Federalism

Free State: Wyoming

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Get five libertarians together in a room, and you'll instantly get 10 factions, as the old movement joke goes. Fission in the "Free State Project " movement gets some press attention, as a gang who never liked the idea of naming cold Yankee New Hampshire as the target Free State make waves in Wyoming.

My Dec. 2004 reason feature on the Free State Project .

NEXT: The Politics of Potter Revisited

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  1. NH was a bad choice from the start. The Claremont series of NHSC decisions is making the growth of state government practically inevitable.

  2. That, and you’d only need like 75 people to have a majority in Wyoming.

  3. I’m working on the Free State Illinois project.
    I don’t want to move anywhere.

    Basically, my Free State project is to cajole my fellow Illinoisans all the time. The bad thing is, no libertarians can hold office, because once one gets elected to office in Illinois, the hand goes right in that kitty and it’s “liberty shmiberty, I’ve hit the jackpot!”

  4. David’s point is well taken. Any libertarian migration to NH is swamped by the tsunami of Massachusetts residents moving into southern NH.

    And those Massholes are pink, baby. Really, really pink.

    The Free State project should have been set up in a state that was otherwise losing population, so that the demographic trend would work for you, not against you.

  5. That, and you’d only need like 75 people to have a majority in Wyoming.

    Great – so if we can double the number of libertarians we’ll be halfway there!

  6. If the FSW want to to do their own thing fine, but they shouldn’t make false statements to reporters about the FSP.

    They say the FSP is slowing down, yet the FSP just had 450+ people at its summer gathering (150 or so more than last year), hit 7,777 signers the other day, and will have 1000 moved by the end of 2008. This is ignoring the political impact members are already having, which is well beyond their numbers. Anyone who says the FSP is slowing down isn’t paying attention.

  7. I don’t know much about the FSP but from where I’m sittin’ two free states is better than one.

  8. An interesting experiment no matter what happens. My impression was that the whole thing was dead and they never got the number of people they needed to move.

    If not, good for them. If so, it can’t hurt.

  9. Hear, hear, Ken Schultz.

    I can do Wyoming. Been there. Liked it. New Hampshire just seems kinda intimidating if you are a Westerner. The real estate ads seemed to be a lot of doublewides on 2 acres of permafrost ex-forest. In Wyoming, I could get a doublewide and 200 acres of freezing prairie. And fewer mosquitos.

  10. They each have their advantages. New Hampshire has the precious role of having the first primaries. Wyoming is a nice, open, rural state that could more easily be invaded.

  11. Why not go take over some island country
    and get rid of the federalis altogether?
    There would have to be a plan, common pool of money and commitment…the basis of a dictatorship.

  12. Nice to see that the reporter managed to find a pair that perfectly exemplify the whackaloonery of some libertarians.

  13. Number 6,

    The more serious libertarians are all hanging around indoors posting on Hit&Run. They don’t have time for interviews.

  14. The Free State project should have been set up in a state that was otherwise losing population, so that the demographic trend would work for you, not against you.

    Yeah…I hate to brake it to you but my definition of liberty includes not having to live in fucking North Dakota.

    Anyway my suggestion would be Oregon…still relatively underpopulated…good weather…a western state with frontiersman individualist traditions and a shifting demographic from Blue to Red…great place to inject new ideas for a searching electorate.

  15. a shifting demographic from Blue to Red

    Huh? Oregon?? Oregon is most certainly not shifting red. Quite the opposite, it has been shifting blue for some time now.

    Also, at 3.7 million it is not nearly underpopulated enough for a small group to make a serious impact electorally. That’s three times the population of New Hampshire and over seven times the population of Wyoming. It doesn’t seem like such a good idea to be making an already very difficult task that much harder by picking a much larger state.

  16. Huh? Oregon?? Oregon is most certainly not shifting red. Quite the opposite, it has been shifting blue for some time now.

    Read this:

    http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3236/7763/

  17. Fluffy,

    Any libertarian migration to NH is swamped by the tsunami of Massachusetts residents moving into southern NH.

    And those Massholes are pink, baby. Really, really pink.

    That’s a logical conclusion about why New Hampshire is becoming more liberal, but it turns out to be wrong. In the 2004 elections, when New Hampshire voted for the Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since God knows when, the southern counties where all the Massachusetts transplants moved voted for Bush more than the central and northern counties. Think of the Massachusetts transplants as political refugees, fleeing the despotism of Deval Patrick.

    New Hampshire is turning blue, but it’s not because of the transplants.

  18. joshua,

    The thesis of that column is “When life give you lemons, make lemonade.”

    First, the author argues that the change in party identification – with more people registering as independents while fewer register as Democrats – demonstrates a libertarian shift, then acknowledges that those independents vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

    Then, he argues the old saw about the fastest population growth being in exurban counties that voted strongly Republican in recent elections, extrapolating that those counties will continue to vote Republican in the future, but be much larger. The problem with that line of thinking is twofold: first, we’re talking about very small counties, which makes their impressive-looking growth rates translate into very small numbers in real terms. Second, the newcomers who cause rural counties to turn into exurbs are less likely to be conservatives than the locals, and each succeeding, and larger, wave of population growth is more and more liberal.

    And, finally, I’ll note that both of these trends are national ones, not Oregonian ones. People are registering Independent more in every state. In Blue states, this means a drop in registered Democrats; in Red states, Republicans. In every state, the fastest-growing counties, in % terms, are heavily Republican rural areas that are being turned into exurbs. The trends that are, allegedly, turing Oregon red are happening nationwide. Do you see a shift to the right happening nationwide?

  19. Ugh, this libertarian wants out of Wyoming. Atleast the boring, backwards little town he’s living in.

    I think the free state project is doomed because very few libertarians are rich and unemployed or free to move away from their work. All this does is concentrate a small, crazy section of libertarians and make for back page publicity.

    Face it, all you can do is try and hold true to your beliefs and hope people in general come to your side (which, given the herding mentality of most of the general public, isn’t likely)

    Or buy property on a nice, sunny island. Now that, I’ll join you in doing.

  20. For decades, Oregon Republicans were to the left of the national party – witness former Sens. Mark Hatfield (against the war in Vietnam and too liberal to be picked Nixon’s VP in 1968) and Bob Packwood, plus former Gov. Tom McCall. The R’s lurched way to the loony right in the 80s and haven’t been in power since. The R’s can’t get elected to statewide office anymore because they keep fielding social-conservative crazies, and the Libertarians can’t get elected to anything because they lurched from fielding potheads in the 70s and 80s to Republican-lite empty suits of the 90s and of today.

    As for the FSP – why abandon your efforts in the other 49 states to roll the dice on attempting to create one little haven? I say stay where you are and work from there.

  21. Do you see a shift to the right happening nationwide?

    depends on the time frame and what you define as “right”.

    but short answer: Yes

  22. Well, read this:

    “Democrats will retain power, analysts predict”
    Salem (Oregon) StatesmanJournal
    http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070705/LEGISLATURE/707050306

  23. Heh. As an amusing anecdote, a hard-core libertarian friend of mine (whose company supplies flight controls to my company) recently bought an old Atlas missle silo in a little town about an hour north of Cheyenne. He moved his family and his company into the old site. There’s something vaguely heartwarming about an eccentric libertarian rocket scientist buying an old missle silo in the middle of nowhere Wyoming so he can test rocket engines (up to 100,000lbf) indoors whenever he darned well pleases…

    …I doubt that had anything to do with anything, but I thought some of you might find it amusing.

    ~Jon

  24. While the FSPers are out on the windy range cleaning their guns and nursing their psychic wounds, I’m going down to my local bar here in Portland to listen to some blues. They can have Wyoming any day.

  25. > In the 2004 elections, when New Hampshire
    > voted for the Democratic presidential
    > candidate for the first time since God
    > knows when, the southern counties where
    > all the Massachusetts transplants moved
    > voted for Bush more than the central and
    > northern counties.

    On the other hand, those same southern counties threw out a well-respected Republican congressman (Charlie Bass) in the 2006 election and put in a Democrat. So I don’t think your analysis is as clear cut as you think.

  26. Gentry,

    My point was “more Republican,” not “solidly Republican.”

    I don’t think there is any part of New Hampshire that is safe-Republican above the state senate level anymore.

  27. Idaho was the answer. They have a decent sized city, Boise (500,00 MSA), for those who need work, plenty of smaller towns for others and arguably the most Libertarian governor in the country.

  28. Glenn K | July 9, 2007, 9:17pm | #
    Well, read this:

    “Democrats will retain power, analysts predict”
    Salem (Oregon) StatesmanJournal

    Come on Glenn…having the Statesman say it is like having joe say it…the article calls 2006 a watershed event for democrats…one that will last quite some time.

    This might end up being true… but to say it changes over night with one blip a 15-20 year trend….well you are going to have to show me more blips.

    Oregon did not pass a good property rights bill and a a bad ban on gays in 2004 to suddenly pull a lasting switcharo simply cuz Iraq chaffed with their isolationist sensibilities.

  29. My own Free State Project involves plans to move to the almost government-free town of Madrid, New Mexico

    http://americasoutback.typepad.com/blog/2007/04/the_happiest_pl.html

  30. When the FSP got started, my first thought was; please don’t choose [my home state].
    The project is turning New Hampshire, and could turn even Wyoming, into a socialist state.

  31. Just for the record Scott Beiser resides in Wyoming.

    Oh come on, you know Liberty’s Cartoonist.

    Sorry Pete, no offense intended. We like your stuff too. Loved the Right To Keep And Bear Bazookas in the most recent edition of Reason.

  32. Also, at 3.7 million it is not nearly underpopulated enough for a small group to make a serious impact electorally.

    Plus if you move there from Californicate they burn crosses in your front yard.

  33. Or buy property on a nice, sunny island. Now that, I’ll join you in doing.

    Free State Maui!

  34. Scott Beiser’s Blog is called Living on Mars (Rambling On The Frontier) something that Lost apparently can identify with.

  35. This might end up being true… but to say it changes over night with one blip a 15-20 year trend….well you are going to have to show me more blips.

    Oregon’s presidential voting since WWII:

    48: R (Dewey)
    52: R (Eisenhower)
    56: R (Eisenhower)
    60: R (Nixon)
    64: D (Johnson)
    68: R (Nixon)
    72: R (Nixon)
    76: R (Ford)
    80: R (Reagan)
    84: R (Reagan)
    88: D (Dukakis)
    92: D (Clinton)
    96: D (Clinton)
    00: D (Gore)
    04: D (Kerry)

    There’s your 15-20 year trend. We could do the same thing with vovernor’s elections which used to be fairly solidly GOP and is now firmly in the hands of the Dems. If you want to look at the last 15-20 years in Oregon, the trend has quite obviously been towards the “blue” rather than “red” states, contrary to your initial claim.

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