Livia Gershon in Aeon:
The Free State Project began life in 2001 with a call-to-arms by Jason Sorens, then a political science PhD student at Yale. Sorens suggested that a few thousand activists could radically change the political balance in the small state. ‘Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day,’ he wrote. ‘Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them.’
Sorens’ views — which focus on problems with taxes and regulations and don’t dispute the government’s role in protecting commerce and conducting foreign policy – suggest a more-Republican-than-the-Republicans sort of outlook. But some people who’ve responded to his call subscribe to an entirely different ideology: an anarchism that sees government as a tool of wealthy capitalists. The rest fall somewhere in between. Free Staters say that what brings them together is a common belief that government is the opposite of freedom.
The crowd that gathered in February for Liberty Forum 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua was a pretty good reflection of the US libertarian movement: mainly male, and overwhelmingly white. A few people openly carried guns, which is thoroughly legal in New Hampshire.
One of the first speakers, Aaron Day, a Republican activist and member of the Free State Project board, railed against government plans to expand Medicaid. His PowerPoint flashed images comparing President Barack Obama’s health insurance reforms to the Soviet famine of the 1930s, when Stalin shipped away Ukraine’s wheat, leaving its people to starve. Day announced he’d be running for state Republican Party chair and called for everyone in the audience to seek local office. If I was looking for the embodiment of right-wing libertarianism, here he was, a true believer in cutting the government down to size from within – starting with programmes that benefit the poor.