The Free State Project (FSP) is dedicated to moving 20,000 libertarian-minded folk to gather together in one small-ish state, New Hampshire, with the hope that they will shift the political culture of the place toward freedom. It has been gathering commitments to move since 2004.
Since the power of numbers thing only works if everyone can be encouraged to all do it more or less at once, the FSP "statement of intent," committed signers to all actually moving if 20,000 people all signed up, to avoid them having to waste their time if they came to the freedom party nearly alone. An interesting way to solve the "no, you go first" problem with these sort of group endeavors. It was a clever idea. And it worked.
That 20,000 signers goal has now been reached, as FSP founder Jason Sorens and current president Carla Gericke will be announcing at a press conference tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. eastern at the Radisson in Manchester, NH. (Just a month ago Nick Gillespie reported about them hitting the 90 percent mark.) This makes FSP "the most successful intentional migration movement in American history," as they stated in a press release this afternoon.
That release goes on to explain why this accomplishment should be of interest to those wanting to see even localized libertarian change in these here United States:
"Early movers have already made their mark on the Granite State by passing life-saving drug reform legislation, expanding school choice and protecting first amendment rights – this has drawn in a whole new crowd of participants. Just imagine what can be accomplished with 10 times as many people." [said Gericke]
Since the first early movers flocked to New Hampshire, Free State Project participants have followed their individual passions to the center of some of the state's most contentious political fights. They were instrumental in organizing resistance to Real ID in 2008, legalizing same-sex marriage through the legislature in 2009, and establishing a medical cannabis program in 2013….
"I'm thrilled by how far the Free State Project has come since the essay I wrote 15 years ago [says founder Jason Sorens]. Freedom lovers from around the country have turned concept into reality by moving to New Hampshire and building all kinds of exciting efforts to secure liberty and prosperity for all–efforts I could never have imagined back in 2001. Good ideas are powerful, and the idea of freedom is spurring many thousands of Americans to commit to move to the Granite State for a better life."
"This is the culmination of over a decade of grassroots and volunteer work…" says Gericke. "Early movers are bringing their businesses, families and charities with them to New Hampshire – not to mention disposable income. So far we've purchased more than $30 million in real estate alone, and I can't wait to see what kind of larger impact will be made as a result of individual efforts within this growing and thriving community."
Will everyone put up or shut up and move to New Hampshire now and make it a better state for liberty? Who knows? But they made their pledge, and have plenty of evidence that useful or interesting things for liberty can arise from honoring the commitment.
Over 1,900 Free Staters already are there and we've reported here at Reason on some of what they're already accomplished, from getting 15 of their brethren in the state House, challenging anti-ridehail laws, fighting in court for outre religious liberty, winning legal battles over taping cops, being mocked by Colbert for heroically paying off people's parking meters, hosting cool anything goes festivals for libertarians, nullifying pot juries, and inducing occasional pants-wetting absurd paranoia in local statists.
The FSP nabbed the hard-to-nab Edward Snowden to talk (via video!) at their forthcoming Liberty Forum event. And The New York Times hat-tipped FSP today in discussing how Rand Paul might be expected to do in New Hampshire's primary next week.
While I will not be moving (nor did I pledge to)—too cold!—Free Staters I've reported on and hung out with are the most interesting and fun bunch of libertarians I've met since my own old College Libertarian group at the University of Florida. I think that even if a bunch of the 20,000 fink out, this is undoubtedly going to be good news for New Hampshire, for America, and even or especially for most of the individuals who choose to move.