‘Free State Project’ moving ahead

By Jon Dougherty

A political effort to create a single state devoid of most ties to the federal government is progressing steadily, according to the project’s creator and mentor.

Jason P. Sorens, a 25-year-old Yale University doctoral candidate in political science, told WorldNetDaily that his Free State Project has managed to enlist 1,500 “members” so far, and that membership is continuing to grow steadily as the concept receives more publicity.

“The response has certainly been growing over time,” he said. In July 2001, he outlined his concept in an essay he published on the Internet. By Sept. 1, 2001, he was ready to launch his effort officially.

The plan is this: Locate the easiest state in the union to “free,” and then relocate 20,000 members – people who have pledged to move to the targeted state – to “implement the liberation,” says an outline of the plan penned by Jan Helfield, a Falls Creek, Va.-based attorney and Libertarian Party activist.

The 20,000 activists/members would then work to vote allied candidates into office, effectively “taking over” a state’s governing apparatus, both on the local and federal level.

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 in an interview last week.

Sorens said the effort “understandably” stalled in the immediate wake of the 9-11 attacks, but after the start of the new year, things again began to gel.

“We did a lot of things then to get interest growing again,” he said, noting that membership had grown to around 500 by August.

Membership then took a substantial leap forward after syndicated columnist Walter Williams provided details about the project in his Aug. 7 commentary.

“That was a real breakthrough,” Sorens said, noting membership doubled to nearly 1,000 after the column hit newspapers and websites nationwide.

Sorens said he and a circle of advisers have decided to “professionalize” the operation by “incorporating and developing committees” to diversify duties.

He said an increase in advertising helped keep the Williams momentum going, “as well as some articles in the mainstream press.”

Now, at more than 1,500 members, Sorens said the effort will continue full steam ahead.

“I see us continuing to gain momentum,” he said.

Despite the growth, the doctoral candidate says not all of the response to the Free State Project has been positive. He said the most oft-heard criticism is from people who feel he’s trying to politically hijack a vulnerable state.

“The most common complaint is from people who disagree with our political ideals” – which can best be described as libertarian – “and who therefore don’t want us to come into their state,” he told WND.

But Sorens justified the effort by relying on an American tradition that transcends political affiliation: a healthy debate of ideas.

“With 20,000 activists we can’t win outright majorities,” he said. “So we’ll just make our ideas relevant by putting them on a level playing field” with the ideas of other political parties.

“If voters aren’t afraid of the ideological battle, they shouldn’t be afraid of us coming in,” he added. “We’ll have to win over a lot of the locals in order to make real changes.”

“People value freedom,” he said. “We have big government not because we clamor for it but because, over time, we’ve become accustomed to it.”

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‘Free State Project’ seeks to restore liberty