970s and 1980s most of the candidate
states voted for the same candidate. Before 1956, well, most current Americans
were not even alive or at the very least, not even voting back then.)
The Republican presidential candidates from 1968 to 2000 generally sold
themselves as, or were perceived as, or pretended to be, more pro-small
government than the Democratic Party presidential candidates. Generally
this is the case and is clearly evident by the specific campaign literature and
ads of the above presidential candidates.
So we can rank the states by the
number of Republican presidential candidates that won their state elections:
Amount for Republicans from 1968 to 2000
Reagan and Goldwater
What about races where a candidate from a major party ran on downsizing
the federal government?
This has occured twice in somewhat recent times. In 1980 Ronald Reagan (R) ran
for president and in 1964 Barry Goldwater (R) ran for president. Both times,
their major issue was Downsizing DC. Reagan communicated the message better and
won the 1980 election while Goldwater lost his election.
According to Harry Browne and many others, the media even tried to portray
Reagan as more libertarian than he was. Ronald Reagan did not act as a
libertarian once in office, but that is how he ran for his first
(Note: Votes for the LP candidate, Ed Clark, are included with Reagan's,
because Reagan used many of Clark's ideas and this is the best election ever
for an LP candidate.)
1980 Election - Vote for Ronald Reagan
| Entire U.S.
2 Ed Clark got 11.7% of the 66.0% total.
(He got < 3% in all the other FSP candidate states)
Barry Goldwater only had the opportunity to run for office because the
paleo-conservative and the libertarian Republicans were able to take over the
Republican Party primary and hand the nomination to Barry Goldwater. The
national GOP did not even support his bid for president after he was nominated.
All records show that Barry Goldwater was set on dramatically reducing the size
of government and those in change of the GOP wanted nothing to do with him or
1964 Election - Vote for Barry Goldwater
Average of Reagan and Goldwater elections
I computed this table by averaging the "Amount of Republicans from 1968 to
2000" and "Average of Reagan and Goldwater elections" rankings:
Total Average Ranking According to this Report
Now that we have the whole picture, let's compare it to just the 2000
Amazingly, they are very similar, almost eerily similar. Maybe I was wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, the 2000 presidential election really does provide us with a
very good look at the ideology of the candidate states. None of the candidate
states move more than ONE position in the state ranking.
Whatever the conclusion, one thing is for sure: Time and time again, both
Idaho and Wyoming stand out in the above rankings.
Let's Talk About North Dakota
By Tim Condon
Since almost no one in the Free State Project has been paying any attention
to North Dakota (including me) up until recently, this essay is offered as a
general review and history about the state.
First fact: The topography is pretty much flat in North Dakota. The last
"ice age" ended about 12,000 years ago, and before that ice covered most of the
upper part of North America, including North Dakota. Geologists believe there
have been dozens of ice ages in history, featuring glaciers "several
miles thick," which means that North Dakota and other parts of the upper
midwest have been "sanded down" pretty thoroughly (although the state does have
some small mountains that get up to a few thousand feet).
The first "modern people" to live in the area were American Indians,
including the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsas. Other tribes that inhabited the
area at different points were the Cheyenne, Cree, and some Chippewa who came
into North Dakota from Minnesota. The best known tribe were Dakota, also known
as the Lakota or Sioux (the word "Dakota" means "friend" or "ally" in the
Dakota or Sioux language). The area was first "officially explored" by white
men during the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804-1806.
In the late 1800's, after North Dakota became a state in 1889, it benefitted
from waves of immigrants from northern European countries that were spurred on
by the new railroads (which at one time owned nearly 1/4 of North Dakota by
virtue of being given the land by the federal government). The immigrants who
flooded in came mainly from Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. By 1900
the state's population was 319,000, and by 1920 it hit 577,000 (compare that
with today's population of 642,000, slated to increase by only 9,000 over the
next 20 years).
North Dakota is one of the top farming states in the U.S. It ranks #1 in
production of barley and sunflower seeds, and #2 in wheat production (behind
only Kansas). It was settled as a "place to farm," with some of the richest
farming soil in the world found along the Red River Valley (the river forms the
border between North Dakota and Minnesota on the east). Overall, the state is
very green, and in mid-summer much of it looks like a vast and endless grass
meadow interspersed with flowers.
To "cure the problem of oversupply" of farm crops in the 1960's, the federal
government started the "Soil Bank," paying farmers not to plant their
fields. Eventually almost 10% of the state's farmland was idled. Then in the
1980's the federal government followed up with the "Conservation Reserve
Program," which took thousands of acres more out of farm production.
Now, under President George W. Bush, a new "farm subsidy program" has been
signed into law that will expend about $170 billion over the next ten years.
All of these programs doubtless contribute to the fact that North Dakota is the
worst state on the FSP's "final 10 list" for "government dependency" (that is,
citizens of North Dakota overall receive $1.95 back from the federal government
for every $1.00 paid in taxes; however, it's not clear that the federal
largesse actually goes to people as opposed to being corporate welfare for
large agribusiness concerns).
Today North Dakota is trying to diversify its economy. Many ranchers have
taken up herding Bison which are slaughtered for meat. The state is also trying
to lure high tech industry, like most other states, and is having some success
with a nascent high-tech sector in the city of Fargo.
Politically the state is a mixture. Currently it has a Republican Governor,
John Hoeven, elected in 2000 for a 4-year term (term limits have been voted
into existence in North Dakota, but the current governor is not subject to
them); he followed another Republican governor, Edward Schafer, who was in
office from 1993 to 2000. But the two U.S. Senators are both Democrats, Kent
Conrad and Byron Dorgan (up for re-election in 2006 and 2004 respectively). And
the state's single member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Earl Pomeroy,
is also a Democrat (re-elected in the 11/5/02 election).
The state's bicameral legislature, however, which meets only every other
year, has Republicans outnumbering Democrats by wide margins: In the 2001
legislative session the North Dakota House of Representatives had 69
Republicans and 29 Democrats, while the state senate had 32 Republicans and 17
Interestingly, North Dakota is the only state in the U.S. that has no voter
registration rolls, having abolished them in 1951. Even so, though, there has
been no documentation of widespread voter fraud in the state. In order to vote
in a North Dakota election, a voter must be at least 18 years old on the day of
the election, a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of the state, and must have
lived in the voting precinct for at least 30 days preceding the day of the
With respect to geography, there are three land area "types" in North
Dakota: The Red River Valley on the east, with its extraordinarily fertile
farming land; the "drift prairie" to the west of the valley, which features
rolling hills, lakes, and streams; and the "great plains" which covers an area
farther west (the Great Plains in the center of North America runs from Canada
to Texas). Another famous part of the state is the "Dakota Badlands" in the
southwest portion (the area got its name from the first French explorers who
called it "mauvaises terrest a traverser" or "bad lands to travel through").
The elevation of the state varies from the lowest point of 750 feet above sea
level to small mountains that get up to a maximum of 3,506 feet at White Butte
in the badlands.
North Dakota has large amounts of water, both above and below ground. There
are large lakes and reservoirs, and large rivers including the Little Missouri,
the Missouri River, the Red River, and many others. Lake Sakajawea is a huge
reservoir that backs up behind one of the largest earth-filled dams in the
United States, Garrison Dam. However, there has been flooding: After the winter
of 1996-97, heavy snow and then heavy rain totally flooded the city of Grand
Forks on the upper part of the Red River along with other cities along the
Missouri and Red rivers.
Okay...climate. We've gotta talk about climate. There's lots of sunshine,
rain, and snow in North Dakota (at least we Porcupines wouldn't have to put up
with long bouts of dreary grayness, even if the temperatures are numbingly
cold). The first freezing temperatures occur around the middle of September,
and January is the coldest month with an average daily high of 16 degrees
Fahrenheit and an average low of 7 below zero. July, the warmest month, on the
other hand, features an average daily high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit and an
average daily low of 58 degrees (nice!). Says one Porcupine who has visited
North Dakota extensively: "When you consider that they get more sunshine than
the eastern U.S., and that they have lower humidity, ND's climate may compare
very favorably to many of the states on the Free State list...I think
all the people talking about livability would be pleasantly surprised at North
Further information from a North Dakota savant: "The reason that North
Dakota has a bad climate reputation lies in its continental climate. With the
great plains stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle, and no
large bodies of water, there is nothing to stop or moderate great weather
systems from sweeping in from either direction. Instead of saying ND has a bad
climate, it would be more accurate to say it has a climate of rapid and radical
The rainy season in North Dakota is in the spring and summer, with June
being the rainiest month. Then rainfall drops off rapidly in the autumn.
North Dakota has less forested land than any other state in the nation. Less
than 1% of the state is covered by forests. But for outdoors-type Porcupines,
the state has plentiful hunting (bighorn sheep, whitetail and mule deer,
antelope, and moose, as well as numerous species of birds and waterfowl) and
fishing (perch, catfish, walleye pike and northern pike, rainbow trout, salmon,
etc.). There's also a great hiking and biking trail in the grasslands part of
the state that's 120 miles long; it meanders through the Little Missouri
National Grasslands and is named the Maad Daah Hey Trail ("grandfather" in the
Bismarck is the state capitol, located in the south central part of the
state, and Interstate 94 is the main east-west artery, going from Fargo on the
east through Bismarck in the center, and the towns of Dickinson and Medora
toward the west. Fargo is the biggest "city" in the state, with about 74,000
people; then come Grand Forks and Bismarck with about 49,000 each, then Minot
in the north central part of the state (where there's a big military base) with
about 34,500; and then the next two largest towns are Dickinson with about
16,000 and Jamestown with about 15,500.
Population density in North Dakota ranges from 1-3 inhabitants per square
mile (19 counties), to 4-6 per square mile (17 counties), up to a maximum of
38-58 per square mile (4 counties, around Bismarck, Minot, Grand Forks, and
Fargo). It's population is 95% white, 4% Native American and less than 1% each
of Hispanic, African American, Asian and "other." The state's people are about
evenly divided between urban dwellers (about 53%) and rural (47% on farms and
in rural areas).
Says my North Dakota informant: "The reason its population is small and not
growing has nothing to do with climate. It is the natural progression of the
state's largest industry, agriculture. Thankfully for all of us, technological
advancement means that continually fewer people are needed to produce
increasingly more food and fiber. There is no reason the rest of us, no longer
needing to grow food, can't thrive in any location where our individual talents
are allowed to flourish. As for me, North Dakota sounds as good as any, and
probably better than most."
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this
essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not
necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its
Officers, or its Participants.
North Dakota's Non-Partisan League: Lessons for the Free State
by Sean Scallon
This article first appeared in the February 2002 issue of
Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (www.ChroniclesMagazine.org).
"Here in North Dakota, people vote Republican for president or for local
offices because they're seen as the white party," North Dakota State University
political science professor David Danbom told me. "But they'll vote for the
Democrats for Congress and some local offices to look after their economic
interests in Washington or here at home."
North Dakota is as good a place as any to see these cultural and political
forces in action. But it is also a place where people on the outside of the
elite economic and political structures of the state once used the two-party
duopoly to build an independent political force that swept the Upper Midwest
from 1915 to 1925. It was not a new party, like the Progressives of Wisconsin
or the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota, but an organization that used the
Republican and Democratic nominations to advance its own agenda: the
Non-Partisan League (NPL).
I am not offering a paean to the League's socialist policies or its legacy
within North Dakota, which includes a state bank that contributes $40-50
million to state coffers each fiscal year and a state grain elevator and mill
that, like so many socialist enterprises, struggles every year and is
constantly asking the state for more money. A brief overview of the League's
history, however, may help conservatives, patriots, libertarians, and even the
occasional Green understand that third-party politics are often infantile and
that the best way to promote policies and candidates favoring their own views
may be to build independent political organizations based on cultural and
economic factions that can use familiar party labels to advance their own
policies and candidates.
Throughout the decade of the 1910s, the Socialist Party tried to organize
farmers across North Dakota. Since farmers got virtually nothing for the wheat
they worked hard to produce, many sympathized with their ideas, which included
state control of banks, railroads, mills, and elevators. Low prices on
Minneapolis grain markets, low payments from Minneapolis millers such as
Pillsbury and General Mills, and high shipping rates from railroads squeezed
North Dakota farmers in a tight vise. The state banks - also controlled by
Minneapolis financial interests - foreclosed on farms all over the state in
1915 and 1916, and the failure of the legislature to act upon a successful
ballot initiative in favor of a state grain-terminal facility fueled farmers'
frustration and anger.
The Socialists could never warm themselves by this prairie fire. They had
little support outside of Fargo and a bad reputation for atheism,
rabble-rousing, internecine warfare over party doctrine and theory, labor
unrest, and violence. In Northern Lights, an independent film that won a
critics' award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979, Ray Sorenson, a Norwegian
farmer who is organizing for the NPL in the northwest part of the state near
the Canadian border, tells a grocerystore owner in Crosby, who happens to be a
Socialist, that "I've never seen a successful Socialist." In many ways, the
Libertarians of the late 20th century are similar to the Socialists of the
early 20th century. Many are sympathetic to their ideas, but no one wants to
identify with the Libertarian Party.
Socialist organizer A.C. Townley recognized this problem first. A former
flax farmer, he was frustrated at Socialist infighting, the party's failure to
strike a chord in the rural parts of the states that were suffering the most,
and its inability to court more moderate voters. He focussed his efforts on
builing a cultural and economic coalition of small farmers and businessmen from
hamlets across the state. Rather than engage in party politics, this new group
simply called itself the Non-Partisan League.
In 1915, the year of the League's founding, North Dakota switched to an
open primary. Since the Democratic Party was a nonentity, the NPL ran
candidates under the GOP label. NPL candidates, however, did not join the GOP
or become a part of the party structure. The NPL was a political force for
nearly half a century. In 1916, it swept its way into office, taking control of
the North Dakota House of Representatives and electing Lynn Fraizer governor.
By 1918, it completely controlled the government of North Dakota.
The deep distrust that most farmers had of cities played a role in the
development of the NPL. Cities such as Fargo - and especially Minneapolis and
St. Paul - were where those who ripped them off, when it came to the price of
their grain, lived. And those were the places where the evil bankers cut off
the credit they needed and made them pay high interest rates to try to force
them off their land. To build its political base, all the NPL had to do was to
tap into rural anger.
"To the small farmer, the Twin Cities was the Evil Empire," Lloyd Omdahl, a
former NPL state tax commissioner, lieutenant governor, and political-science
professor from the University of North Dakota told me. "They felt exploited by
the granaries there, along with banks, which had chains all throughout the
state, and the railroads, which charged them high shipping rates to take their
grain to market. The further west you went in North Dakota, the stronger the
That dichotomy is still present in North Dakota - even within Fargo itself.
Like many Midwestern cities (or many American cities, for that matter), Fargo
is made up of two parts. One is the old town of well-kept homes and downtown
streets built along or near the constantly flooding Red River. The other is
where you find the tract homes, duplexes and multiplexes, and the strip malls
and shopping malls that cluster near the two interstate highways running along
the western fringe of town. This is the new Fargo, built on the edge of the
prairie, and it is filling up with refugees who come looking for work and wind
up in the service industry. Some in this pool of cheap labor hope to save
enough to own a farm of their own one day - when they're retired, of course.
Alas, the League became a part of the powers-that-be between 1918 and 1920.
Perhaps it became too powerful. All it took was six dollars to become a member;
by 1918, there were over 40,000 NPL members in North Dakota. The League also
got into banking and publishing and became a distributor of consumer goods to
general stores all over the state. Townley organized NPLs all across the Upper
Midwest and managed to increase the membership to 188,365 dues-paying members.
Charles Lindbergh's father was an NPL member in Minnesota who ran in Republican
primaries, and Montana's Sen. Burton K. Wheeler also used an NPL organization
to get himself elected.
With all these interests, it soon became obvious that the NPL was turning
into what it was set up to oppose: a corporation. Splits began to appear in
the leadership between Townley and a faction led by Fraizer and North Dakota
Attorney General William "Wild Bill" Langer. The severe recession after World
War I and the depression in crop prices forced the League-inspired Bank of
North Dakota to foreclose on the very farmers it was supposed to serve. The war
and the Red Scare that followed also caused splits, with charges and
countercharges of anti-patriotism, communism, pro-Germanism, and disloyalty
filling the air. The League lost power in the 1920 Republican sweep and
withered in the rest of the Midwest.
But the NPL still held sway in North Dakota, even as the major parties
became irrelevant during the Roaring 1920s. Elections were decided along pro-
and anti-NPL lines. (The Independent Voters Association, organized by citizens
who opposed the League, became the NPL's competition in 1920.) Thanks to the
Great Depression and Langer's efforts to restructure it culturally, the League
revived in the 1930s. Norwegians had been the core of the League back in the
1910s. From the 1930s to the 1960s, they were the backbone of the NPL, along
with the Volksdeutsch. The latter, while officially listed as Russian
immigrants on the U.S. Census, were really German farmers who, at the
invitation of Czar Alexander II, settled in southern Russia, particularly along
the Volga River, the Black Sea, and in the Ukraine. They arrived in North
Dakota in the late 1890s after a series of severe famines and droughts. Langer,
a descendant of a Volga German family, spoke fluent German. The Volksdeutsch
appreciated his antiwar stand back in 1917 and his cultural conservatism; their
descendants hold similar views today. If you want to know where Pat Buchanan
did his best during the 2000 election, check out the towns of southern North
Dakota where Volksdeutsch wrought-iron cemetery crosses rise up among the
These disparate elements from the corners of old Europe - Norwegians, Volga
Germans, and Slavs from the Ukraine and Russia - came together in the 1932
election when Langer was elected governor, Gerald P. Nye was elected to the
U.S. Senate, and William Lemke was elected a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives. These three were the NPL's top vote-getters in the 1930s and
40s, and they made their mark on the national scene. Nye became famous when he
coined the term "merchants of death" while investigating the munitions
industry. Langer eventually moved on to the U.S. Senate in 1940 and served for
20 years, and Lemke was the presidential nominee of the Union Party, the most
vocal anti-New Deal party in the 1936 election. The NPL joined in coalition
with Fr. Charles Coughlin, Gerald L.K. Smith, the remnants of Huey Long's
"Every Man a King" organization, and Francis Townsend. Unencumbered by party
machinations, these men could fight the powers-that-be on a national level,
just as they had in North Dakota.
Unfortunately, they did not remain independent for long. The NPL, like so
much that was unique in America, was destroyed by FDR's New Deal. Before
1932, Democrats in North Dakota and the rest of the Upper Midwest were not part
of the political culture, except in Irish quarters or big cities. To the
countryside, the Democratic Party was the party of Catholics, of the big
cities, of the political machines and crooked bosses and gangsters. But the New
Deal farm programs and subsidies wedded many farmers to the new party of Big
Government. Young NPL members, backed by the liberal Farmers' Union, wanted to
steer the NPL into the donkey's stable. They did not want to remain
independent, as the NPL had with the GOP; they preferred integration. At the
same time, Republicans, led by U.S. Sen. Milton Young (who defeated Nye in
1944), were working overtime to eliminate the influence of the League within
the party. Old-time NPL members like Langer were caught in the middle and
declined in importance. Quentin Burdick, son of NPL Congressman Usher Burdick,
was elected to the House as a non-NPL Democrat in 1958. When Langer died in
1960, Burdick grabbed his seat, and the NPL slowly faded into oblivion. Local
Democrats in North Dakota still use the NPL label, just as Minnesota Dems
retain the old Farmer-Labor tag, but such labels are simply curiosities now.
Could the NPL be revived today? In some ways, as Professor Danbom points
out, it already has been. Throughout the 1990s, the Christian Coalition elected
like-minded candidates in Republican primaries and precinct caucuses through
grassroots organization and financial sup- port. Like the NPL, it ultimately
failed because it tried to control the entire party, rather than stay
independent of it. The NRA and the pro-life movement are non-party groups that
fund and assist candidates sympathetic to their views, but they are limited to
single issues. One figure who represents the kind of leader a new NPL could
produce is Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party presidential
nominee in 1988. Recognizing the futility of trying to win office with the
Libertarian millstone around his neck, he ran as a Republican to win his seat.
He has never strayed from his beliefs, however, nor does he feel the need to do
so out of party loyalty. Almost alone among congressmen, Ron Paul is asking
questions about the way we are conducting our "War on Terrorism." He is
protesting the erosion of our civil liberties and the growth of leviathan. Few
(if any) Republicans are following his lead, and certainly none of the
Democrats are. Recent elections show how a renewed Non-Partisan League could
help likeminded candidates. In the 1998 Illinois governor's race, the
Democratic candidate, Glenn Poshard, was clearly more conservative than his GOP
opponent, George Ryan. Yet the Republicans used the national Democratic Party's
platform positions on such issues as taxes, gun control, and abortion to tar
Poshard as a liberal. A new NPL could have given Poshard its seal of approval
and made him attractive enough to conservatives to gain crossover votes.
Lloyd Omdahl thinks a new NPL could work in the civic-minded states of the
Upper Midwest. But he also warns of the difficulties of facing the
powers-that-be, since, in his words, politics is "a rich person's game." That
may be true now, but it was also true back in 1915, when many poor people first
joined the NPL and successfully put their stamp upon North Dakota. If a new
Non-Partisan League could identify a potential cultural and economic base among
MARs (Middle American Radicals), stay-athome moms, libertarians, WASPs and
European ethnics, orthodox Christians, and those who work with their hands, it
might put the powers-that-be on the run again.
Sean Scallon is a reporter from East Ellsworth, Wisconsin.
January 6, 2003
The views expressed in this essay do not necessarily represent those of
Free State Project, Inc.