MANCHESTER, NH – Hundreds of “liberty-minded” political activists hummed through the halls of Manchester’s Raddison Hotel over the weekend, here to recruit others interested in joining them to “experience liberty in their lifetime” right here in the “Live Free or Die” state.
The 2015 Liberty Forum was held March 5-8 in Manchester, and served as an opportunity for those activists, part of the Free State Project, to educate New Hampshire’s general public on their cause, ideals, and future plans – and to welcome anyone else who might be interested in living in NH as a Free Stater.
The diverse group of attendees ranged in age from old to young, clad in suits, sweatpants, and jeans. Some had firearms holstered to their hips, while others were wearing tie-dye shirts and sandals. Those among the estimated 500 or so who came had the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of speakers throughout the four-day event.
The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance gave a presentation on “winning the fight for freedom in Concord, NH,” while Lauren Rumpler (also known as “Objectivist Girl”) spoke on what she called “The Tao of Anarchy.”
“We are taught from a young age to discover who we are,” said Rumpler. “I think this is the wrong mentality. To define who we are is to stagnate our growth, and limit our potential.”
She built on this idea throughout her talk, claiming that the Free State Project can provide individuals with the ability to move away from what she described as the constraints of western, empirical attitudes.
Along with extensive, engaging lectures, the Liberty Forum offered participants a chance to talk to more than 30 organizations and entrepreneurs with information tables. From the Network for Educational Opportunity to Shaolin Rifleworks, each featured vendor brought something interesting to the table. The Women’s Defense League of NH had literature available, including information for women on how to get involved with gun safety and operation.
And Dennis Acton of the Patient Caregiver Alliance spoke to attendees about his organization’s cause.
“We’re a non-profit group that provides services to the New Hampshire therapeutic cannabis program. We fill the gaps that were created by various aspects of the law to make it difficult to receive treatment,” Acton said.
The Free State Project has since 2003 been actively recruiting Libertarians to pledge to migrate to New Hampshire until they reach 20,000 commitments, at which time they will effectively be turning the state into a stronghold for their ideals.
Their group’s statement of intent reads:
“I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the State of New Hampshire. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property.”
Merav Yaakov, lead organizer of this year’s Liberty Forum, is a living embodiment of this ideal. After immigrating to Colorado from Israel 20 years ago, Yaakov felt let down by the lack of community and social liberty that state’s political climate provided her. So, her family of four packed their things and relocated to the Queen City in the name of liberty.
“It [The Free State Project] gives me hope for the future, because it is easy for me get depressed when I read the news and I see the situation of the country and hear of political decisions made on my behalf without my input,” said Yaakov. “My favorite part [of the Liberty Forum] is to connect people. There are several people here I have never met before, and when they all come here I make connections among them, I introduce people to others, and I see relationship become a reality.”
Although the Free State Project is a relatively young movement, it has already garnered national and global attention.
Only time will tell if this excited group can successfully enact change in a state where individuals have the choice to “Live Free or Die,” or if their cause will fade into the shadow of the already dominant political parties.
- Free Staters celebrate life in the 603
- NH Liberty Forum
- The Free State Project
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Theo Brown is a UNH senior journalism student interning this semester for Manchester Ink Link.