Libertarians flock to New Hampshire for annual festival

Monday, May 29, 2006

Less than five years ago, a Yale University grad student by the name of Jason Sorens wrote an essay for The Libertarian Enterprise, a libertarian news and commentary site published by science-fiction author L. Neil Smith. Frustrated by a lack of political clout, Sorens proposed that libertarians - people who are socially tolerant and fiscally conservative - could move to a single state and have a much greater impact. Sorens received more than 200 messages in response, and the Free State Project was born.

The strategy has matured since that announcement, but the core idea remains intact. In a state with a population of 1.3 million, 20,000 activists can break beyond the novelty value of American third-party viewpoints.

As of this writing, over 7100 people have made that original pledge. This year, spurred by the success of early movers, a second pledge was created. Known as the "First 1000", this pledge has a strict timeline for success; 1000 people must agree, by the end of 2006, to move to New Hampshire by the end of 2008. Like the original statement of intent, should the signers fall short of the goal, none of them are obligated to follow through. As of today, nearly 300 people have signed on to the First 1000.

Most Free Staters, or "Porcupines" so named for the group's mascot, know each other only by way of communicating over the Internet. Once per year, they shed their online monikers and meet in real life, at the annual Porcupine Freedom Festival, known affectionately as "Porcfest".

Porcfest '05 brought an estimated 500 activists from around the country, including former Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. While the press attended the event, Free Staters used the festival as an opportunity to socialize and relax.

External links

Free State Project