‘Free State Project’ seeks
to restore liberty

By Jon Dougherty

A new political movement is afoot in the U.S. that calls for 20,000 activists to move to one state and peacefully take over its governments before systematically restoring various personal liberties organizers say have been eroding in this nation for several decades.

Jan Helfield, a Falls Creek, Va.-based attorney and Libertarian Party activist, says the time is right for his Free State Project to lead the way toward significant political change.

“The Free State Project proposes to identify the easiest state in the union to free, and then relocate 20,000 people to implement the liberation,” he says in an essay provided to WorldNetDaily. “The people interested in moving will sign up with FSP and vote on the state selected to be freed.”

Helfield has identified 10 “candidate states”: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Here’s the plan:

“If 20,000 Libertarian activists moved to Delaware, they would already have between 11 and 17 percent of the necessary votes in a three-way race. Twenty thousand Libertarian activists should be able to persuade the remaining necessary voters to vote for a Libertarian candidate. If that’s not doable, then none of the Libertarian races are. In any event, Libertarians would certainly achieve some political power.

“As far as money is concerned, if Libertarians focus their spending, they would be competitive in many sparsely populated states. In Wyoming, Vermont and North Dakota, the total campaign spending by all House and Senate candidates in the most expensive election of the last six years was around $4.5 million for each state. Libertarians spent about $5 million in the 2000 presidential election. (The LP spent $3.6 million and the [Harry] Browne campaign spent $1.5 million.) Thus, we would have reasonable parity in campaign spending if we focused on one state.”

The 20,000 newly relocated activists “would permit Libertarians to register large numbers of new voters to vote Libertarian, a factor that could easily make the difference and lead to a Libertarian victory,” he said.

A win in a single vulnerable state means the “cause” gains two U.S. senators, one or two members of Congress, a state governor and hundreds of local political positions. “This is a thousand times as much political power as Libertarians have today,” said Helfield.

After victory, then what?

“We could end state redistribution of wealth, repealing state taxes and wasteful government programs,” Helfield says. “We could privatize education and utilities. We could repeal laws regulating guns, drugs and other victimless crimes. We could abolish asset forfeiture, abuses of eminent domain, inefficient regulations and state monopolies.”

Ultimately, according to the FSP website, the newly won “free state” would negotiate “directly with the federal government for appropriate political autonomy.” No bloody revolution, no civil war, no fighting. In fact, Helfield’s plan envisions using the American electoral system to recreate the kind of state autonomy envisioned by the nation’s founders.

“May it be to the world, what I believe it to be, the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government,” founder and third President of the United States Thomas Jefferson wrote in a speech he was to have delivered July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the day he died.

As the leader of the Democratic Republicans, Jefferson criticized the rival Federalists, opposed a strong centralized government and championed the rights of states.

“The FSP is a new strategy for liberty in our lifetimes,” says Helfield. “We don’t want to wait decades for most citizens in the U.S. to realize that the nanny state is an insult to their dignity.”

As word of the initiative spreads, analysts are hard at work researching all candidate states, he said. Once membership in the project reaches 5,000, FSP will select its state. Current membership is at 1,000.

“What can one free state do for other states in the union? Quite a bit. Given the nature of the Senate, two senators can do a lot of obstructing in the name of freedom,” said Helfield. “Also, given the delicate political balance between the Democrats and Republicans, two Libertarian senators could have the balance of power on many issues.”

According to Helfield, a “free state” can also serve as a model for others to follow. “The peace and prosperity within the free state would be a concrete example of the benefits of freedom, serving as a powerful argument for the liberation of other states,” he said, adding that anyone who wanted the immediate benefits of the free state could “vote with their feet” and relocate there.

Helfield’s idea is beginning to catch on with others.

“Our free country is broken because Americans have increasingly become a culture of ever more dependence on government and of using government power against one’s neighbors for nearly any issue great or small,” writes Joseph A. Swyers, a small business owner and Leadville, Colo., city councilman, in his essay, “Changing State Government from the Bottom Up.”

“In America, the abuse of power has been predominantly enabled by the state governments,” said Swyers. “And states have directly used power against individuals, families and communities.”

Noted columnist and economist Walter Williams also supports the concept.

“All but your highly trained legal scholars, politicians and bureaucrats – and others having contempt for the founding principles – will agree: Yes, Congress has exceeded its delegated powers. And, yes, states have a right to take back (resume) powers delegated to the federal government – in a word the right to secede from the Union,” he wrote in his Aug. 7 column.

Helfield says the benefits of creating even a single free state would be enormous in terms of restoring personal freedom and liberty.

“People that respect other people’s rights are more likely to be independent, responsible, fair, friendly and fun-loving,” he said. “Consequently, you are more likely to be surrounded by good people if you move to a free state.”

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